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My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Tag: tips

Writing Strategy Tips for the Beginning Novelist

I strive to give as many first time writers slash novelists numerous writing strategy tips as they embark on their own unique journey.

This is because like anything else that requires discipline, time, commitment, and sacrifice, more people get things wrong the first few times unless they take necessary steps forward to correct any mistake they might have.

I’m no different, as in both writing and in my other venture of fitness, I’ve made numerous mistakes over the years.

However, as an avid researcher with a never-say-die persona, I’ve corrected many mistakes along the way at the young age of twenty-seven.

Sadly, though, there are a lot of people who’ve been embarking on the writing path the wrong way for years.

I’m not saying I’m an expert or anything, but I will share some of what I learned so you can save yourself time and not repeat some of my mistakes.

 

You Need an Effective Blog

What’s an effective blog?

First, you need to write about narrow content. In other words, My Freedom Flame is about writing, Get Pro Football Apparel is about football apparel (NFL, CFL, AAF), and Train Daily with Todd is about fitness.

These blogs never dive into other waters, though I did this during My Freedom Flame’s first few months of existence, garnering mixed results, but they weren’t pretty.

Second, an effective blog must contain popular keywords in a Google search box. You can see what’s popular with a paid keyword tool like Jaaxy, or you can simply use a free Amazon keyword tool or even type search terms into Google that are relevant to your blog’s topic.

Your keyword must appear in your title and first paragraph, and avoid using the keyword throughout the post, as Google now reads this as keyword stuffing and will refuse to index you.

For best results, make sure your keyword is “long-tail,” a three to four word phrase.

Respond to all comments. Google loves articles that create conversations and comments are the best way to go about getting ranked after keywords. Any comment you get that’s relevant to your article, approve and respond to it.

 

Learn to Write

While there’s no right or wrong way to write, as each style appeals to a different audience, I still recommend you learn to write.

What I mean is to learn the rules of grammar, but remember, you’re writing for the general population in most cases, so you don’t need to sound like a scholar. In fact, a scholarly style might be a turn-off.

Instead, learn to write for general audiences.

Use common words instead of fancy ones.

Ignore much of what you learned in school. Notice how short my paragraphs are.

Keep most sentences short.

Use imagery in your text if your blog is crazy long, like over 1,500 words long.

Use headings often.

The same goes for writing manuscripts. Again, paragraphs shouldn’t be long. When I’m editing and proofreading my manuscripts, I strive for at least four paragraphs per page. I don’t mean pages as in the Word document I write on, but the e-pub and .mobi versions I edit my work on as this will be the size most of your audience will read.

If you can swing it, invest in a writing course. Jerry Jenkins has a cost-effective writer’s guild that has an annual cost of about $400/year. He also has a novel blueprint anyone can purchase for a lifetime payment of $2,000. They’re not always open, but I learned a lot from the guild and wish to join the blueprint in time.

Basic Rules to Follow When Writing Fiction

1. Show, don’t tell. Show what’s happening. Don’t tell us it’s cold, show us. Don’t tell us a character is scared, happy, angry, or whatever the emotion, show us through character action.

2. Limit adverbs; they’re lazy writing. Instead of ran quickly, use sprinted, dashed, darted, etc. Again, show the action, don’t tell it.

3. Limit the words that, very, by, suddenly, always, almost, etc. That should be used to clarify something. Very can always be replaced by a stronger noun or verb. By is passive. You don’t need to say someone suddenly burst through a door, just say it. Only use always in character dialogue, ditto for almost.

4. Speaking of ‘almost,’ it’s a hedging word. They didn’t almost smile or almost frown. They either did or didn’t.

5. Use ‘said’ if you need dialogue tags. People don’t cough words, gasp words, simper words, or any other weird tag. They only say things. Even if there’s a question, still say said. The question mark tells the reader someone asked a question, we don’t need to use asked.

6. Use italics in dialogue only if someone’s yelling, saying something in a fierce or forcible manner, or something related. Again, you can use the action to cue the reader on how they’re talking. You don’t need to say ‘yelled,’ ‘shouted,’ or anything of the sort.

7. Don’t be passive. I like to compare passive writing to what you see in sports articles. They’re written in passive language. If your writing style is passive, you’ll bore your reader.

8. Limit point-of-view to one character per scene. In an ideal situation, one point-of-view per book is best. In my first three novels, Cain is the principle character and is my single point-of-view character. In the first drafts of my fourth, I need two point-of-view characters due to the complexity of the work.

9. Speaking of point-of-view, always indicate when there’s a change in point-of-view and always use the character’s full name. For instance, if I had two points-of-view in my first three books, I’d indicate it with Cain Riscattare, notice I used his whole name, or Lira Ross, in the first sentence of my new point-of-view.

10. Omit needless words. After we go through our first draft, we find many sentences and phrases can be chopped. Chop away. The more basic words you eliminate the more power you can add to your manuscript.

 

A Final Word: Bonus Tip

My final tip today is to use a strategy I picked up in the Jerry Jenkins Writers’ Guild: My first drafts are rarely horrific.

Why?

I write one day, and edit the same piece I wrote the previous day the following day.

This allows me to continually make changes to what would otherwise be the horrific first draft many of us are faced with.

The daunting task becomes less daunting.

Now, I didn’t do this with Northern Knights because again, I didn’t know about this strategy but when I implemented it for my following two works, the first of which is in its final editing stage, I found my edit time was cut in half.

Bam! By adding just one tip, I saved a ton of editing time which allowed me to work on other works in a simultaneous manner.

This allows you to keep characters, places, and plot elements straight without deviating. Also, it allows you to know your characters’ personalities better as well, their tendencies, and you’ll continue to tell one story.

Plot holes are less common here, too. In fact, major plot elements hold much better this way.

Try this strategy and while it will slow your writing down a bit, it’ll save you from frustration as you start to edit your manuscript.

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Effective Writing Strategies for the Beginning Author

As with anything these days, the age of information gives us a lot of information. For authors, this is no different. When it comes to learning effective writing strategies, we’re bombarded with information overload sure to cause the majority of us to burrow into a hole and await next spring when a new hope arrives.

Or, you can simply go to places like JerryJenkins.com, The Creative Penn, and other places and learn how to write. Maybe even take a course or two, or just read a few blogs.

My Freedom Flame is designed to help you out with this, so without further ado, let’s get started with some writing strategies you can implement tomorrow.

 

Hook Your Reader!

Yes, the first thing you need to become an effective author or writer is to hook your reader from page one and never let go.

This means starting with some sort of action or foreshadowing, drawing the reader in.

In Northern Knights, I did this from page one when Lira warned Cain not to use his element-bending ability in public or face arrest and possible prison sentencing.

But, you need to do more than hook from the beginning. You need to create problems for the protagonist, usually set up by the antagonist or a misdeed from the protagonist, to keep the reader hooked for the long haul.

Northern Knights is 385 pages long, so you can bet I had to create more than a few situations for Cain and his friends, some of which mattered between life and death just to grasp the scope.

If you want to learn more on how to hook your reader, visit my product review, link below, for Hooked by Les Edgerton. In it, Edgerton touches up on how you can hook your reader throughout and for those traditionally published authors, how to get published again and again.

 

<<< Click Here to Read my Review on Hooked by Les Edgerton >>>

 

Don’t Tell Us, Show Us

A reader is reading your work for the experience, not to admire your writing or anything else these days.

Why?

Because us authors are in competition with the computer I’m writing this article on. There are hundreds of ways to be entertained these days so, give people a reason to gravitate toward your work.

How do the best writers succeed?

They give the reader the ultimate experience as if they’ve been sucked into the story.

Think of your favorite works and how you felt you were there experiencing things.

Do the same here with gaining a readership.

Use action, not just sentences or phrases, to explain things.

Don’t say ‘it was cold.’ Show that it’s cold by having your character bundle up and thrust their hands into their pockets.

Ditto for heat. It’s not hot if you say ‘it was hot.’ Talk about how sweat is pouring from the character’s body, mention they’re wearing a tank top, shorts, and sunglasses. Maybe they’re down in South Beach, Florida? Show us and let us experience it.

Omit Needless Words

Newsflash, but being wordy isn’t going to win over any readers. Not just that, your work is far less powerful. For instance, don’t say something like,

‘Cain followed Lira up the winding hill where he saw the apex just visible a few hundred yards in front of him.’

Imagine reading a novel where every sentence resembled this. It’d be a chore for the reader.

Try something like this,

‘Cain followed Lira up the winding hill where the apex appeared a few hundred yards ahead.’

The second sentence contains six fewer words than the previous, a 27.3% reduction in word usage.

Think of it this way: The fewer words you need, the more power you’ll bring to the story.

I also want to draw on a few more points here which I’ll hit up on in later articles.

Notice I cut the word ‘just,’ which is a hedging word. Don’t say they just did this or just did that. Either they did something or they didn’t. Again, I’ll write a full article on words you shouldn’t overuse in your text, including but not limited to that, only, barely, almost, and just.

Also, I eliminated ‘Cain looked’ because I’m in his point-of-view. This is an article I’m going to crush maybe even as soon as tomorrow. When we’re in point-of-view, stay deep! Minimize the number of times you go distant with point-of view to keep the reader engaged.

Again, for more information on keeping the reader engaged, click below for my review of Hooked, which specializes in reader engagement.

 

<<< Learn How to Hook Your Reader >>>

 

Be Active, Not Passive

Finally, don’t write in ways a journalist does, which is passive language. In fact, don’t write in ways people talk.

For instance, I struggled with this in Northern Knights due to my sports subplot as in early drafts, I tried to imitate ways a sports caster might call a game.

Instead of saying things like ‘Cain was brought down by Scotty Volt after jumping up to catch the ball’ I’ll instead say ‘Cain caught the ball and Scotty Volt leveled him.’

Notice how much more power the second phrase brings.

Here’s another example.

‘Cain threw the ball downfield where it was caught by Savannah.’

Instead, let’s make this phrase more powerful.

‘Cain threw a dart downfield and Savannah caught it.’

Or for more power.

‘Savannah caught Cain’s bullet downfield.’

Notice something else. I used stronger words, like bullet or dart instead of pass. For those who love sports scenes, this is a good way to add some theatrics. When one thinks of a dart or a bullet, they think of a fast throw.

Or, I could say that ‘Cain threw a rainbow downfield and Savannah caught it.’

Or, ‘Savannah caught Cain’s rainbow.’

Again, readers would associate a rainbow with a downfield lob, usually an arching pass. Words like a Hail Mary, bomb, or something similar fit the mold as well.

This allows the writer to be more descriptive without using more words than necessary.

 

Put it Into Practice

Okay, peeps, now it’s your turn. Take what you learned and put the work into practice. What you need to do is take your first draft or completed manuscript and:

1: See where you’re passive and reword each sentence.

2: Omit needless words like just, that, only, almost, and others like them. Again, I’ll write a complete article on this subject in time.

3: Show, don’t tell. If something is this or something is that, show it, don’t tell it. If someone said something angrily, show it by putting the characters in action.

4: Be active, not passive. Get rid of phrases saying that the book was read by the teacher. Just say the teacher read the book.

5: Get rid of weak nouns and verbs and opt for something more powerful. Let the reader experience that power.

Now, go out, fix your mistakes, and compare how much better your work reads after implementing my five tips. Oh, and if you haven’t done so yet, check out Hooked by Les Edgerton.

 

<<< Click Here for More Information on Hooked >>>

 

Book Writing Tips for Beginning Authors

Five Book Writing Tips to Live By

The challenge is real. Writing a book requires commitment that might take as long as three to five years before our masterpiece is finally on store shelves on or offline. Not only are beginning authors competing with established veterans of the writing craft, every reader will judge the quality of their work.

 

Today I’m going to discuss five book writing tips beginning authors need to live by. These five tips were once upon a time my greatest weaknesses to the writing craft just last year. Today, I’ve conquered them and I want to give my audience a chance to do the same.

 

Tip One: Avoid Throat Clearing

When I first drafted Northern Knights chapters one and two consisted of endless throat clearing. Throat clearing is unnecessary backstory which can be avoided. Though such backstory may be necessary to the plot, it slows down the action.

 

Think of a heckler in an audience yelling, “just get on with it!” Every time you stall action in your novel for backstory, such a phrase should be running through your mind. Get on with the story and avoid unnecessary throat clearing that will motivate a reader put your book down in favor of something else. There are millions of books, people!

 

Instead, let backstory seep throughout the work. When I rewrote Northern Knights I unveiled backstory through conversation between my main character Cain and supporting characters.

 

I used beats to break endless dialogue, short paragraphs to keep enough white space in the text, and unique scenes every time I leaked backstory.

 

Utilize this technique and your reader will be interested throughout the work instead of skimming through pages to find the story.

 

Tip Two: Show, Don’t Tell

Phrases like ‘it was hot’ or ‘it was cold’ are boring and your readers’ heads will smack their books or kindles. Not just that, it’s lazy writing.

 

Not what a new author wants to do as it’s an immediate credibility killer.

 

Instead of stating it was hot, describe sweat pouring down your characters’ faces, insert the kind of clothes they’re wearing, and maybe even state they’re chugging water.

 

If it’s cold, state in the story how your character fastens their jackets and turns their face against the wind.

 

Here’s an action scene example. Don’t state Cain’s running down the field, show Cain in action. Finding a wide-open Savannah, Cain motioned to throw while two three-hundred pound defenders closed in’ sounds a lot better than ‘Cain threw to Savannah.’

 

Tip Three: Avoid clichés

Avoid clichés in your text most of the time. You might have a character who speaks in cliches, and that’s fine.

 

But when your text is full of redundant clichés, readers won’t be impressed. Clichés display a lack of originality in your writing.

 

If you’re unsure whether you’re writing clichés, I recommend using Pro Writing Aid’s Editing Tool. The basic tool is free to use with generous upgrades.

 

Almost any cliché can be spun into original content and being aware of clichés will allow you to display your originality, setting yourself apart from the sea of authors.

 

Tip Four: Omit Needless Words

Once upon a time, I thought more was better. More is never better. Less is more and to a reader,  they will experience more action and fewer slowdowns.

 

Instead of stating ‘Cain was up at the break of dawn and slumbered to William-Morgan Hall so that he could eat his breakfast,’ you can rephrase this into ‘Cain strolled to William-Morgan Hall at dawn for breakfast.’

 

Fewer words equals more power. I could’ve kept the former phrase in Northern Knights and all identical phrases to it but fewer words moves the story, the action, and will keep the reader turning pages.

 

Tip Five: Avoid On-The-Nose Writing

Say your novel takes place at a college campus where much of Northern Knights is set.

 

Do we really need to describe such campuses in broad detail?

 

Better yet, do we need to describe what a dining hall looks like?

 

On-the-nose writing occurs when an author describes persons, places, or things that closely resemble real life.

 

I’m sitting in a library as I write this.

 

You, as the reader, can already picture me sitting in a library and writing this article about book writing tips.

 

I don’t have to describe the bookshelves, newspaper shelves, librarians, tables, patrons, and anything else that has to do with a library. By stating library, you have a firm picture in your mind what I’m talking about.

 

Book Writing Tips to Remember

There are numerous book writing tips out there and a good twenty-plus “rules” to the craft. I quote rules because they’re more unwritten rules, more as in, reader preferences.

 

Now, there are exception. Some readers love authors who are anti-minimalist but it’s a minute percentage. A cult following at that.

 

By implementing the five tips above, your readers will rave about your writing from cover to cover as you deliver well-written works to your target audience.

 

Apply These Tips

What are you waiting for?

 

Get to your manuscript that needs attention, dissect every page, use the Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool, and start working.

 

I recommend taking one tip at a time, mastering it, and moving onto another tip. Writing is a craft that requires practice and improvement won’t happen overnight.

 

Again, it took me a few months to gain a firm grasp on the above tips.

 

But, with continued practice, you too will work on becoming the master of the writing craft.

 

So, stop waiting and start doing! Master these book writing tips as I churn out more articles like this with the goal of turning you into a better writer.

 

Remember, when publishing a book to any outlet, you’re exposing your story to a global audience, so taking the time to master these tips will pay off for you.

 

You’ll gain a readership, a trusted tribe, and maybe even a few superfans.

 

I’d like to thank all writers and authors coming across My Freedom Flame, please come back soon.

 

 

 

 

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