WD Publishing

Passive Words to Avoid Using While Writing Your Novel

“Read. Don’t chase trends. Read. Set a daily word count goal. Read. Anything “writerly” counts as working. Critique partners help IF they’re good.”

—Terry Odell, Award-winning author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series

 

Passive Words to Avoid

Adverbs: All words ending in “ly” —quietly, softly, energetically, etc.

Always: Unless using it in dialogue or with emphasis that something always happens.

Like: Any phrase beginning with like is most times telling the reader instead of showing them.

Just: Unless using it in dialogue or with emphasis that something just happens on occasion. Be careful, though, that a lot of things just don’t happen.

Only: Unless using it in dialogue or with emphasis that something only happens on occasion.

Pretty: Unless using it correctly in reference to something being beautiful.

Seem: Every form of it—seemingly, seemed, seems.

 

Passive Words to Use on Occasion

Even: There are times this word is necessary, however, reread the sentence to see if you can rephrase it.

Saidisms: Stated, commented, argued, etc. Use said and ask for transparent dialogue tags.

That: There are times that can be deleted out of the sentence and times it’s needed for the sentence to work. Read the sentence out loud if you’re unsure if it’s needed. 80% of the word that can be deleted in a manuscript.

Which: Be sure you know when to use that and when to use which. These are words misused on a frequent basis.

 

Crutch Words

Every writer has a few words (adverbs/verbs/adjectives/phrases) they use A LOT. Search your manuscript for words that appear frequently in it, and see if you can 1) replace it with a synonym, or 2) delete it altogether in every sentence. You may have several crutch words. If you have more than 20 uses in your manuscript, it could be 18 uses too many.

Challenge: See if you can delete all of these words from your writing vocabulary.

 

 

Copyright (C) 2016 by Written Dreams, LLC.

 

Death by G-String:  A Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club Mystery by C.C. Harrison

 A Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club Mystery

 

Can Viva Winter find the truth before it’s too late?

The Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club is gearing up for a ukulele competition when their flamboyant star player, Kiki Jacquenette, is found strangled to death with a G-string. Not only is a first place win in jeopardy, the entire folk music festival is put on the verge of collapse. A murderer on the loose is sure to keep tourists away.

Chronicle editor Viva Winter had hoped to make Coyote Canyon the folk music capitol of the Colorado mountains, and was also trying to raise money to help repay the townspeople bilked by her father’s phony investment scheme. With much to gain by Kiki’s death, Viva soon comes under suspicion, so she must uncover the truth before her whole life turns into one sour note, and a tourist trade boom falls flat.

 

Thanks to Heidi Swedberg for the mention of this book on her blog! https://sukeyjumpmusic.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/ukulele-holiday-2017/

 

 

About the Author:

C.C. Harrison lives in Anthem, Arizona. She is the author of hundreds of articles and short stories. When she’s not writing, reading, or working out at the gym, she can be found in the mountains of Colorado or in some far-flung corner of the Southwest. She has won national recognition with her suspense novels.

Creating Characters that Live and Breathe on the Page

Why do we need to describe our characters? Because we do not want them running around invisible and naked within the pages of our story. We need strong multi-dimensional characters that readers can empathize with. As humans, we are not one-sided stick people. It is our desire to create characters in our own image, so why not make them all diverse individuals.

 

Ways to create and build your characters:

  • Personality: Review their personality traits: what has influenced their personality? Cultural factors, psychological factors, biological or genetic factors, or environmental factors? How did they grow up? Giving characters specific personality traits will help build their backstory.

 

  • Appearance: Describe what they look like and the clothes they wear: what is a unique piece of clothing that is specific to them, but not to the to other characters? Do they wear a hat, specific jewelry, different shoes? This will make them look unique on the page.

 

  • Dialogue: Some dialogue phrases can be specific to only one character. Of course, you’ll have dialogue to move the plot forward, but certain phrases can be used to express character’s opinions and show how they respond to stress.

 

  • Dialogue Tags: A dialogue tag is a physical response used before or after dialogue. It helps show body language. This is very important in creating characters. It helps add emotion to the pages. A dialogue tag does not need to be used on every line of dialogue but layered in gently with body descriptions readers can see.

 

  • Thoughts: If sharing thoughts with readers, this is a way to show their innermost feelings without the characters sharing their true thoughts with the rest of the world. Are they scared? Lonely? Do they have to put on a mask every time they are with other characters. If so, why?

 

  • Flaws: No one is perfect, and characters aren’t either. What are some of their flaws? Physical, emotional, psychological. This is another way to help build backstory.

 

  • Motivation: What makes them tick? What is their passion?

 

Exercise: Think about someone you love. Now, think about their strengths and weaknesses, phrases they always say, ways they can make you laugh or cry. Now, write down 4 unique things about that person and be sure to include one of each of the following—personality trait, physical trait, dialogue phrase, and a dialogue tag.

 

Remember, strong characters can carry a strong plot. Strong characters can carry a weak plot, but weak characters cannot carry any plot.

 

Copyright (C) 2018 by Written Dreams, LLC.

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Dialogue

 

If dialogue is written well, it can move the story forward while fleshing out your characters. It is meant to be used as a break for readers from reading long passages of narrative and add description to the scenes in a different way than narrative prose.

 

Do:

  • Do use the words: says, said, ask, asks, asked, asking

These words are transparent to the reader, meaning the reader can move along in the story without seeing these words. Said and asked, especially, don’t stop a reader.

  • Do use physical tags to show what the character is doing during dialogue. It will add emotion to the story.
  • Do use a saidism tag every 2-3 lines of dialogue between 2 people. If more than 2 people are speaking, be clear who is speaking on every line to avoid reader confusion.
  • Do use the five senses in dialogue/dialogue tags.
  • Do use he/she in place of the character’s names.
  • Do put each character’s line of dialogue on a separate new line.
  • If starting a new scene/chapter with a new character in dialogue, use their first and last name in that first line of dialogue so the reader knows who is speaking.
  • Do use punctuation in dialogue.
  • Do look at/read/review another author’s dialogue.
  • Do your research on the character’s backstory/history if you want them to speak with an accent or in a dialect you don’t use yourself. Use words like Scottish brogue to describe their conversations.
  • Do use contractions in dialogue. Write dialogue the way your characters would speak.
  • Use a combination of dialogue, thoughts, physical actions, and the five senses for well-balanced dialogue.

 

Don’t:

  • Don’t overuse saidisms that aren’t said/ask. Why? Because the reader will think the conversation is important and keep it in their head. If you’re constantly using these types of words in dialogue, it’ll be difficult for the reader to keep track of all of those important conversations. Instead, use these words sparingly and for emphasis. Example: stated, commented, agreed, inferred, whispered, yelled, argued, answered, replied, etc.
  • Don’t overuse profanity. Only have a character curse for emphasis on a rare occasion. If overused, it loses its importance.
  • Don’t have more than 4-6 lines of dialogue without any saidism tags. It will be confusing for readers to follow along, making them frustrated and want to put the story down.
  • Don’t run dialogue from multiple characters in the same paragraph. Each line of dialogue by a new speaker should be on a new line.
  • Don’t use the word speak/spoke for every line of dialogue. (See #1.)
  • Don’t try to write a character speaking in an accent or different dialect—unless you have studied it for a very long time. Accents/dialects/slang are very hard for readers to follow. Use sparingly.
  • Don’t forget the punctuation.

 

Copyright (C) 2018 by Written Dreams, LLC.

A Conversation about Writer’s Block

Thank you to D.A. Kori Prier, author of Colorado Drift for writing this blog. In a conversation between two writers who are discussing Writer’s Block, one writer realizes how they have to change. One writer is a “plotter” (someone who outlines and organizes their manuscript before/during the writing process) and the other writer is a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of their pants). Both paths work, but sometimes, you need to change your process for a certain manuscript in order to get past a block.

 

Wow, so you’re a writer huh?

Yep.

I’m writing too, but I’m in a funk.

Yeah, why’s that?

I’m stuck. I’ve got Writer’s Block. So, you ever get blocked?

Nope.

Really, how do you keep from losing your train of thought?

I prepare.

What do you mean? How do you prepare?

Well, first I do a shovel full of research on my topic.

So, you research everything?

Not quite everything, but most of the story’s plot.

Then what do you do?

Well, I organize the research into an order that formulates into my plot.

Really?

Yep. Then I write an outline of the story with all the parts (research and ideas) flowing through my diagram. This way, I know where my story is going and what I have to write next. I can always adjust the outline if something doesn’t fit or if I come up with a brilliant idea.

And this works for you?

Yep.

Would it work for me, too?

Yep, but you have to be disciplined and do the research, organize your thoughts, and outline your plot.

It sounds like a lot of work.

It is, but it keeps my creative processes juiced and always flowing. Besides, how long have you had your Writer’s Block?

A couple of weeks now.

Well, in two weeks you could have done most or all of your research and developed an outline.

I see your point. I think I need to start doing a better job than just writing from the top of my head.

Good for you.

 

We all get stuck once in a while. Here are a few things you can try to help yourself get out of Writer’s Block.

  1. Get away from your story. Find a hobby and relax. Avoid thinking about your manuscript. As your body relaxes, your brain will, too, and it will naturally figure out the problem you are having with the plot—if that’s the reason you’re stuck and getting Writer’s Block.
  2. Set up a writing routine and do it every day, 6 days a week. Structure will help form positive habits that lead to positive creativity.
  3. Work on your research. A new idea could strike. Changing your process techniques could help the flow of ideas.
  4. Talk your problem out with a writing buddy or an editor. They may be helpful in getting you to the root of the problem.
  5. Go on vacation. Take a few days and do something you’ve never done before or go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Get away from the stresses of everyday life for a few days. This could help your creative process because you’ll be experiencing different emotions through your new experiences.
  6. Laugh. Spend some time with someone who makes you laugh. Laughter will help release tension.
  7. Pamper yourself: see a massage therapist, get a manicure or hair cut, or go to a spa. While you’re focused on yourself, your body will naturally relax and you’ll be able to figure out the problem.

 

New Release - Colorado Drift by D.A. Kori Prier

 

D.A. Kori Prier was born and grew up in the two-mile high town of Leadville, Colorado. Now retired, he lives in Northern California with his wife, Snuz. Colorado Drift is the first book of a new series. Mr. Prier’s extensive knowledge of the mountainous geography lends credibility to the story and makes the adventure feel real and possible. Kori and Snuz enjoy traveling with their three four-legged girls: Becca, Tessa, and Bella.

 

Colorado Drift takes the reader on a snowy, modernistic science fiction adventure inside a Rocky Mountain avalanche.

 

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends who may find it useful. Thank you!

 

 

Thanksgiving Day: An Excerpt from News from Lake Boobbegone

Sometimes we need to look back at where we’ve been to move forward in life and in our hearts. Here’s an excerpt from Carolyn Redman’s News from Lake Boobbegone: A Breast Cancer Memoir from the Heart which became a #1 New Release in April 2017.

November 27, 2014,
Thanksgiving Day

 

So, these are the top ten things I’ve had to let go of this year: (1) my left breast, (2) 15 lymph nodes, (3) all of my hair, (4) my immune system, (5) my idea of beauty, (6) the illusion of control, (7) cocktails, (8) a plethora of tears, (9) a few extra pounds, and (10) wondering why me.

My last radiation treatment, or as I liked to euphemistically call it, “light therapy,” took place on November 10th. But even weeks after the treatment ended, radiation had left me looking and feeling like I’d been microwaved on high for far too long. Next to the mother of all sunburns, the emotional fatigue of daily treatments was probably the worst of it. I had been living “cancerously” for nearly a year now, and it had taken all of my resolve. Unlike chemo, I had to face radiation therapy on my own. No one could go with me, hold my hand, or sit by my side and distract me from these treatments. I had to dig deep and find even more strength I wasn’t sure I could muster.

The “mean wells,” my term for people who say dumb stuff unintentionally, keep reminding me how great things will be once I get back to normal. I don’t see how that is even remotely possible. I am missing a body part, have been infused with drugs potent enough to damage my heart and make my hair fall out, have been microwaved on high for 30 consecutive days, and as an added bonus have been chemically catapulted into menopause. And those are just the physical ramifications. Mix in equal parts anxiety, fear, and sadness, and the cancer train I’ve been on misses all the normal stops. What a disappointment and missed opportunity it would be if, after all of this, I turned out to be the exact same person I was before I was diagnosed.

I can’t quite go as far as to say that I am grateful I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but I can say that I am grateful for all of the realizations that have resulted because of it. I was given the opportunity to tap into a reservoir of courage I didn’t even know existed. I witnessed people at their best as they surrounded me with their clinical, surgical, and scientific expertise, genuine concern, humor, compassion, energy, and love. The word friendship took on a whole new meaning with each chemo sitter who took time out of her busy life to sit with me for hours on end. And I found out that my marriage was indeed for better or worse.

This Thanksgiving would be like no other because I finally understood the importance and power of gratitude. I had gained far more than I had lost this year and for that I was extremely grateful.

 

News from Lake Boobbegone by Carolyn Redman, copyright (C) 2017 by Carolyn Redman.

 

The Force Behind Writing Groups by Bruce Kirkpatrick

A few tips from Bruce Kirkpatrick on being a member of a writer’s group.

I’m a member of four groups and each works differently. Here’s what I’ve learned about writer’s groups and if you are a writer, why you may want be a part of one.

Both new and seasoned writers are often members of writer’s groups. No hard and fast rules exist about how they work, but a few tips to get the most out of them might help.

Groups can meet in person or online. They can require that members trade “chapters” or work beforehand—or not. They can read aloud or simply offer critique in the written form. They can be full of published authors or those just getting started.

 

  1. If you attend a meeting, it forces you to write. No better way to get to work than to have somebody ready to read it.  One of the groups I’m involved with has over 270 members, but only 10 to 15 come to meetings regularly and read. Those are the more serious writers.
  2. It forces you to edit. Nobody wants to read work that is weak. By the time I read something in front of the group, I’ve edited it at least several times. That makes for better writing.
  3. It forces you, in many cases, to read your work out loud. That’s a key to better structure, phrasing, and dialogue. If your group doesn’t read aloud, you can always incorporate that into your editing practice.
  4. Groups force you to toughen up. Most groups offer sound criticism, delivered in a positive manner. One of my groups start the critique with what we liked, then move to how the writing could be better. It can always be better. You need to hear that, continually.
  5. They force you to meet and work with other writers. Writing can be a lonely passion but there is enlightenment in numbers. You’ll pick up great tips, habits, and skills working with like individuals. You may even use the group to connect you to others in the profession that can push your career forward. It’s a great place to network.
  6. Writing groups will force you to be a better writer. If you stay connected, and keep writing, your work will improve. You may not be the next Hemingway, but it’s a start.

 

That said, in my experience, writing groups have little knowledge about getting published. They are all about the writing. My groups don’t include many published authors, so the how-to-write-for-publication is a glaring hole. Most writers will do better reading the books about writing—Stein, Gorkin, Browne & King, George—than trusting inexperienced writers.

But you have to start someplace and a writing group will force you to write, edit, and receive feedback. If you’re a beginning writer or want to write for your own pleasure, it’s a good place to start.

 

Bruce Kirkpatrick is the author of Hard Left and Lumberjack Jesus. He is currently working on several different writing projects. To learn more about Bruce and his books, you can visit: http://www.bkirkpatrick.com/about/

 

At Written Dreams, we believe writers who take part of writer’s groups can be very successful. We will often suggest joining the local chapters to new writers because we believe in the benefits. Here in Green Bay, WI, we’re lucky to have a few groups that meet locally. If you’re looking for a writer’s group in your area, here’s a few associations you can start your search with, depending on the genre you write in: RWA-Romance Writers of America, HWA-Horror Writers of America, SFWA-Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America, CWG-The Children’s Writer’s Guild, NAMW-National Association of Memoir Writers, and many more!

Reviewing Your First Draft: WD’s Manuscript Separation Process

It’s easy to get excited after you’ve written your first draft. We know you want to show it to the world. But don’t! Please don’t. Here’s an easy process to remember to make your manuscript the best it can be—before showing even one word to your closest friend, or gasp,  to an editor. We believe this process is time well spent. Read on to learn more about our Manuscript Separation process.
1) If you haven’t started writing your first book and your reading this blog, that’s okay. a) Do as much research as you need to start writing Manuscript 1. b) Begin writing 200-1000 words a day, 6 days a week until you reach the desired story length. (90,000 words is the length of a typical fiction book.)
2) Writing the first draft can be frustrating. Enjoy the process. No matter if it takes you 30 days or 30 months, this is the first draft of Manuscript 1. Ever. Make it whatever you want it to be. Take your time and add as much of the story as you can during this process.
Note: If you get stuck or have writer’s block, no worries.  Relax and unwind. Do some more research on your topic, or get inspired by attending a local writer’s group meeting. Writers are helpful, unselfish people and most want to see their peers succeed.
2) You’ve finished writing your first draft. Congratulations! Now, here’s the most important step in your manuscript process. Put it aside and don’t touch it for 3 months—that’s 90 days of not looking at one word, not even the title. I know, I know. It’s finished, and you want to tweak every last word. Why? Because you can. Revising it now at this stage of the process would be a crucial mistake and could be hazardous to the manuscript. Wait 3 months before reviewing this first draft. Waiting can be tough, but this is very important. Plan a vacation, start a new hobby, outline a new story. Do anything but read Manuscript 1.
Note: If you do think of an idea to add to the manuscript during your time away, write it down in a journal with the date on it (or the day in the process, like Day 25 of 90) so you don’t forget the inspirational idea that could fix that plot hole or character flaw.
3) Day 91: You’re ready to review your manuscript. You’ve been a good writer and haven’t peeked. That’s wonderful! Now, check that journal for any notes to refresh your memory and start reading.
Note: More revisions are typically made on Chapter One than any other chapter. Don’t have a favorite. Spend equal amounts of time on every chapter. I know some are more needy than others and require more attention. Just be aware that you’re not spending all of your time with just one chapter. Remember to add details for characters, like oh I don’t know, them wearing clothing and having skin color, eye color, hair color, etc., so your characters are not running around invisible and naked. LOL! 🙂
4) You’ve finished the second draft. Writer, what are you going to do next? No, (shaking head) not send it to an editor. Wrong answer. Go to Disney World? Maybe. The one thing you need to do: put Draft 2 aside for 2 short months. 60 days, that’s all. You can do it!
Note: During your off time of Manuscript 1, you could begin research on Manuscript 2.
5) Day 61: Review draft day. As you go through the manuscript this time, you’ll see plot holes or character flaws more easily. During this review, you’ll probably spend more time on specific scenes in the story, making sure the story arc is what it needs to be and making the characters live and breathe. When you’ve fixed those plot holes, you’re ready for the next step.
Note: Getting distance away from Manuscript 1 is very important and allows for you to have “Fresh Eyes” on your manuscript. Some writers say they don’t even remember writing some of the things in their manuscript while reviewing.
6) Next step. Put Draft 3 away for 1 month before reviewing it. Easy peasy. The time will go quickly.
Note: During this month off from Manuscript 1, write 5 diary entries your main character would write. If, after you write these entries you discover more about your character’s flaws and characteristics, be sure to write them down in your journal and include them when you begin your next review.
7) Day 31: Review Day of Draft 4.  Take your time with this review, be critical and watch for minor typos and grammatical errors that may have popped up during the revision process. Add any details about your character that you may have missed before, but don’t spend a lot of time on changing scenes/character revisions. This review is meant to be more of a proof, than a rewrite. A rewrite at this point shouldn’t be needed. After this review you should have a clean manuscript.
Note: If you’re fully satisfied with your manuscript at this point, that’s great! If not, take another month away from it and do more revisions. If you’re really stuck, do one of two things: a) join a writer’s critique group and ask for suggestions, or b) set up a time to talk with one of us at Written Dreams and we can put you in contact with a professional to help you.
8) Submission time? Your manuscript has been fully revised, it’s typo free and full of fun details about your characters and the adventure they embark upon. You’re excited and ready to submit to an editor, but first, should you have someone else read it? That depends. If this is truly your first manuscript and you know other writers, you could ask a few willing beta readers. Many pros do this, and it’s not a bad idea at all.
Note: If you do send your manuscript to beta readers keep in mind that you may end up doing more revisions. Remember to take time away from Manuscript 1 after any revision process, a minimum of 30 days after revising any scenes.
8) Submission time: sending Manuscript 1 to an editor. Request their submission guidelines and format your manuscript in their suggested format. Then, off it goes!
Note: You will worry. We know. Remember that editors read manuscripts for a living and that Manuscript 1 isn’t the only one they have on their schedule. After you send your manuscript out, write down the date sent, and then start a new project. Check in with the editor after 6-9 weeks have passed to check on the status of your manuscript.
Good luck! We hope this article helped you. This a suggestion for a process that we’ve seen work for many authors. Ultimately, you need to decide what process works best for you. If you have any questions, you may contact us through our contact page on our website. Check out our store at writtendreams.com/store for some great reads by other authors!

Rick Roberts’ Books: Song Stories and Lame Brain

At Written Dreams Publishing, we’ve had the pleasure to work with multiplatinum artist, Rick Roberts, and put two of his books into large print hardcover format for his fans.

During the 1970s, Rick Roberts’ songs topped the music charts when he was the lead singer of the band, Firefall. Now, Rick Roberts has put together a beautiful collection of his memorable stories and the lyrics he’s written over the years in Song Stories and Other Left-Handed Recollections. Included are some of Rick Roberts’ best-loved songs: “You Are the Woman”, “Colorado”, “Strange Way”, and “Just Remember I Love You”. Read along as Rick Roberts takes you back to the days with these nostalgic songs when he performed them with his band Firefall and other artists, and learn about what is yet to come for him.

 

 

 

 

A multiplatinum rock star’s life meets an unexpected detour when a bump on the head reveals itself to be a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Told with honesty and humor, Lame Brain: My Journey Back to Real Life is Rick Roberts’ story of his entangled afflictions of TBI and Alcoholism.

Approximately 1.7 million people experience a TBI in the United States every year, with accidental falls being the leading cause. TBI can strike anyone at any time, swiftly changing the course of life. For Rick, this meant losing his ability to walk (with doctors giving only a 50/50 chance that he would ever walk again), losing many of his innate guitar skills, and facing difficult decisions that he wasn’t quite ready to make.

Rick openly shares the story of how he confronted these challenges while simultaneously fighting alcoholism. True to his talent for writing award winning lyrics and melodies, Rick now gives the world a story of healing told in his own compelling voice. He details the routines he created to reclaim his mobility, coordination, and sobriety. Refusing to accept his circumstances as a game ender, he instead considers them to be merely setbacks. Within the pages of Lame Brain, readers will find inspiration to achieve their own miracles and increased awareness of TBI and alcoholism.

 

About the Author:

Rick Roberts is a 40-year veteran of the rock’n’roll wars. He began his recording career in 1970 with the Flying Burrito Brothers and was a major contributor to their last two albums. He went on to do two solo albums and then form the well-known band Firefall in 1974, with whom he played for seven years during their heyday. He has also been a member of Stephen Stills’ band and Linda Ronstadt’s band during his career, and has been awarded two platinum and four gold albums for his efforts.

He has had over 60 of his compositions recorded and performed by such artists as The Burritos, Firefall, Stephen Stills, Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow, The Dirt Band, and numerous others. He is the composer of the hit songs “Just Remember I Love You”, “You Are the Woman”, “Strange Way”, “Colorado”, and several more that graced the Top 40 at one time or another.

After suffering a debilitating brain injury in 2006 which left him in jeopardy of never walking again, it took him nearly four years of intense physical therapy to walk again without crutches or other aids. Rick currently lives and works in Longmont, Colorado with his wife, Mary, and their two dogs and two cats.