E. Tip of the Week: Character Count

Characters are the life of every story so it’s important to treat them with respect and pay close attention to the details. However, it’s easy to get carried away and forget about  some of the “don’ts” that come along with character building.

  • If your reader needs to keep a notebook by their bedside every time a new character is introduced in your book, you’ve got too many characters.
  • If you are having trouble keeping your characters straight in your own head, it’s time to limit the number of characters in the story.
  • If your characters are screaming to have their own story, and not be a supporting role, it might be time to start an outline on a new story.
  • If you have multiple characters whose names all start with the same letter like “s” or “m” consider changing two of the characters names to start with a different letter so the reader can keep the characters straight in their head. Or, decide if you really need those other characters.
  • If you have a character just so the main character isn’t talking to themselves out loud, is that “friend” really necessary.

There are many more character “do’s” and “don’ts” but these are just a few I thought worth mentioning now. What are some of the “do’s” and “don’ts” you’ve learned over the years?

E. Tip of the Week: Endings

There’s a lot of advice on how to write great beginnings and getting through writing the middle of stories, but what about that ending?

An ending should be everything the story has been building up towards. Powerful. Intriguing. Satisfying. To have a great ending means it needs to be satisfying to the reader. So many times when I’m editing a novel, the emotion of the story will build and build. Then, in that last page it’s like there’s a cliff there and the story just drops off the face of the earth. I’m not talking about a cliff hanger. I’m talking about an ending that builds towards the end but doesn’t have a satisfying end for the reader. An ending when the reader walks away and says “That’s it? That wasn’t worth it.”

Those are words no writer wants to hear, yet so many times in editing novels I see a writer spending so much time on crafting their beginnings –it’s imperative to have a great hook, after all–and middles, the writer will just leave their ending to just “come together.”

Don’t do that.

When you’ve finished writing the first draft, second draft, third draft, go back and read just the last five pages of your story. What is the emotion you feel after you’ve read the ending? Did you feel the tension, the sadness, happiness, or shock you as the writer were going for? Or, did you feel empty or confused?

Make sure to spend the same amount of time on your ending, as you do the beginning and middle. After all, if it’s a satisfying read, your readers will be more apt to tell others about your characters and the journey they just experienced. And isn’t that what you really want? 🙂

E. Tip of the Week: Keep It Simple

Using words that are used in every day language will keep it simple for your reader.

When using unfamiliar words, it’s important to clarify what it means for the reader so they don’t have to stop and look up the definition. Unusual words can easily pull readers out of the story, sometimes making them put the book down.

We want readers to enjoy the process of reading, not get confused or frustrated. So, have fun with words! And if you have questions, feel free to contact us. 🙂