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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Writing Wednesday Tip - "Naming Chapters"

Just a quick tip today because the snow storms this week have been wreaking havoc on the internet service 💨😱

A lot of submissions cross my desk where the chapters are titled with the main characters' names....and I simply have to ask the question why?

For starters, it can belittle both you and the reader if you have to TELL them who the chapter is about, especially over and over and over again:

Chapter One:  David
Chapter Two: Lily
Chapter Three: David
Chapter Four: Lily...

Monotonous.

The better option is a clear first line or second line/short paragraph of specific perception to strongly establish point of view of the chapter/scene.  Deeper POV works wonders in these situations.  SHOW the reader who the main character is by putting them right in that character's head ASAP at the beginning of the chapter.  Even if you are using first person for each character, there are subtle and strong ways to ensure the reader knows whose perception the moment is in.

The second reason for not using names as a chapter title is that you are basically dropping a big honking brick wall into your story, which totally defeats the purpose, especially if there is a good hook at the end of the previous chapter.  This wall stops the read flat, yanking the reader right out of your story for a second or two to read a name that is actually redundant to Tell.  And these are PRECIOUS moments you don't want to lose, because those are the exact seconds they remember the laundry needs to be moved from the washer to the dryer or they aren't ready for the meeting the next morning and really should look over those notes or get a good night's sleep.  Without that wall, without that redundant Name, your reader will go right from the end of one tense chapter to continue immediately into the tension of the next, to find out what happens next, and keep turning the pages, eager to read more.

Just to be clear, it is not wrong if you want to title your chapters, but that title should have a purpose, mean something to the story, and just repeating names over and over for every chapter just doesn't have that impact, so instead, let the characters themselves give your readers a reason to keep turning your pages fast and furiously!


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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Don't Make This a Passive Year!

Let's start Writing Wednesdays this year on a strong note...by getting rid of those passive verbs that make your manuscript Telling.

The trick is to let your character Show the scene through his/her specific experience of the moment, and part of this is using stronger verbs to mirror the tone so as to pull the reader into the experience with your main character.

Now remember, the first draft is just that, a first draft....let it all out and who cares how it reads or what specific words you use. THE most important thing about the first draft is that you get the story out of your head and onto the paper/computer screen--because there is a good chance it won’t ever get written if it stays in your brain while you try to get it “perfect.” Trust me, I know because I am sooooo bad at doing that.

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” 
~ Terry Pratchett

It is when you are revising that you want to start layering in details for the reader, choosing specific word that will paint a vivid picture, deepen your characters, and bring out a fully rounded story.

"Was" before an "ing" word is the biggest red flashing light you want to look for to revise the Passive out of your manuscript. To be clear, it is not wrong to have some of these type of verb phrases; you just don’t want to only have them, or have a large percentage of them, as it will lend to a Telling read. You  want to make sure you have sought out and assessed each instance to ensure if they are valid or could be stronger.

Let’s see a few examples in three different ways—Telling/Passive, the Better choice, and a Stronger version, which could Show more specifically the experience of the character in that moment:

Telling/Passive: was walking
Better: walked
Stronger: strolled, meandered, hurried, scurried, strutted, sashayed—each one gives a very different experience of the moment, and using the right word to mirror your character’s mood/perception at that time will strengthen the overall tone of the scene.

Telling/Passive: was eating
Better: ate
Stronger: gulped, chewed, chomped

Telling/Passive: was thinking
Better: thought, considered
Stronger: studied, mused, contemplated, worried

Again, occasional use of the passive can work, but when the goal is to draw your reader into the moment, a more descriptive verb that mirrors the tone of the scene  paints a moment they can experience with your character.

Try it in your own manuscript by doing a Find search for "ing" on a few pages at a time and see how many passive verbs you can strengthen.

Keep passive writing back in 2018.  Let's make 2019 a strong and active writing year! 😉




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Visit me on social media and at my website ~ links on the side 💟


Sunday, February 03, 2019

Special Day!






We are celebrating Jimmy's Gotcha Day today.  Three years ago, he picked us to come home with from the shelter.


He is DEFINITELY a character and all attitude LOL.
 

But the funniest, lovingest, steal-the-middle-of-the-beddiest puppy ever.

If you pop over to my Instagram stories [ @bystacydawn ] or Facebook post you will be able to watch the video of him telling his mama he loves her 😁💖

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Walking into 2019

I hope everyone had a good start to their new year!

I have been "filling the well" as they say and taking a bit of time off after a pretty gung-ho end of last year.  But I am slowly putting things together and will have the regular Writing Wednesdays tips and topics starting up again shortly, as well as working on the Demystifying Deeper POV ebook to have ready as one of my main goals this year.


Speaking of goals, here is another BIG one!


Okay, let's be honest for a minute, I am not actually, physically walking across Canada LOL. But I have made this journal spread so I can keep track of my steps to see how long it would take me and as intensive to move more every day.  I will share my progress province to province on some of the Sunday Funday posts 😁

What are your hopes/goals for this year?  Remember, big or little, something to focus toward helps pave the path to follow your dreams.