A Study in Best-Selling First Sentences (part 2)

As I thought about what I wanted to write about in today’s post, I remembered a post I wrote almost a year ago: “A Study of Best-Selling First Sentences.” In that post, I listed a number of popular books from the NYT best seller list along with their first sentence (or two), and then I suggested […]

On Setting the Mood

I’m reading The Help right now. Well, okay actually I’m listening to the audio book. Yesterday there was a scene where a character was going over to another character’s house to talk. The scene was tense, awkward, and even a bit suspenseful because we weren’t sure what was going to happen during the conversation. As I listened, […]

Head Hopping: What it Looks Like and Why You Shouldn’t Do it

One of my favorite books I’ve ever edited was written by an author I got to work with on a series of four books. All four books were fun to read and edit, and I didn’t have a lot of major plot concerns. But even though it was good, there were still things to work on. […]

On Avoiding Unnecessary Narration

Sometimes a book can be well written and have an interesting plot and characters but still be boring. Why is that? Shouldn’t a well-written, interesting book be, well, interesting? Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and most often the solution comes down to cutting unnecessary narration, which is what I’m going to focus on in this […]

I Finished My Novel! Now What? (Part 3): Self-Editing

Part 1: Advice from a Published Author | Part 2: Proofreading and Beta Readers We’ve come to the part in this series that makes writers tremble in their slippered feet: the dreaded revision stage. I think revision is only thought of with dread by those writers who don’t understand how freeing it is to chop and […]

I Think I Thought: How to Properly Show Character Thought

The problem of proper thought recently appeared (and not for the first time) in a book I was editing a week or two ago. For some, the difference between spoken dialogue, plain narrative, and internal thought is obvious, but for others it isn’t as easy. Spoken dialogue is usually noted in text with quotation marks. […]

Basic Tips for Writing Dialogue Tags

Last Friday I talked about the basics of dialogue with basic writing principle #2. Now, I want to follow that up and talk about dialogue tags. What is a Dialogue Tag? A dialogue tag is, simply, a tag attached to dialogue to show who’s speaking and, in some case, how they’re saying it. The most common dialogue […]

Basic Writing Principle #2: Your Story Must Have Dialogue

I know this seems like a ridiculous problem to even have to mention, but the truth is that I have edited books with no dialogue. This is a serious problem. Of course, if you’re writing a science textbook, you probably don’t need to add dialogue. But for the purposes of this post, I’m going to […]