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Dec 29, 2011

One Ridiculously Easy Way To Improve Your Manuscript

So you want your writing not to suck. There's a ridiculously effective way to improve it. It's easy--once you know how:

Put your manuscript on a diet!

I have a guest post from writing coach extraordinaire, Rayne Hall, with some tips.

Does your writing style have bulges and saggy bits? Dr Rayne's Word Loss Diet helps you to trim, slim, tighten and tone your manuscript. 

In thirty years as an editor, I've found the same fatty words bloat the style of many authors.

Here is a notorius, fattening, calorie-rich word: 'could'.  If you cut it from your diet your writing style will be come sharper and tighter.

Beginner writers are prone to overusing it. Experienced authors  may use it a lot in their drafts, but edit it out in the final version.

Instead of telling us that the heroine could see, could hear, could smell or could feel something, let her see, hear, smell, taste, feel it. Simply cut the word 'could'.

'Could see' becomes 'saw', 'Could hear' becomes 'heard', 'could smell' becomes 'smelled', ' could taste' becomes 'tasted', 'could feel' becomes 'felt'.

Better still: cut 'see/hear/smell/taste/feel' as well.  If you have established the point of view of your story, you don't need to say that your PoV hears the sounds, smells the smells and sees the visions.

Obese version (before diet)
He could hear footsteps clanking down the stairs.
Overweight version (after mild diet)
He heard footsteps clanking down the stairs.
Slim version (after strict diet)
Footsteps clanked down the stairs.

Obese version (before diet)
She could see his lips beginning to twitch.
Overweight version (after mild diet)
She saw his lips beginning to twitch.
Slim version (after strict diet)
His lips twitched.

Obese version (before diet)
She could feel her cheeks firing.
Overweight version (after mild diet)
She felt her cheeks firing.
Slim version (after strict diet)
Her cheeks fired.

Obese version (before diet)
She could sense that something was wrong.
Overweight version (after mild diet)
She sensed that something was wrong.
Slim version (after strict diet)
Something was wrong.

Obese version (before diet)
He could understand that it was time to leave.
Overweight version (after mild diet)
He understood it was time to leave.
Slim version (after strict diet)
It was time to leave.

Obese version (before diet)
He could feel the air chill.
Overweight version (after mild diet)
He felt the air chill.
Slim version (after strict diet)
The air chilled.

Use your wordprocessor's Find&Replace tool to count how many times you've used 'could', and cut most of them.

I'd love to hear from you. When you've checked your WiP for 'could', post a comment to tell me how many you've found, and whether you're going to cut some of them.

What other 'wordy words' do you think writers can cut from from their word diet?

If you have questions about writing style, or need advice on  how to tighten your writing, please ask. I'll be around for a week, and I enjoy answering questions.

If your writing style tends towards wordy waffling, if your critique partners urge you to tighten, and if editorial rejections point out dragging pace, this class may be the answer. It's perfect for toning your manuscript before submitting to editors and agents, or for whipping it into shape before indie publishing.

This is an interactive class with twelve lessons and twelve assignments, for writers who have a full or partial manuscript in need of professional polish. At the end of the class, you may submit a scene for individual critiques.

Dr Rayne's Word-Loss Diet is much more fun than depriving yourself of food, and you'll see real results fast.

Deadline: December 29, 2011. Fee: $25

Rayne Hall is the author of a deliciously dark fantasy about a man trying to protect a kingdom and protect a woman...from himself. You can buy it here.

Dec 27, 2011

Release Day: The Unfinished Song : Root (Book 4)

The Unfinished Song : Root (Book 4) will officially be released on December 28, 2011. For two days only, it will be available for just 99 cents. Of course, you can also still get it free by signing up for my newsletter. I have already filled the 100 slots for free books that I allocated, but I have decided to give out twenty more, so you can still squeeze in!

In the holiday spirit, I'm also offering my short story anthology, Conmergence, for free. If you've always wanted to read my short stories, but were afraid it might be a total money-wasting, mind-melting experience, now you can at least protect your money. (As for your mind, you must still read at your own risk.)  You can download Conmergence from Amazon, but if you'd prefer a pdf, that's fine too, just email me and let me know.

Happy holidays and good wishes for New Year!