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Leave a Tip Today on The Blood-Red Pencil - Share What You Know

As on every second Tuesday of the month, it's Leave a Tip Day today on The Blood-Red Pencil. I don't know about you, but in Illinois we've been experiencing great Fall-type weather, energizing me and making me want to finish what I put off during the hot Summer months.

Many of us are on different levels in our writing careers: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Wherever we are, there's always room for improvement and ways to share what we know.

My tip: For authenticity, don't be afraid to use reference material, whether printed or online.

I, like many authors, hit roadblocks. I'm geography-challenged, and horrible at directions, yet while working on Forever Young-Blessing or Curse I needed to figure out what places my heroine traveled, beginning at Scottsdale, Arizona, in her efforts to flee her pursuers. I could have picked fictional towns, but decided to use real ones. Fortunately, I happened to own an Amtrak schedule from a visit to the area in April. That lent me valuable information to figure out which places she'd stopped at along the way.

When I decided on where she'd stop, I Googled the towns and read up about them, so I wouldn't include descriptions that didn't make sense. I found some surprising information, which can be included in the story to enrich it.

What tip can you share? Our comment section is open for your suggestions, whether they be about writing, publishing, or editing, and covering whichever format or venue you wish - traditional, indie, or self-publishing.

You're welcome to include one website or blogspot URL, for readers to get in touch with you. Also, it's not required, but if you'd like to tell us where you've heard of our blog, please do so.
Morgan Mandel
Morgan Mandel writes mysteries,
romances, and thrillers. She's a
past president of Chicago-North
RWA, was the Library Liaison
for Midwest MWA, and is an
active blogger and networker.
Her personal blog is at:
and website is http://www/
See her senior blog at
Her romantic suspense, Killer Career, is 99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords. Her paranormal thriller, Forever Young - Blessing or Curse is targeted for release first this summer on Kindle and at Smashwords.
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  1. I always carry my tiny camera in my purse. Wherever I go, I take pictures and save them in special folders. They helped me so much to use and describe settings.

  2. Don't get bogged down in telling telling telling about character's emotions, especially out-of-context behaviors-laughing, chuckling, smirking, gulping and gasping at a time when one wouldn't.

    Like the idea of carrying a camera, by the way. I think there's room for it in my new purse along with my journal!

  3. Writing is more than just slinging words together. Without a knowledge as to how each word affects a reader, you are not doing full justice to your story. Fiction is about creating a suspension of disbelief for the reader and flat words do not suspend anything.

    I would no more write without a thesaurus and dictionary than I would have sex at an AIDS clinic without a condom!

  4. Don't be afraid to bend the "rules" occasionally. If done well and done right (and not too often), your writing will be better for it.

  5. Wow, some great tips here, and great advice. I would add writing for the sheer joy of sharing your story with an audience. I think writing for money is fine, and I am a born again capitalist. But the emotion, the passion, and the depth comes form the feeling YOU have as you tell your tale. If you feel it, and write with the advice the other fine authors here have given, your audience will feel it, too.

  6. When you are stuck, sit down and write about anything...the clock ticking on the wall, the roast beef you are cooking for dinner, the way your stomach churns, the sound of the birds outside. Get any words flowing, and the ones you were waiting for will come.

  7. When you are stuck, sit down and write about anything...the clock ticking on the wall, the roast beef you are cooking for dinner, the way your stomach churns, the sound of the birds outside. Get any words flowing, and the ones you were waiting for will come.

  8. Write about what you love to read, or love to do. It's one way to make the writing part more fun. :>)
    Christine Verstraete
    In Miniature Style II - minis profiles and how to's

  9. Do yourself a favour!
    NEVER rely on any "Spell Check" programme!! The Human Eye and an alert mind in combination are an infinitely more versatile and effective editing tool.
    The colour of language (especially in Dialogue) adds authenticity to any plot, especially if you write action scenes in parts of the world where English isn't the first (or only) language spoken).

    PS What THREE words in this post tell you I'm writing from the "Other Side of the Pond" [UK] ?? LOL

  10. Paul, your three words were easy to spot: Favour, Programme, and colour. I am currently editing a book for a client in the UK, so the spelling has become quite familiar.

    I like the suggestion of writing about anything to prime the creative well. In a humanities class I took in college, we were asked to look at paintings and write the story behind the painting. I now have a lot of cards and small pictures on one wall in my office. They are a good writing prompt when I need one.

  11. Don't start writing a story until you know your characters intimately. Get their goal, motivation and conflict clearly in mind, then begin to plot. I'm speaking from experience as I'm in the process of rewriting.

  12. So true about spell check. There's a world of difference between pubic and public service. LOL. My tip is to read aloud, before you go to print. You can't believe the errors you'll find, from missing words to incorrect usage. Read every word as though you are reading to a live audience.

  13. It takes a village to write a book. At least it does for me. Find a few fellow writers you can trust, who know what THEY'RE doing and what YOU'RE trying to say. Get their feedback. It's all about the work. Not every comment will help but enough will. Trusted, writing buddies are invaluable to the cause.

  14. I'm with Mona about cameras. I'm hardly ever without one, since my iPhone has a camera. I make use of it frequently.

    Morgan Mandel

  15. I'm adding on to Heather's comment. Get advice from other writers but also get feedback from mystery readers. They'll be less biased and won't attempt to change your writing style. Remember to stay true to your voice and the voice of your protagonist.

    Have fun and never run out of chocolate!

  16. If you're writing a series, keep good notes that you can refer back to as needed. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.

  17. I have learned a lot from watching my husband write and even if work is lost he just gracefully rewrites, told me last weekend that getting upset just wastes time when I expressed my deep admiration. He had composed what I felt was the perfect rewrite of a paragraph that was lost Saturday night when the computer he was using ate the DVD and the backup DVD and so that day's editing was lost. (Longer story snipped but IT people could not figure out what happened.) The next day's rewrite was, to my great surprise, actually even better.

    Continuing to edit, taking editing tips gracefully and having enough backups are my tips. (That evening's work would not have been lost with one more backup to e-mail which I had suggested.)

    --Aspiring mystery writer/wife of a nonfiction writer

  18. Carry a dozen index cards and a pen with you at all times. Put characters ahead of plot. Edit until your eyes cross.

  19. Don't be afraid to get up and act out what your character is doing. If there is a scuffle, act out both parts. You will be amazed at the detail you can add from rolling as if someone has flipped you. From the landing on the ground and the noises you make as the air is forced out of your lungs to the dirty marks on the ceiling tiles. All good detail to add realism.
    W.S. Gager

  20. When you write in terms of senses, don't forget the sense of smell, the most evocative of them all. If your character happens upon a bloodbath, it will smell, so have that hit his/her nostrils to help convey the reality of the scene.

  21. Cool! thanks for presenting....

    Job Description

  22. Occasionally my students complain of "writer's block", which arises of fear that leads to self-consciousness. My advice is varied, but the one thing I stress is to get inside your character's skin, much as the stage actor does. Let her/him tell the story. In this way you put yourself out of the picture, and out of your own way.

  23. Looking for inspiration, check out folktales, especially ancient folktales. You can even rewrite them for today's children's market.

    Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing


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