Quick & Messy Writing Tip: To Agree or Disagree

Say your characters are standing before the moss-draped opening of a dark, gloomy cave, and they’re deciding whether or not to go in.

You know they need to, because there’s a glimmering, all-powerful gem in that cave they need to find (and a nine-legged creature with slobbery fangs and poison barbs guarding it), but you don’t have to keep it as simple as that. (‘Simple’ being … relative in this example.) Character A saying, “Let’s go in” and Characters B and C nodding and saying, “Sure, that sounds good” might get them through the door, but it doesn’t lend much by way of excitement — or character development.

Agreeing, in fiction, isn’t nearly as exciting as disagreeing. Continue reading “Quick & Messy Writing Tip: To Agree or Disagree”

Writing Tip for Maintaining Forward Momentum

Maintaining a constant, forward momentum can be tricky when you’re writing a story. A great way to make sure your story is moving steadily ahead is to look at the action on a page-by-page basis:

If you’re writing a story in a word processor, have something happen, change, or be revealed by the end of every page in your document.

When I go back over what I’ve written, I like to always make sure that, when I come to the end of every page, something has changedSomeone has asked a question, or answered one; learned something new; seen something surprising; put on their jacket and gone somewhere else. A phone could’ve rung, or a knock comes at the door; whatever happens, by the bottom of the page, we’re further along than we were at the top.

Making sure every single page has a specific point, needs to be there, has done something to move your plot towards its conclusion, is a quick and easy way to give your story forward momentum, and give the reader a reason to keep turning pages.

(Originally posted on theothersideseries.tumblr.com)

Clean Up Your Draft By Eliminating Crutch Words

A quick and easy editing tip is to eliminate the words “was”, “had”, and “that” from your writing. These words separate the reader from the action of the sentence; eliminating them adds for more intimacy and immediacy. 

After I’ve churned out my first draft, I’ll do a fancy Find-and-Replace in Microsoft Word that bolds each occurrence of whatever crutch word I’m battling: usually was, had, and that. Then I’ll print out the document, go outside with a notebook, and tackle each bolded word, tweaking, and rewriting, and staring at the page upside down until I’ve found a better way to express that particular thought.

Practical Application: The Elimination of “Was”

After the ‘Read More’ are a couple examples from one of the novels I’m working on, with every incidence of “was” bolded. My mission: to study every “was” and decide how I could best eliminate it, making my writing clearer and more creative. Setting yourself random tasks like this can jumpstart creativity: giving your mind a problem to solve, a restriction in which to work in, forces your brain into action. (A great tip for if you’ve been stuck staring at your Word document for hours, idly scrolling, occasionally making vague grunts.)

Continue reading “Clean Up Your Draft By Eliminating Crutch Words”