Tips

Tips for writers:

After volunteering to judge several contests within the past few months, I have learned a few things that I apply to my own writing…


  • Avoid using the word “just”. In one submission, I counted over 40 instances within the first chapter. Try doing a search in your own work for “just” and see how many times it pops up.
  • Vary how you start your sentences. Many writers keep starting sentences with He or She, which is fine, but not when three out of four sentences in one paragraph start with She. And then the next sentence of the next paragraph also starts with She. It’s hard for a writer to see that because we get numb to our work over time. Take a break and come back and look for those kinds of things. Highlight them if necessary.

  • Avoid using both an exclamation point and telling us your character shouted/yelled/screamed. We only need one, otherwise you are telling rather than showing.
    Avoid this example: “Watch out!” she shouted.

    Use this instead: “Watch out!”

    Or: “Watch out,” she shouted.
  • For contemporary works, don’t provide too much setting details. Contemporary works tend to be shorter and faster paced. Describing an office from the top of the ceiling down to the hand-woven gold-toned oriental rug really slows the pacing down and turns the reader off. Bits and pieces here and there go a lot further and keep the reader interested.

Need low-cost business cards?
Vista Print – take note that white lettering on black/dark background doesn’t show up very well in their matte style.

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