Why Do You Write?

Why do you write (1)

Why Do You Write?

I’ve had a couple people ask me why do I write. One was curious the other actually said: “why do you bother writing? It seems a waste of time.” They were referring to the struggle of pursuing traditional publishing and all the work that goes into writing, revising, and editing.

The easiest answer is simple; I love writing. I will never claim to be the best writer, I will never boast that I’m better than anyone else, and I will never give up writing.

Simply put, writing is part of who I am, and nobody can take that away from me. Sure there are negatives and low points. Rejections suck, editing and revising can be difficult and time-consuming. There are moments when I feel deflated and even a little lost. They are just moments, they don’t last because I tilt my chin up and look forward.

When I started this journey I was so inexperienced, I had no clue what lay ahead for me. The challenges and hurdles that I face, have faced and will face all contribute to a sense of negativity. There are also trolls, those that look to tear writers down, I see them for what they are and dismiss them.

The journey from writing to publishing is a long and arduous adventure. That’s not to say there is nothing good about it. The good far outweighs the bad, it’s just that the bad things tend to stand up and shout louder.

So what’s so good about it? Aside from the sheer joy of writing itself, there is the sense of accomplishment when you finish a piece. For me, even the editing and revision stages are a joy. They can be tedious, but to take a crap sentence and fix or rewrite it into something way better, is rewarding. Taking the effort to query is stressful, there is the potential for rejection, but the reward is in trying. To know I put my work out there, that I’m taking a chance on myself it’s amazing. Then there is the social aspect. Yes, there are the jokes that writers are often loners, but today’s technology allows for introverts to band together and support one another via Twitter, Instagram, and blogs. I’d say Facebook, but we’ve had a falling out, and FB is not on my social-media list at the moment.

The support of others on the same journey as me is most important. Whether they are pursuing traditional publishing, Press publishing or self-publishing, we are all faced with challenges and struggles that need support. Twitter is an excellent place to meet like-minded writers and share, as with all social media platforms be cautious that the people you converse with arent subtly dragging you down with complaints and negativity. There are writing groups that can be found usually through local libraries, you can find a Critique partner who will trade writing with you and you critique each other’s work. This sounds daunting, but in reality, this is a handy tool in your writing toolbelt.

So when I’m asked why do I write, or why do I bother to write?  I have these handy dandy reponses ready to reply:

I write because I can. 

Because I’m good at it and it’s fun.  

Some people like sports, games, or going out to the bars, I like writing.

Because it makes me happy.

I have stories to tell and they are exciting.

Why wouldn’t I?

For the same reason that you breathe.  (this one is my favorite)

From the friendly to the snarky, I have a response ready that’s appropriate to the person asking and how they posed their question.

So, why do you write?

My advice about why to write:
Never forget that the majority of negative people who try to bring you down are jealous. Remember that writing a novel, poem, song or even a blog post is an accomplishment and not everyone has the skill, drive or interest to start let alone finish a project. 

-Sheryl

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

Today’s Prompt is Moonlit. https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/10/09/your-daily-word-prompt-moonlit-October-9-2018/

Filtering Filter Words

Filtering filter words post

Filtering Filter Words

Oh, those pesky Filter words. I talk about them a lot and for a good reason as I discussed in Filtering Out Those Filter WordsIt’s really very unnecessary and I’m ‘that’ kind of writer. Filter words are words that can easily be filtered out because they don’t have a significant impact on the sentence. They are crutch words that can make a sentence lazy, repetitive or even boring.

I will go through a story using the “search and replace” feature to highlight all the filter words in various colors as I mentioned in Well, color me silly.

Along with filter words I include are all ending in ING and all adverbs ending in LY. I also include exclamation points ! and question marks ?. Adverbs weaken sentences that have much more potential. I highlight ! because people don’t yell nearly as, much as they might be written to shout. Also, I try to limit the amount of rhetorical or narrative questions. In dialogue, they are fine, but I try not to pepper too many into the narrative.

So what are they? I have a long list of words that I have compiled over the years. Words that I tend to stick to sentences instead of better words. I lean on some more than others. Here they are listed in alphabetical order with the number of incidences that occurred for each within a book I’m currently re-writing, editing and revising. I like to multitask on the first modification of the first draft. The book is only 30,627 words, so these numbers are not too bad. I am looking to beef this story up and add a lot more words, but I don’t want the filter words etc. to drag the story down.

868      ing
566      was
421      ?
403      ly
343      that
174      is
158      But
152      up
145      know
145      said
113      look
109      can
108      hand
90       see
89       just
88       could
70       remember
62       think
61       head
60       eyes
59       Then
53       feel
52       very
50       ask
49       smile
49       than
46       !
46       hear
45       turn
43       down
43       move
40       been
36       – single dash
31       face
31       walk
29       try
28       well
27       bit or a bit
21       felt
21       knew
19       Really
19       saw
18       breath
18       understand
17       guess
17      reach
17       sigh
16       tried
15       touch
14       seem
14       sound
13       nod
12       grab
12       wonder
11       stare
11       watch
9        shrug
8        taste
7        realize
7        stand
6        hale (inhale exhale)
5        frown
5        somehow
4        able to
4        says
3        blink
3        however
3        notice
2        quite
2        replied
2        somewhat
1        ;
1        decide
1        experience
0        …
0        note
0        rather

Does this mean I get rid of them all? No. I will sometimes set a goal of say 50% or 75%. Depending on the word I may want to eliminate them 100%. It honestly depends on the word and how it’s used.

As you see some of those words had Zero incidences. That’s because I’ve learned. For them, they will probably stay put. I will take a look to make sure the sentence is good, but I’m not worried for any that are less than ten or zero.

The top five will always be the biggest offenders. The top ten are still the top ten. The next ten to twenty are worth taking a good look at.

I bet you’re wondering why “WAS” is up there? Voicing. Often I write WAS and IS interchangeable. I try not to do that. What I prefer to use is “IS” whenever possible. If I want WAS then I use it whenever possible. This is of course primarily for narrative, in dialogue the rules are different. I will try to keep a character consistent in their voice.

Action words such as, LOOK, SEE, TOUCH, SHRUG, SMILE, FROWN, NOD, etc. will be looked at carefully. There are better ways to describe actions and to show emotions too. These words are often found in sentences that TELL instead of SHOW.

If nothing more, I highly recommend looking at my top twenty. If you have a beta reader or if you use the feature on your word program to read your text back to you(This is awesome for finding small errors and sentence flow issues) If you use them you will notice words that you rely on too much. They may be on this list or they may not. But if you have words that appear more often than they should, it can put a reader off.

I keep track of the numbers for my own personal use. I will make a spreadsheet with the numbers from the first draft and recheck them (using the find feature) for each consequential edit or revise until I’m happy with the number of them I see.

My advice about Filter words
Find and destroy! Actually highlight them before you start editing or revising using the search and replace feature, then find a better way to write the sentence or find a better more valuable word. 

Don’t forget to check out and follow the Daily Word Prompt I host.Your Daily click

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/11/your-daily-word-prompt-multitask-september-11th-2018/

Get Ready For #PitMad

I have discovered pitch parties on Twitter. There are a few of them out there. If you have a finished, unpublished manuscript that is ready to query you can participate in the pitch parties.

What are they?  In one tweet, 280 characters, you pitch your manuscript. That’s it. Literary agents and publishers will read the tweets and if they like your pitch that is considered a request for materials. You get to query them specifically by their request.

Often with this type of query request, you might get a personalized rejection, or if you’re lucky and they like your query, then they will request more materials to read.

I’ve participated in a few and had 2 agents request partials and 3 publishers. There is no guarantee, but it is fun.

is this Thursday! Are you ready? Make sure you read the full rules here! Happy Pitching!

pitmad.jpg

It’s important to pay attention to the time. EDT. if not sure what your time zone is compared, you can google it.

It is also essential to follow the rules. People will notice if you break the rules. The agents and publishers will notice. The general consensus is, if you can’t follow simple twitter pitch party rules, you might not be easy to work with. After all, you want to make a good impression.

I will be pitching for Prophecy Ink.

How do you write a pitch? I can get into the details, or you can watch this excellent short video at iWriterly by Meg Latorre.  Click on image to see the video and her blog.
meg latorre.pnghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7mZcyZU1JM#action=share

There are three things you want to highlight. Character, story and the stakes. It’s not a lot of space to work with, so the pitch needs to be compact.

Here are some that I used last time. I’ll be writing three new ones since twitter doesn’t like repeat pitches.

Betrayed by the police as a teen, Moira must now learn to trust a detective who can see her magic death-predicting tattoo. His presence puts Moira in the path of the assassins he’s tracking. With death all around them and chasing them, they must find the truth. #A #LF #F #PitMad

Moira gets three clues, two choices and only one small moment to change the prophesized death of a stranger. Assassins hunt her for defying the PROPHECY INK. She must learn the difference between saving lives to be free and saving a life so they may be free. #A #LF #F #PitMad

Moira doesn’t want to watch another person die horribly, nor to have assassins hunt her. She doesn’t want her life to fall apart beyond repair. It’s time for her to step up and find out who she is and what she’s made of. Oh, and save some lives along the way. #A #LF #F #PitMad

Each pitch is under 280 characters. That includes spaces and the #tags. I will write three new ones for this pitch. I have about 24 written for this story already.

I think it’s important to have three very different pitches. That way there is a better chance of catching someone’s attention.

It’s also fun to see what other people are writing about and how they pitch their story.

My advice about twitter pitch parties
If you’re querying, you should check these out. They are fun and a good way to get the attention of agents and publishers. As with anything, if you get a request, do your research, make sure they are legit. Have fun!

-Sheryl

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/your-daily-word-prompt-consensus-september-4th-2018/

Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

I have been crazy busy lately. With PitchWars now open to submissions, (Until Wednesday Aug.29th) I have submitted, and that is now off my plate of things to do/worry about. Not that I was up at night worrying or anything, but it was on my long list of stuff to get done.

I haven’t had much time to write lately, not that I’m a fast writer, I’m hoping to find some time to work on a project that has been patiently waiting while I prepped for PitchWars and through the re-write.

I want to talk a bit about re-writing and how it’s different from revisions and editing.

Editing is the process of correcting grammar, sentence structure, tone/voicing, errors and the little mistakes that hide within the words.

Revising is the process of altering sentences, paragraphs and chapters even to correct story errors, plot holes, character flaws or even add to the story by writing in better dialogue, scenes or descriptions. I’ll often be on a roll with writing and not want to stop and describe something like the desk or the room, and I’ll put [describe desk] or [describe room] so that I can go back and add the descriptions when I’m revising. Sometimes if I know something isn’t working and I want to come back to it I’ll mark it with XXX or *** that way I see and remind myself I wanted to look closer at that text.

Are Editing and Revising different? Yes, can they be done at the same time? Of course. I do both together all the time. I’ll often go through a document with a secondary grammar/spell check program such as Grammarly, and then I’ll use the search and replace feature of my word program to highlight issues. I’ll highlight Filter words, LY (for adverbs, there is no way to highlight the whole word, so ly works just fine.) I’ll highlight ING, and words I use far too often such as but, or perhaps. With them highlighted I can address them as I revise.

A Re-Write of a book is different from Editing and Revising but encompasses both. Re-writing can be done however an author wants. They can read a paragraph and wing it. I couldn’t do that myself, I like what I wrote the first time and don’t want to confuse myself. I like to do a line by line re-write. That can be one sentence at a time, one paragraph, block of dialogue, or even a chapter.

What I do.

I will have two documents. (original is saved as a 1st draft.) The first is a copy of the original that needs to be re-written. The second is a blank document formatted correctly. I will copy a segment from the original(taking note of word count if I’m striving for lower numbers and change that segment on the copy to say, purple.) Then I’ll paste it into the new document as plain text, so it’s black.

Then I will read each line carefully, in an attempt to get the most from a sentence. Then once I’ve removed crap sentences, written cleaner sentences and checked for repetition, I will highlight the new segment(take note of new word count.) and I’ll change it to say light grey. Then I’ll repeat by copying the next bit(change it to purple on the copy) then paste as plain text to the new document.

What’s the point of changing the color you ask? Good question. It keeps my place in my original document, and I can clearly see what I’ve done. Same on the new document. If I have to leave halfway through a paragraph, I want to come back and know if it’s done or not. Why in different colors? I personally like the documents to look different even though one is a work in progress and obviously different. It just makes me feel better to see the difference.

What’s the point of noting the word count? Whether I’m looking to beef up my word count or bring it down, keeping track is fun and useful. With this one, I’m striving to bring it down. So with each segment, if I can have it lower than the original, I’m winning. If it’s longer, I can take a closer look. They aren’t always lower, but I strive to bring the count down with each segment. I also have a handy dandy spreadsheet where I track chapter by chapter. Once I’m done re-writing a chapter, I will track the original chapter’s word count against the new re-write. I also have it configured to tell me the total words removed ‘thus far’ and a countdown to my goal word count. This helps me stay on task with a clear goal in mind.

My last post was about some messy sentences that needed to be fixed with some examples. Popping Inflated Sentences, I’ll revisit this idea once I have some more examples to share. For now, it’s back to the re-write.

My advice about re-writing
Sit on the work for at least 3 weeks before attempting a re-write. The longer, the better. 1-3 months or longer even. This will let you reset your brain, so when you go back, you have fresh eyes. I know some will say “Nah, I can do it right away.” You probably can’t. Trust me, this advice exists for a reason. At least write something new or read a book before tackling a re-write. 

-Sheryl

 

Popping Inflated Sentences

Popping inflated sentences

Popping Inflated Sentences

Sharing my editing and revising process(woes, struggles, and achievements) is one of my favorite types of posts to do. I like to share my woes, mistakes and the things I’ve learned. It’s no secret that I love writing. It’s also no secret that I’m a wordy writer. I embellish and add so much crap to a sentence that is unnecessary. I’m not going to throw a conniption fit about my mistakes, they are easy to fix, and that’s what the editing and revising process are for.

I’ve been rewriting BiaAtlas line by line shortening inflated sentences and taking out repetitive content. Today I’m going to share some actual sentences I found within the first 3 chapters and what I did to fix them. The fixes may not be perfect, but it’s a start.

Original: She was swallowing hard and trying hard not to throw up.

Corrected: She swallowed the urge to throw up.

Those ings get me every time. From 11 down to 7 words and it reads better. 

Original: The boy lies and pretends to be normal, but he is far from normal.

Corrected: The boy is far from the normal he pretends to be.

That sentence was too much normal. 14 down to 11.

Original: While they decided if she would be suitable or not.

Corrected: While they determined her suitability.

Not bad, took that sentence from 10 down to 5. Decide, decided, deciding are filter words. As you can see I highlighted decide and it found decided. I use the search/replace feature to highlight filter words, dependant words(Words I depend on too much) and things like LY and ING. The post Well color me silly explains how I do this(I do plan to revisit that post and add some new content soon). 

This next one is a smidge out of context. The gist is that this is an introspective sentence and the man is thinking about the danger of having loved ones used against him in hostage situations. 

Original: How many times has he seen loved ones used against him? Too many.  (13)

Corrected: Too many times have loved ones been used against him. (10)

I don’t like been or being. They are filter words often used in the introspective narrative. Been has to go.

Corrected: Too often have loved ones been used against him. (9)

Corrected: Loved ones have been used against him often. (8)

Corrected: Loved ones are a hostage liability. (6)

Potentially down from 13 to 6. That’s a win for word count and the new sentence fits far better in the paragraph than the many words of the original.

The point of this is to show how a sentence can be whittled down if the word count is too high. Also, it shows that sentences can be recrafted into something tighter, cleaner and easier on the eyes. 

I’m not going to sit here and say that I catch every crap-loaded sentence, but I do try. The re-write is difficult because it is line by line. It takes time, patience and quiet to think and concentrate.

My advice about whittling popping inflated sentences
Take your time to recognize an inflated sentence. Use the find and search feature to highlight common filter words, adverbs (LY), clichés, jargon, and garbage words you rely on or often repeat in a sentence. This will help make the problem sentences noticeable.

-Sheryl

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/your-daily-word-prompt-conniption-august-21st-2018/ 

 

Spaces, The Final Frontier

Spaces, The Final Frontier  (2).png

Spaces, The Final Frontier

There seems to be some debate online and in the blogosphere about spacing after punctuation. I’ve talked about spacing before because I used to do it wrong and once in a while I catch myself double spacing. I have read articles arguing both single and double spacing after punctuation is correct. However, I found a vast majority that for manuscripts being submitted to literary agencies and publishers they want to see single spaces after punctuation. I have consulted with industry professionals and they all say single space only. Why is that? I’ve summed it up for you.

Back in the day when typewriters were the only form of typeset commonly used, all the letters took up the same amount of space, the typeset was visually ‘gappy.’ It didn’t matter if it was an i or a w or a , or . Thus to create a visual break a double space was used after all punctuation.

Today with the use of computers the industry standard for novels and general writing is a single space after punctuation. Now I know What people are going to say. But I was taught to double space.” Yes, and so was I. Because those teaching learned double space. We teach what we learned ourselves. There is an air of stubbornness about this subject that is fascinating and odd. It’s how I always did it, and I’m not stopping for anyone.” That’s fine, but if that level of stubbornness is displayed over something so minor (and easy to fix), the writer might be deemed inflexible and hard to work with and an agent or publisher might pass. While our books are our babies and we pour our heart and souls into them, I was given some golden advice from a trusted industry professional.

“If you are unwilling to change anything in your manuscript, edit or even revise to an agent or publishers request then traditional publishing may not be for you. Be flexible, willing to change, learn and grow. They know what they are doing and what will sell.”

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. How many times have I tolled over my manuscript? Changing things here and there, it can be an unending task. So why would I stop, submit to an agent or publisher and then say that it’s perfect and no I won’t change that paragraph, setting or the double spaces after punctuation? 

The benefits of single space:

The single space saves on space on the page. Seriously, in a book of 410 pages single spaced if I were to double space after just the periods it would add one full page, more if I were to do all punctuation. In this document there 5277 spaces removed when I went from double-spaced to single and ONLY after periods. Imagine how much more it would be if it were with all punctuation.

Honestly, when I found out I needed to reformat three completed 400+ page manuscripts to single space, I was floored and exasperated. Damn, that’s going to take forever! No, it isn’t. All I did was make a list of ending punctuation where a double space would follow. Such as:

Periods, commas, semicolons, colons, exclamation points, question marks, and quotation marks.

 “        ?         .     ;     :     )    &    @

(Use spaces before and after @ symbol except when it’s in an email.)

I then went to the find and replace feature(indicated by the red arrow below)

spacing

A box will pop up to “Find what:”  this is where I will type a period with two spaces after it then, enter a period in “Replace with:” with only one space after the period. I can then either “Find next and Replace” one by one or I can “Replace All.”

I merely repeated this for all punctuation.

These do not get spaces:

                                   Dashes         Wide-eyed. “I was going to-”  Ten-year-old
                                   Slashes         Either/or  This/that
Special Characters %  #  $         The #5 was actually $5.00.  10%  

The bottom line is if you want to double space go for it. It seriously only took me about a week to break myself of the double space habit. (I still do from time to time. Especially if I’m tired.) I have researched this subject on an off for a few years now (when it comes up), and I can say that the current majority says double space isn’t necessary or desired.

Now for a real kick in the pants, the newer generation is teaching themselves to write without spaces after punctuation at all. Why? Texting and laziness. I can just imagine all their English teachers cringing or pouring an extra glass of wine as they grind their eyes across their writing.

One article or blog will say one space others will be adamant it’s still two. I go by what the current professionals tell me, the ones working in the industry. Now if a teacher says to double space, then follow their instruction, but when an editor, publisher and professional writers all say single, I’ll follow their advice because I am sending my manuscript to them not my high school teacher from many moons ago.

My advice about spacing after punctuation

Single is industry standard. If you’re going to self-publish, then it’s up to you. If you’re looking at traditional publishing, conforming to that standard is necessary. P.S. that Search and Find feature is totally my favorite tool. Never use no-spaces after punctuation. Ever. Just don’t. It’s not natural to read without a space break between sentences. Single or double after punctuation is ultimately up to you, just be consistent.

Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/your-daily-word-prompt-natural-august-13th-2018/

Desperately Procrastinating – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Desperately Procrastinating . Originally posted on Sep 12, 2016 8:12 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to procrastinate, heck I’m doing it right now. I have a book to re-write and I find myself doing a lot of other things, especially as I acclimatize to all the changes in my life right now.

desperately

Desperately Procrastinating

As I sit revising and proofing my book again, (Now I’m in the midst of a total book re-write which happens to be the same book I was proofing at the time I wrote this) I find myself constantly distracted. Granted there is a lot going on, it’s as if my mind is like rays of sun through a crystal, leaving little rainbows scattered about.

A slight desperation zings through me to work and get the word count down to a more reasonable number. (Too funny, I am still trying to bring the word count down. that reasonable number of 120k was still too high for industry standard.) As I read carefully, I remove wordiness and missed filter words, the thump of a bird hitting the window veers my attention off the road. As my concentration crashes, I catch a glimpse of my sprinkled light.

I get back on track. Wait, I need a drink. So I go to the kitchen to slake my thirst with some freshly brewed tea and stop to pet the cat. I see little rainbows of inspiration.

Every distraction leaps out and demands my attention. Is this a bad thing? Nope, not in the slightest. It’s the mundane everyday things that influence my creativity. Stepping on a piece of Lego hurts like nothing else, it reminds me to put pain and discomfort into my characters. Another aspect I try not to forget. (This is good advice. Random things can happen in life, why not in a book. Stub a toe or bang an elbow to releive scene tension or open dialogue in a funny way. Make sure to show the pain rather than tell it. for example. Moira crept into the unfamiliar kitchen and misjudged the distance to the counter. She held her elbow, pressed her lips together to stifle the noise. The lights flicked on. “You tiptoe like a tap dancer,” York said.)

Some days the distractions come easier and I willingly submit to the wonderfully regretful world of procrastination. Even as I peruse memes and click-bait online(Now it’s twitter I don’t click-bait anymore), the scattered shards of rainbow light glitter and motivate me. Suddenly it’s back, the drive and desire to focus and work. 

My body and mind need sleep to recuperate. I think that some days, my mind needs a mini vacation from concentrating and creating. Against my better judgement, my mind desperately procrastinates, fervently hoping my guilt stays in the shadows so it can have some free time. (I still do this.)

My advice about procrastination.
It’s not always a bad thing, in my opinion, it can be a sign to take a break or change venues for a moment. If I’m distracted or find myself procrastinating too easily I know it’s time to change it up and do something else for a while. Usually something fun.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

 

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/your-daily-word-prompt-acclimatization-august-2nd-2018/

 

Wrong Article With Set Expression – Grammar #6

Adjective Instead Of An Adverb 1

If you missed a previous post on Grammar, simply click on the purple crossed-out title in the list below to see that post.

Within Grammar, here are the most common issues I had in my story:

1. Missing Article .
2. 
Redundant preposition .
3. 
Confused preposition .
4. 
Object instead of a subject pronoun .
5.
 Adjective instead of an adverb .
6. Wrong article with set expression
7. Incorrect use of progressive tense
8. Incorrect noun form

The wrong article with a set expression, this means that a set expression requires a definite article. Articles are words like an, a, the, his, my, our, very and each, as discussed in “Missing Article”. Instead of it is missing, in this case, the wrong one is being used.

grammar7

Here are some generic examples:

Incorrect: A trouble is that I forgot what to do.
Correct: The trouble is that I forgot what to do.

Incorrect: Be ready to go at the moment’s notice.
Correct: Be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

I found a few of these in my draft. Honestly, I saw them before the program pointed them out. Wrong articles make the sentence choppy or flow weirdly. Some like “Pass time” and “Pass the time” did slip by my proofread, so I included that one for that reason.

Incorrect: Get that done by end of the day and I’ll give you a bonus.

Correct: Get that done by the end of the day and I’ll give you a bonus.

Incorrect: We were limited to what we could do to pass time.

Correct: We were limited to what we could do to pass the time.

In my head, I wrote ‘making the list’ and read it again as fine but once it was pointed out that it’s not grammatically correct I saw the difference.

Incorrect: I sat there making the list.

Correct: I sat there making a list.

The same thing happened with the next one, once it was pointed out I saw the problem. It’s narration so it’s important that it reads properly.

Incorrect: I took the moment to let that sink in.

Correct: I took a moment to let that sink in.

NOne of these errors were in any dialogue where I would expect to find them. I did have a fair number of the wrong article with a set expression’s, most were typos and easily caught. Some did a good job of hiding from me.

 

My advice about the wrong article with a set expression:

It’s not the end of the world to make mistakes. I actually found one of these in a printed published book. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s our job to minimize the number of them by finding and fixing them. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

The First 50 Pages – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is The First 50 Pages . Originally posted on Aug 13, 2016 12:34 PM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to forget how important it is to have them ready and perfected when you query Literary agents or even independent publishers.

the first 50 pages

“Drop and give me fifty!”
“Yes sir!”
“The first 50 Pages of your manuscript that is.”

Guess what? They are the most important. Who knew? I didn’t.  I did, but not in the context that the pages will make or break the deal. That’s why my first sentence ever written, isn’t the first sentence you will read, it’s not even the second sentence.

When they say put your best foot forward, they mean it. To apply to literary agents I need to submit a Synopsis, Query letter and the first 50 pages(Or less as I’ve discovered) of the manuscript. There are of course books written about how to make your first 50 stand out or to rise above the slush-pile.

(I have since learned that the most important part of the pages is the first sentence, followed by the first paragraph and first page. The first chapter must grab the readers attention above all else. If the Agent can’t get past the first page or isn’t “Sucked in” then the rest doesn’t matter. If the book is exciting on page five, then start on page five. This was a hard lesson learned the hard way.)

As odd as this is, it’s nerve-wracking(It’s still nerve-wracking.) To know I’m so close to putting it out there to be judged and hopefully loved(Loved by my beta readers, but not Literary Agents.) The trick is not to freak out about it despite the mini drill sergeant that lives in my brain yelling for me to check it again, and again. I like it, so someone else is bound to. (It’s good to know when to just go for it. I thought I was ready. I was not. I am now learning about critique partners and responsive Beta-readers. I’ll get into these another time.)

I have revised the first 50 pages more than any other part of my book. Not only for the Literary Agents but also for the readers. If it’s not interesting, exciting or fun nobody is going to read further. For the past couple of weeks(Years ago), my mind has strayed to chapter 2 and 3. They were originally chapter 1 and 2 until I added a much needed more exciting chapter 1. My problem was this. They were written first, my first ever two chapters and quickly after that, my style changed. Sure they fit in fine but there was something about 2 and 3 that seemed slow. They were almost the same scenario from two perspectives.

Two days ago(It’s now been years), I had the brilliant idea to meld them together. Pull out the repetitive crap and make one solid chapter. It came out longer than I liked, but still within a reasonable length for a single chapter. Once I put the two together, it made more sense. I knew something was wrong and now I’m glad I paid attention to my gut nagging to change them.

I will read it over again today(years ago) and probably once more tomorrow. I have a few people reviewing it for me for constructive opinions. Then I will start the process of working with a consultant. (I did work with a consultant. I found I paid money for some good advice, but I now know I was pandered to a little. I did not get the critique I was looking for. after 100% rejection I set it aside for some other projects to come back and revisit when I had some more experience.)

(Since I wrote this I’ve re-written the first 50 pages of BiaAtlas twice. I am now on a full novel re-write. This is a good thing. I have more experience and I know a heck of a lot more than I did when I wrote this post.)

My advice about the first 50 pages.

Make sure they are clean, edited, well written and interesting. It is a fine line between writing to please someone else and writing to please yourself. I have set down a book because I can’t get past the first few chapters, so I don’t want to be that writer, and yet I know others that rave it’s the best book they’ve ever read. You can’t please everyone so make sure it pleases yourself. It’s your book after all. (I would add that the first 50 is the bare minimum to have professionally edited. I did and I’m glad I invested. Those are the frontline of your story they must be perfect. I’m sorry to say to those that believe they can edit and perfect it after they get an agent. You can’t there are so many other writers pitching queries that you are on in a million and within that million, you’re just one. BiaAtlas got 100% rejection because it wasn’t ready to be queried. I am re-writing it now hoping to alter it enough and correct the errors that I can pitch it again.)

-Sheryl

 

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Adjective Instead Of An Adverb – Grammar #5

Adjective Instead Of An Adverb

If you missed a previous post on Grammar, simply click on the purple crossed-out title in the list below to see that post.

Within Grammar here are the most common issues I had in my story:

1. Missing Article .
2. 
Redundant preposition .
3. 
Confused preposition .
4. 
Object instead of a subject pronoun .
5. Adjective instead of an adverb
6. Wrong article with set expression
7. Incorrect use of progressive tense
8. Incorrect noun form

 

Adjective instead of an adverb. I had a lot of these little beasts pop up, some are punctuation errors others are me simply being me.

Adjectives only modify nouns and pronouns.
Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. An adverb is needed if you are describing when, where, or how.

I know what you’re going to say Adverbs? Really didn’t Steven King say “The road to hell is paved with adverbs?” Yes, they are not to be used all the time, but some sentences and instances require them. Sometimes the sentence flow or message needs an adverb. While it’s good to limit (Severely limit) the use of them.

I’m totally okay with some Adverbs in dialogue because people use them in dialogue every day.

Now let’s look at my mistakes from my draft of Prophecy Ink.

grammar5

In my head, fresh worked, however, it’s in narrative so perfect grammar is necessary. The correction does sound much better.

We ordered simple cups of freshly brewed coffee.

The following are four more examples from my draft along with the suggested changes.

grammar6

I’ll break them down and show how I would change them if not the exact suggestion and why.

IncorrectGood tell them if they see us to leave us alone.”

I didn’t want to change it to: “Well tell them if they see us to leave us alone.” That isn’t how this character would talk. I wanted her to say ‘good’ so in this case, it was a punctuation problem a simple comma fixed the problem.

Winner:  “Good, tell them if they see us to leave us alone.”

Here is the next example.

Incorrect “That explains why you woke frantic.”

Correct “That explains why you woke frantically.”

Now I don’t like the ‘correct’ version it doesn’t feel right, so I changed the sentence altogether.

Winner:  “That explains why you were frantic when you woke.”

Not great for reducing word count but this sounds and reads much better.

Incorrect I sat quiet the entire time.

Correct I sat quietly the entire time.

Now there is a grammar error for incorrect adverb placement so it will be changed to this:

Correct I sat the entire time quietly.

That second correction was perfect. It didn’t change the sentence meaning and is proper grammar.

Incorrect It was odd paired with cheese.

Correct It was oddly paired with cheese.

I don’t like either, to be honest. My original or the suggested correction. I think I may have taken this out entirely. But if I were to correct it, here it is.

Winner: It was an odd thing to pair with cheese.  

Revision can be tedious, but when I find a crap sentence and I can make it shine or simplify and correct it, I know it is making my story better.

My advice about Adjective instead of an adverb:

Sometimes one word needs to be changed, and it makes the sentence perfect. Sometimes it shows that the entire sentence is lackluster and could use a bit of polishing up. If I keep them it’s either in dialogue or absolutely necessary to the quality of the sentence. 

-Sheryl

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