How NOT to Bore Your Readers

E. Tip of the Day: We all strive to keep things interesting for our readers. Except Mr. Passive Writing! He can sneak up on you without warning, and take you down! It’s something every writer does, most of the time unaware they are even doing it. So don’t worry if you didn’t realize Mr. Passive Writing was taking over your novel. Here’s a tip on how to avoid the enemy.


Certain words can clue a writer in to knowing they are writing passive action scenes. Using these words will make the writing passive and distant to the reader. So, avoid using these words often in action scenes when possible. Sounds easy enough, right? If you’re not sure how often you use these type of words, do a quick global search on your manuscript using the “find and search” tool.


Examples of words to avoid or at least try to keep to a minimum in your story are the following: “that,” “like,” “seem,” or “seemed to,” “decided,” “some,”and most words ending in “ly” –wonderfully, sweetly, selfishly, savagely, happily, likely, etc. The list goes on and on…


There are a few “ly”s that are okay to use on occasion: “slowly,” “quietly,” and “quickly.” However, if you can find another way to portray the scene without using these words, do it. 🙂 Not using the words listed above will keep Mr. Passive Writing away, bringing the reader closer to your story. A win-win situation for both the writer and the reader! Good luck!

Example 1 by Mr. PW: He decided to drive to the cliff.

Example 1 by WD: He drove to the cliff, marveling at the beauty of the landscape around him.

Example 2 by Mr. PW: She seemed like she was going to vomit.

Example 2 by WD: Her face turned pale and she ran to the bathroom. In a moment I heard hacking sounds from within.

Example 1 by Mr. PW: He selfishly played with the toys.

Example 2 by WD: He scooped up his toys and turned away from the other children to find a corner to play.

Goslings in Disguise: This photo is a good example of passive writing. The goslings blend in so well with the ground it is difficult to see them at certain angles.

Mistaken Identity

E. Tip of the Day

Family support is important for any successful profession, but it is especially important for a successful writing career. I’ve been lucky to have a family that supports my every dream. However, don’t mix up “family support” with “free proofreaders”.

Asking family members to read your work in progress is a common enough practice among new writers. Don’t worry. We’re all guilty of doing it, even me. 🙂 A family member’s approval of your writing gives you validation that Yes, you can write! However, it can sometimes put a strain on a relationship, and may even make your family resentful of your writing career. No one wants that.

Proceed with caution when asking family members to read your work. If someone works in a profession that relates to your plot–a crime scene investigator, for instance–ask them for their professional opinion of the scenes you’ve written involving the CSI. And leave it at that, unless they’d like to read the entire novel. But keep it professional. Be aware you are using their valuable time to read your book, time they could be spending doing tasks they need to get accomplished, and don’t take advantage of that. They’ll appreciate your consideration, and later when you need that support when your book sales aren’t as high as you’d like them to be, they can still be there to comfort you.

If you’re just looking for someone to proofread your work, use the pros when necessary. Most writers are happy to help each other out, and may even see plot holes you may have missed. In the event you’ve finished your work in progress and need an editor,  that’s what we’re here for–to help you!

For a list of our services, visit:


Random Thoughts on Editing:

Recently a friend and I were having dinner together. She asked me during the course of the meal about my profession. Was I the type of person who woke up in the morning and jumped right into editing a manuscript? Or did I have to slowly ease myself into it. The question was an easy one to answer.

Does Editing Love Me? Does It Not?


I wake up in the morning and the first thing I think about in the morning when I open my eyes is all I want to do is edit. Yes, I’m one of those people. Some days I can do this. I’ll wake up very early, in the wee hours of the morning, and begin editing on the current book I’m working on. And some days, I’ll have other pressing matters and I won’t start editing until the afternoon.

But no matter when I edit, it’s a joy for me. Always.

I enjoy working with writers who are just beginning their career, and I enjoy working with seasoned professionals. Each manuscript has its own challenges and surprises. Each work is a labor of love and I dedicate myself to making it the best I can.

The Dreaded Suspension of Disbelief Comment

E. Tip of the Day: The words every writer wishes they didn’t have to hear-This pushes the suspension of disbelief. And the same words every editor holds close, using them sparingly for those times when they think the writer may have gone off the deep end in their plotting.

What does it really mean? Pushing the suspension of disbelief is exactly that. The writer is pushing their character into a scene or situation that character does not belong in. And for the character, there’s no way out of the situation they’re in unless they do something that is not within their abilities and/or personality to accomplish.

How to fix this problem? I’ve given a couple of easy solutions.

1) Set-up. Show your character early on in the story in their normal environment showing that character doing the activity that may save their lives later on. For instance, how to hot wire a car. If your character doesn’t know the first thing about hot wiring a car, and later on in Chapter 20 has to hot wire a car in order to get away from bad guys it’s going to seriously make the reader doubt how this character had the knowledge to do it. However, if you set up in Chapter 2 that the character hung out at his uncle’s garage and played around with junked cars, one day even being shown by the uncle how to hot wire a car, then it’s believable they would have the knowledge to pull off the stunt. Getting the suspension of disbelief comment marked in your novel has been completely diverted–this time. 🙂

2) Listen to your inner muse. If your character is running away from the situation, screaming “I can’t do this, I just can’t!” there’s a reason. That character is right. Listen to your subconscious–your character’s voice. Find a different solution instead.

3) Bring in another character. If there’s another character with the experience you need to pull off the scene, use them. Who says your main character has to solve every problem by themselves? True, the main character should be solving most of the conflicts, but it’s okay for them to get help once in a while from a friend, or even an enemy. As long as the scene is set-up properly, and this other character doesn’t fall from the sky from out of nowhere. Hypothetically, it should work.

4) Using a super power, mental disorder, disease, or other outside influence. Using amnesia as the example here, it is possible for a character to do something out of the ordinary if they no longer remember their previous life. As the writer, you’re starting over with the character’s essence, and rewriting their history–for a time. Use these outside influences sparingly so as not to push the reader into doubting the character’s new abilities. In these situations, be very careful there are only a few episodes of the character doing something out of character. Later, if necessary, you can explain why the character did what they did, and why.

Hopefully these tips will help you avoid getting that comment, “This pushes the suspension of disbelief” the next time you’re getting edits back from your editor. And if you do receive the comment here or there in your manuscript, remember it’s okay. There are ways to fix it. Just don’t be afraid to ask your editor for suggestions on solutions if you can’t think of any. Good luck!




Keeping the Pace

E. Tip of the Day: Did I get your attention with the photo of the sunset? If yes, that was the idea. 🙂

Wisconsin Sunset

Pacing is a big part of keeping your reader’s attention throughout the story. A writer needs to challenge the reader with equal parts of character introspection, action scenes, dialogue between characters, and beautiful narration. Each has its own part to play, and their own pros and cons which we’ll be exploring in more detail at a later date. But for now, let’s look at the different roles.

Character Introspection: This is one of my favorites because as a reader you can really get to know the character, see how they feel about controversial issues, how they feel about other characters and places, and best of all, how they handle stressful situations.The main character could be backed up into a corner in a sticky situation, and somehow they find a way out of it. Their inner strength shines through to do what it’s best for their situation no matter what the sacrifice is to them. And as a reader, we get to see that struggle and achievement first hand. It’s exhilarating!

Action Scenes: The action is what keeps the reader interested most of the time, so it’s very important to include action scenes often in your story. Although the character walking from one end of the hallway certainly can be construed as action, it’s not really the type of action the reader may necessarily be looking for. So, be careful with adding in too much “boring action”.

In a romance, the reader is just begging for a kissing scene between the hero and heroine halfway through the novel. So, using the romance genre as an example here, walking from one end of a hallway to the other could easily have enough tension in the scene for the reader to stay interested–especially if that hero is waiting for the heroine at the other end of the hallway with a kiss. But this isn’t always the case, so be aware of how you’re using your action scenes.

Dialogue Between Characters: When using dialogue, it’s important that the writer always shows the reader new information with the conversation. So many times I’ve read dialogue between characters where the writer has re-hashed the same information that the main character just told the reader about in the previous chapter using character introspection. It makes the story redundant. Stay away from redundancy, when possible.

Use dialogue as a way to show character emotions and add more tension to the story. One tip: make sure each of your characters has their own distinct voice. I’m not saying give each one of the characters their own accent. Not at all. I mean, use different physical tags and sayings to make those characters stand out. This will help your reader keep the characters straight in their heads while they’re reading, and therefore keep the story interesting for them.

Narration: Choose how much of the story you’d like the reader to see through the main character, and how much of the story will be narrated. Seeing the details through the main character will, in most cases, feel more real to the reader. But there are some details better left to narration.

Having a good balance of all the parts will help you write an edge-of-the-seat story with great pacing, and will ultimately help you reach your goal of showing the reader an entertaining time with your story. Good luck!


MIA Winners

We still haven’t heard from Teagan, Bill, Joanie, and Karen. Teagan won our May contest and Bill, Joanie, and Karen participated in our June contest.

If you know them, please let them know they have a FREE edit to claim. Contact us at with any questions on prizes. Thank you!

Great Inspiration!

E. Tip of the Day: Great inspiration can come from anywhere. Family members, a piece of furniture, or even an aquarium. Some of the things that have inspired me are: marine life, pets, trees, items at museums, and family members. Keep your eyes open. You never know when or where inspiration will hit!

I couldn’t help but share a photo that seems to have a story behind it. Doesn’t the  sturgeon seem like he’s up to something. What has inspired you to write a story?

Mr. James Sturgeon

Confidence of a Writer

E. Tip of the Day: Think of yourself as a public speaker in front of a large seated audience in a convention center. For a visualization, let’s say there’s 1000 people seated in front of you, and you’re standing at the podium ready to give a speech. You’ll need to be poised, in control of your words and actions, you’ll need to smile, laugh at yourself for your mistakes, and keep eye contact. Occasionally you may get frustrated when a person leaves the room, or you hear a cell phone ring. But you’ll keep smiling, and soon you’ll be finished with that speech. When you’re through speaking, you’ll thank everyone for being a good audience. Then, you’ll exit the stage, take a slug of water, and exhale. You did it!

Writing is not so different from that. Every day when you sit down to write, you know there’s a reason you’re here writing this story. There’s a reason this story needs to be told to an audience. Believe in that reason. And believe in yourself!

When you feel more confident of being who you are, a writer, it will translate through to the page.

Living with Characters

E. Tip of the Day: Tension and emotion are key ingredients in getting the characters to live and breathe in the minds of readers. Bringing the reader in nice and close to feel your characters’ emotions is so very important in keeping them engaged in the story. The reader needs to feel the sweat, blood, and tears of the characters’ victories and defeats. Here’s a few examples of showing emotion:

a.      He ran his hand through his hair in exasperation.
b.      He glared at her, not happy.
c.      She bit her lip to keep from speaking, worried she’d say something she shouldn’t.
d.      He shrugged, not caring either way.
e.      He pulled on his ear, anxious, as to what he was hearing.
In my examples I do a little bit of showing and telling so you can see what emotion I’m trying to convey to the reader.