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Writing Tips

1. Character Referrals: Take out referrals to characters such as “the taller woman”, “the older woman”, “the attorney” and such. If you are in bed with someone and you know their name, you don’t think of them as “the blonde”. That’s plain rude! Use the name, or “her”, or “she”. The name soon becomes invisible to the reader and doesn’t sound as repetitive as we think. They just smoothly slide over it when they read.

2. The “-ing” words: Dangling participles slow down the text and are confusing. They should be limited to non-existent. Example: “Running for the door, Dylan tripped over her feet.” How could Dylan run for the door if she’s tripping over her feet?”

3. POV: Point of View: Head hopping is confusing and an amateur mistake. Write from an exclusive point of view. It’s fine to switch to different characters, but it should be done by changing chapters or inserting a scene break. Something to signal the switch. Otherwise, it is much too difficult for the reader to figure out.

4. Tags! The inventive tag lines after dialogue are a holdover and influence of fan fiction. “Take my hand,” Camilla offered. It is superfluous since we can understand that she offered her hand. You can leave the tag out completely if it isn’t necessary to distinguish who is speaking. Show action instead. “Take my hand.” Camilla waited for Laura to hold onto her as she helped her out of the bed. Tag lines should especially be limited if only two people are interacting.

5. Adverbs (adjectives that end with “ly”): As often as possible, try letting words in dialogue and actions that precede or follow them describe how something was said, instead of using an adverb. Examples: “Don’t ever come back here again!” she yelled angrily and closed the door. Better is: “Don’t ever come back here again!” Moira slammed the door and Paula heard her scream in frustration from the other side.

6. Passive Voice: Forms of “to be” slow the story and the action way down. Words like was, so, and the like. Example: “She was going to the movies so she could meet up with some friends.” Better is: “She went to the movies and met up with some friends.”

7. Mary Sue litmus test. Mary Sue characters are those that every other character simply adores! They are perfect. Characters in the story erect monuments to them. Everyone wants to sleep with them. They are a tendency for authors to attempt to write themselves into the story and for everyone to fall in love with them. They are annoying in the extreme and completely unbelievable. No one is perfect. Characters are more beloved if flawed in some way.

8. If you write a graphic sex scene, avoid having your character announce their orgasm. With any luck, their partner would know. This is cringe-worthy and a sign of inexperience.

9. Once finished with your manuscript, do a global search for ‘had been’, i.e. ‘had been busy’. Replace the passive with active such as was busy. Better yet, describe what the character is doing that illustrates that state of being.

10. Look out for filter words such as ‘she felt’, ‘she knew’, ‘she seemed’, etc. Filter words slow down the action and remove the reader from the story.

11. Limit the use of ellipses, semi-colons, and colons in your work. Instead, consider breaking the sentence in two. Overuse of these punctuation marks is distracting and eventually annoying to the reader.

12. Separate narrative from internal thoughts and dialogue. Internal thoughts should be in italics and separated all on their own. Example:

                               Jane almost fell down the stairs when she tripped over the car.
                                           Damn it, what’s that thing doing there?
                                “Jason, come pick up your toys before I break my neck!”


A bonus is that you lengthen your page count slightly. Not to mention, you separate three distinct types of writing and avoid confusing the reader.

13. Watch out for word stacking. Most writers occasionally get a word stuck in their head and inadvertently use it over and over again in the same paragraph or even in the same sentence.

Overused Words

      One of the most overused words in a manuscript is the word 'walk'. "She walked down the street." "She walked across the room." Etc. Below is a list of synonyms to utilize in place of the mundane and oft-times abused word 'walk'. Choosing one of these will add more depth to the story and conveys a specific type of movement. Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list or the only word abused. A good theasaurus is your friend.

     amble          barrel           bolt           bounce          bound         bowled         cantered        clambered
     coasted        cruised        danced      darted           dashed        dove             dodged           drifted  

     edged           flew              flitted        galloped       glided          hightailed    hiked              hobbled
     hoofed         hurdled       hurried     hustled         inched         jaunted         slogged          locomoted
     lumbered    marched      moved       navigated    oozed          paced             plowed          pranced
     raced           rambled       retreated  roamed        roved           rushed           sashayed      sailed
     sauntered   scampered   scooted     scuttled       scurried      shambled      shoved          scrambled
     shuffled       slid    
          slithered   skipped        snaked        sprinted        squeezed      squirmed
     squished     staggered     steamed    strolled        stomped     swaggered     swept            swished
     toddled       traipsed        tramped    traveled      traversed     trotted           trudged        veered

     waddled      walked          wandered  weaved       wended        wiggled          wormed       wriggled
     zigzagged    angled          blasted       careened    detoured      escaped         floated          gyrated
     insinuated   jetted           kicked        lurched       meandered  nitpicked      oscillated      paraded
     quivered      rolled           scuffed      tiptoed         undulated    vectored        yawed  






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