Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Keeping It Fresh with Maryann Miller

This week at the Blood-Red Pencil we are celebrating our longest-serving members, with a look back at a selection of their awesome posts.



This gem from Maryann Miller originally posted on March 13, 2009. Titled "Keep Your Salad Fresh", its words written more than 10 years ago are just as relevant today and well worth revisiting. Maryann has been a longtime contributor to BRP, and her posts always offer a variety of literary gifts to the reader as well as to fellow editors. The links at the end of the article include an interview with a romance writer; its wisdom deserves a second look.


During the first draft of a novel, the writing can sometimes be pretty ordinary. We are intent on getting the story on paper and we write what we are familiar with. The challenge is to freshen everything up in the second draft. Here are just a few pointers that haven't been covered here in a while:

AVOID clichés and shop-worn phrases.

I recently edited a book and the author wanted to keep all the clichés, defending her stance with the fact that people use clichés all the time. She didn’t seem to understand that that is the main reason a good author avoids them. Give the reader something fresh and original. Another author tried to justify her clichés by pointing out how many books get published that have them. My response was that that doesn’t make it okay.

How many times have you read something like: Her heels clicked across the hard tile of the floor? That is okay writing, but it could be stronger.

Read the rest of this post here.

Other great posts by Maryann Miller


Remember the Reader
Little Mistakes Can Kill a Story

Money! Money! Money!
EEK! What Is the Right Word?
Getting Rich by Writing
Can We All Just Behave?
Romance Is About Feelings
Things I Learned from Listening to Audio Books


Maryann's latest releases


Jenny Jasik's life changes in an instant, when her son is killed in an automobile accident. As an undercover member of a drug task force, Jenny has to keep it together.

At just 4 years old, Evelyn Gundrum’s happy world is turned upside down when she is abandoned and shipped to an orphanage. Evelyn grows up amidst hardship and heartbreak, plagued by unresolved emotions that follow her into adulthood as she seeks answers in a sea of questions.

What on earth do a dead tomato plant and a paycheck have in common? Maryann Miller explores the fun and foibles of how to survive parenting a large family, while vainly keeping body and mind intact. From School Daze to Summertime Blues, and everything in between, the book airs the Miller laundry with all the holes and missing buttons.

Connect with Maryann on Facebook or Twitter.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.