Master List – Editing Tips

A growing list of resources on how to revise and edit your own work: Step Away and Let it Sit Find a Great Beta Reader Join a Critique Group Organize your Novel Edits Revise your manuscript (this Self-Directed FREE 30 Day Workshop is a goldmine) Try the 10 Rs of Revisions Replace VERY with these alternate words Beware of adjectives and cut adverbs Read everything out loud or have someone read your story out loud to you Check the pacing and illustration potential Make sure your backstory/set-up is no more than 10% of the manuscript (same with your wrap-up/conclusion) Browse these greats posts on editing and also these on revising your manuscript Karla Valenti writes books about and for children. She also offers professional manuscript critique and editing services. You can find her on Facebook and on...

Master List – Show vs Tell

A growing list of resources to help you figure out how (and when) to show vs. tell: Never name emotions Use active verbs and action tags Prove it! Use sensory language and be descriptive Avoid telling emotions and motivations Know when to tell Describe emotions without naming them (and other tips) Focus on the mood Writing with emotion Keep “intruder words” out of your writing Show with a strong voice Karla Valenti writes books about and for children. She also offers professional manuscript critique and editing services. You can find her on Facebook and on...

How to Spot (and Stop) Episodic Writing

In an excellent post about Episodic Writing, Alayne Kay Christian sums up some of the key aspects that comprise episodic writing and how to avoid it. But first, what is episodic writing? Episodic writing is when a story is comprised of seemingly unrelated events whose purpose is to escalate conflict for the reader’s entertainment. There is no primary goal for the MC or plan for how the MC will get there. The character is reactive, and there is no change or growth. The story lacks a clear path that takes readers from A –> B in a linked sequence of events. Now, why does this matter? As Alayne says: [In episodic writing] The scenes feel erratic, and even though the scene itself might have some tension, it doesn’t add tension to the story as a whole. The story might be moving forward, but the reader has a sense that she is not getting anywhere. As a writer, you are asking your readers to invest their time and emotional energy in your story. In exchange, you promise to take them somewhere meaningful. The key is meaningful. One does not find meaning in random acts of conflict or high-speed car chases. And one can only be entertained by chaos for so long. At some point, readers (rightfully) demand a nugget of wisdom or at the very least a drop of soul. So, how do you avoid writing episodic stories? Alayne has a few great questions in her post and a lot more information in her Art of Arc course (which I highly recommend): does it matter where each scene appears in the story? are scene goals related to the story goal/larger plotline? is the rising action...

Write a Story Readers Can’t Put Down

KM Weiland has a fantastic post on How to Plot a Book: Start with the Antagonist. I urge you to read it. It will set off all sorts of light bulbs in your creative mind. The gist of her post is simple (although don’t be fooled by its simplicity): We think of the protagonist as being the point of the story. But he’s actually not. The antagonist is the point. That’s right. Your story is not about your hero, it’s about your villain. Why? Without conflict there is no story. So really, if you want to write a story that readers cannot put down, you need to infuse it with conflict. And to do that, you need a really good Antagonist. KM Weiland has five great questions you should ask yourself (and you should read what she has to say about these question because this post is chock-full of insights): Who is your Antagonist? What does your Antagonist want? Why does your Antagonist want what he wants? What is your Antagonist’s plan for getting what he wants? What is the Thematic Significance of your Antagonist’s goal? Do not underestimate the power of these questions or how your story will be shaped by the answers. Keep in mind that an Antagonist is not always a bad guy nor is it always a person. An Antagonist is a force that drives conflict. And depending on the nature of your story, you may have up to five different types of Antagonist forces: Head on over to Helping Writers Become Authors for details and more insights. Karla Valenti writes books about and for children. She also offers professional manuscript critique and editing services. You...

The (Very) Dark Side of Censorship

People, we need to discuss censorship and who has the right to decide what’s appropriate (or not) for our children. More precisely, we need to understand why certain literary topics are censored and whether or not they should be. The rule should be a simple one: is this book advocating violence, disrespect, or hatred; is it promoting hurtful and injurious behavior? Then it probably shouldn’t be on a child’s book shelf. But note, the key words are advocating and promoting. That is quite different than discussing. We cannot run from the dark things that surround us. We cannot avoid the challenges that fall upon us. We cannot wish away the difficulties that children face simply by closing a book. Unfortunately. What we can do, is empower children, and the best way to do so is by educating them. Education is about exposing children, as broadly as possible, to any resources that will help them better understand the world and their place in it. However, as Pernille Ripp says in this great post: When we censor the books we allow into our reading communities we are telling some of our students that the story they live every day is not suitable for the rest of the class.  That the life they lead is not meant to be discussed by us.  That the experiences they have had is so different/hard/awful/mature that we will not allow a fictional character to experience it along with them, to allow them to feel less alone, less scared, and less broken. Censorship of this kind is nothing short of disempowerment. On this topic, I think Kate Messner says it best:...

Picture Book Manuscript Critique Guide

While I do offer Manuscript Critique Services, I realize that this is not an option for everyone so I have prepared a handy 10 step Manuscript Critique Guide free for anyone who wants it. You can access it by clicking on any of the images below....