Tag Archives: writers

Words That Are More Exhausted Than These Puppies (Word Usage, 3 of 3)

A black-and-white image of three puppies snuggled up on their sides with their eyes closed.

In parts one and two of this word-usage series, I wrote about how word meaning changes and shared words it’s time to retire. Now let’s dig into some worn-out, tired, exhausted words, words that have become bereft of their actual meanings based on usage.

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Cumulative Adjectives vs. Coordinating Adjectives

Where do the commas go?

Quick recap: Adjectives are describing words. They describe nouns (people, places, things, ideas).

Coordinating Adjectives

Coordinating adjectives are interchangeable.

Bright, warm sunshine relaxed me.

Warm, bright sunshine relaxed me.

*

Sparkly, glittery earrings dangled from her ears.

Glittery, sparkly earrings dangled from her ears.

Changing the order of these adjectives does not affect the sentence’s meaning. You may have a preference, but one sentence isn’t “correct” versus the other.

Separate coordinating adjectives with a comma.

Cumulative Adjectives

Cumulative adjectives build on one another.

A few weeks ago I explained the royal order of adjectives. In the royal order of adjectives, there is a very specific order to place your adjectives.

Guess what? These adjectives, in the royal order, are cumulative adjectives.

Do not separate these adjectives with commas.

Master the Comma

I teach this lesson and many others about commas in my online course Master the Comma: Save Face, Time, and Money. It’s hosted by Udemy, which runs fantastic sales and has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Writers Provide Service to Readers

Tim Grahl, the book-marketing guru, once said that the X factor in being successful is whether or not an author believes in their book. When I believe in my book, then I speak about it with enthusiasm to anybody and everybody. I’m not embarrassed to ask folks to buy it because I know they are getting a great value. Said value could just be entertainment, and that’s enough.

No one feels bad for paying for a movie. We fork over the ticket or rental fee happily to steal away from the world for a couple of hours.

Books are no different. Asking someone to buy your book is giving them an opportunity to enter a fantasy world or to learn something new or to peek into someone else’s life and reflect on their own.

You, as a writer, are providing a valuable service to readers.

Never doubt it!

You, as a writer, are providing a valuable service to readers. Never doubt it!

Still don’t believe me? Think about your own reading habits. Why do you read books? Aren’t you happy to support the authors who share the gifts of their words by purchasing books, borrowing them from the library, leaving ratings or reviews, telling friends about them?

Having good books to read is always important, especially in a time when the world’s needs are so great. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have reading material right now. Keep writing and sharing your stories.

Photo by Fernando Hernandez on Unsplash

Google Forms for Beta Readers

After my first round of developmental edits and revisions, I was ready to receive beta-reader feedback for Love Letters to My Body. I wanted to make the task as easy as possible for me and my readers.

Ideal Readers

First, I identified what my ideal readers looked like. Then I made a list of everyone I knew who fit into those descriptions, and who might be willing to give me specific feedback. Once I knew WHO I wanted to ask, I turned to the questions of WHAT I wanted to ask and HOW I wanted to ask.

Trying to manage multiple email threads felt daunting to me, and I also wanted my beta readers to have the option to respond anonymously. I turned to Google Forms to create a survey.

Google Forms

I can’t stress enough how easy it was to create and use a Google Form to collect beta-reader feedback. Here’s a tutorial on how to create your own survey.

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Writer’s Block, Part 2

Practical Tools to Deal with Writer’s Block

Last week we talked about writer’s block and viewing it through a different lens. Sometimes all you need to do is shift your mindset.

But in case that’s not enough to get the words flowing smoothly again, here are a few practical tools.

1. Consider writer’s block a luxury.

Writers, such as Tim Grahl (Running Down a Dream), Steven Pressfield (The War of Art), and Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones), have all written a variation on this advice. Goldberg even suggests that you open a notebook and write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until you’re bored enough that you begin to write something else.

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Writer’s Block, Part 1 (of 2)

Writer’s block is a mindset issue.

Every writer has experienced writer’s block.

And I’ve seen lots of conversation that suggests it is something to overcome, or power through, as though writer’s block is a foe you must conquer.

Writer’s block is a mindset issue.

Every writer has experienced writer’s block. And I’ve seen lots of conversation that suggests it is something to overcome, or power through, as though writer’s block is a foe you must conquer.

What if, instead, you listen? Writer’s block is showing up because it has a message for you.

How do you decipher the message?

Ask yourself: Do I want to write this?

No? Then stop. Let it go. No “shoulding.” Write what inspires you.

Unless you’re writing on assignment to pay your bills. If that’s the case, your answer isn’t really no. It’s a yes because, yes, you want to pay your  bills.  

Yes? Then figure out what you’re struggling.

First, look at the basics:

How are you taking care of yourself?

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Beta Readers

Beta readers are early readers who give you feedback after you’ve gone through developmental editing.

Who to enlist: Readers in your target audience (the type of reader who would enjoy your book). Who is your ideal reader?  

How many readers: 5-???
This number is up to you. The more beta readers you have, the more feedback you have to sift through. You want a large enough sample that you feel confident in the feedback, but not so much that you’re overwhelmed by the amount of feedback.

When to enlist them: After you’ve finished developmental edits and big-picture revisions.

Where to find them: Ask folks you know (these people don’t have to be close to you; they just need to like the type of book you’ve written). If you have a newsletter, ask your subscribers who would be interested in beta reading for you. This is a great way to engage with your fans, but remember that you can (and should) be picky with your selection. Say yes to the folks who regularly engage with you.

 You can also reach out to local book clubs; check in with a local writing group; or hire a professional.

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Word Count

What should my word count be? is a question that every writer asks at least once in their writing career, and with good reason.

Having a word count in mind can be a goal to work toward. Looking at you, NaNoWriMo.

Reader Expectations

It’s also a good idea to know what expectations your readers might have around book lengths and the hours they’ll spend with you. And those expectations vary wildly between genres: epic fantasies can be four times as long as a middle-grade mystery.

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As You Know, Bob . . .

Who is Bob?

And what does he know?

“As you know, Bob” moments occur when a writer uses dialogue between characters to slip in backstory that the readers need to know, of which the characters are already aware.

Example: “As you know, Bob, it hasn’t rained in seventy-nine days. We’re in a drought.”

Why is this a no-no?

Well, it’s clumsy. Dialogue should be sharp and serve to move a scene forward. It should also reflect the way people speak to one another. How many times have you actually said, “As you know . . .”

If it’s such a big no-no, why do we writers do it?

Because we’ve been told ad nauseum to “show, don’t tell.” Dialogue can be a great way to “show” readers what’s going on in a scene, either by what’s said or by the subtext of what is left unsaid. And if one character is revealing important information to another character, which has been unknown up to this point, that can be a dynamic moment.

But if it’s just rehashing info to keep readers in the loop, it falls flat.

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What’s Your “Why”?

Why do you write? There’s no correct answer, of course, but it’s important to understand your why. By which I mean the reason that will sustain you when the writing gets tough.

Because it will get tough.

And when it does, what will allow you to find your grit and persevere?

Some folks, who respond well to accountability, write because they have a deadline. For others, they won’t eat, or pay any of the bills, if they don’t write. And for others still, writing creates the space in their brains they need to find peace.

For me, when writing Love Letters to My Body, I had a message that I felt compelled to share with my daughters first, and then other women. And by compelled, I mean I knew I wouldn’t be using the gifts I’ve been given to their fullest potential if I didn’t write this story. And I don’t want to leave this life with anything left to regret.

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