MAKE YOUR PROTAGONIST’S LIFE DIFFICULT

Don’t shy away from tormenting your characters. Decide what they don’t want, then force it on them. The reader needs to see what they are made of.

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TRY NOT TO SOUND ‘WRITERLY’

booksIf your work seems self-consciously “poetic,” you may need to rewrite it. The author is often invisible in the best writing.

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PICK A BETTER VERB

It’s easy to rely on the same old common verbs, such as go, look, have, do, and so on. Try to be more specific and choose the best verb for the job. For example: did your character sprint, scuttle, or scamper along the road?

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WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT IN LONGHAND

Try writing your first draft in longhand. When you come to type it into your computer, you’ll get an extra chance to improve it before you start editing.

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CUT THE CLICHÉS

publishCheck your writing for clichés. Cut expressions such as: “quiet as a mouse,” “salt of the earth,” and “in the nick of time.” Try to be creative and find a new way of conveying the information. It will be far more effective than a worn out stock phrase.

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CUT THE ADVERBS

Adverbs are often superfluous. Cut them for tight, uncluttered writing.

If you are using a computer to write, a good tip is to search your document for “ly”.

You may be surprised at how many adverbs such as really, carefully, and angrily have crept into your writing.

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SHOW, DON’T TELL

You can tell the reader about your protagonist’s emotional state by writing “she was angry.” It’s far more effective to show it, by describing the way she gritted her teeth and slammed her fist on the table.

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DESCRIPTION

hand 01 copyDescription can help to create a vivid sense of place, character or mood, but don’t overdo it – excessive description can become boring. Try to concentrate on the telling detail, and let the reader’s imagination fill in the rest.

Remember to use all five senses in your descriptions – touch and smell are often overlooked.

 

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