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Monday, December 19, 2011

POV-How Can A Writer Get It Right?

Point of View, POV, in creative writing is the principal element in creative/fiction writing. So what is a POV? It’s source and scope of the narrative voice. It’s the perspective of the narrator. There are many variations of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd POV that can be used to narrate a story. It is also the most difficult for a writer to master. In my experience with newbie writers, POV issues overwhelmingly outnumbers any other problems such as bad grammar and overall writing style. The POV issue that I want to write about is not about POV shifts or weak POVs. It’s about unnecessary multiple POV usage. Of course, this excludes 3rd Omniscient POV which is perfectly within the norm/rules.
In my experience as an editor, POV issue is also the most sensitive subject to writers. If you don’t believe me, just ask any writer what POV their novel is written in and disagree with them. You’ll find out very quickly that writers get defensive or even downright offensive when it comes to defending their use of the POV. To be honest, I nearly lost a best friend over POV issues. This was our story. He was writing a fantasy with 2 POVs of two characters. When I advised him to write only in his protagonist’s POV, but he couldn’t see how he could bring out the voice of the other character without assigning his love interest a POV of her own. 
We discussed, argued, cried (just me mostly...I think), and even stopped talking to each other. I wanted punch my own stinking heart out because I knew I’ve broken my own rule. I told myself long ago that I would not get friendship mixed with writing because it gets too personal too fast. I was sure that I lost him as a friend when he contacted me again. Turns out, after researching the topic and thinking hard about it, he decided to cut the other POV and write his book only in his protagonist’s POV. Our friendship was spared, and so was his book. In my opinion anyway. 
I think I’ve deviated from my tangent long enough. Let’s get back to the POV issue. My simple advice to him and dozens of other writers I come in contact with is always this. Find a way to write your book in one, single POV. Most readers, even me, would like to put ourselves in the shoes of the protagonist. To get lost in that world, see that world in the protagonist’s eyes, and conquer the conflicts as the protagonist. So when there’s a POV switch, and I’m forced to think and feel like yet another character? It’s not only jarring but very irritating. The continuity is lost, and I suddenly feel distant from the characters and the story.
Now I’m perfectly aware of brilliant multiple POV books out there. However, the majority were deliberately done with skills and knowledge and done well. That is the difference. And yes, though we all “should” adhere to the general rule, it’s not the most egregious thing for a writer to do. But if you’re a beginner, it’s safer to stick to the rules. For some of you who wants to take the challenge of breaking the rules? My answer is, “Learn how to write first. Properly. Then you can play tricks.” Am I wrong? Shouldn’t a baby learn how to crawl before walking and walk before running? Enough said.
Though the writers who are doing this think they’re doing something “unique”, they’re not. It’s been done, and this POV problem is prevalent among the newbies. In fact, 7 out 10 newbie writers come to me with the same exact issue. They can’t write their story in one POV, and their answer is identical. “But all my characters have equal importance.” “How can I write about this girl’s story without using her POV?” “What if the character can’t be everywhere at once?” So on and so forth. To them, I say, “Find a way to write the story in one narrative voice.” Because the truth is....what they're doing is "head-hopping." No matter how they want to package it.
Think about it this way. Your real life. How do you see your world? Unless you’re a psychic, you can only view it with your own eyes. Events that happen beyond your scope are found through a phone call, newspaper, a text message, or someone telling the story to you. Your book is basically the same. Excluding deep fantasy, epic, and/or historical fiction that stretches over multiple generations, a story can be told in one POV. IT CAN BE DONE. Ask yourself this. Are you sure that it’s not your fear or laziness that are stopping you from changing it? But that’s your job. Writing is all about rewrites, revisions, and edits. And sometimes, even after a book goes through all that, the book ends up being trunked. 
If you’re putting all your dreams and hopes in that one book, you’re in the wrong business. You’re a write who is supposed to have more than one book under your sleeves. So, let go of those books or learn how to rewrite them. Chances are...I hate to say it....but they were probably practice books that were never meant to be published anyway. Please know that I write this post in the hopes of saving some writers who are in the middle of a revision and considering all POV options. Remember. POV is one of the most important element in your writing because your voice will depend on it, too. There are tons of blogs and books out there for writers if they’re interested in learning about POV uses. Good luck and thanks for visiting my blog~
Disclaimer: I just wanted to make it clear to everyone reading this post. I am not inviting you for a debate about POVs nor am I in the mood to argue with anyone. I know some will argue just because they can, but I’m not one of them. I learned long ago that I gain nothing from burying my head in the sand. So please respect my wishes and take your anti comments elsewhere. I see anyone so rude as to come to my personal blog just to disagree/argue with me when I specifically asked not to, I will delete your comment. And probably twitch you on Twitter. I can’t stand douches who are disrespectful, can you? #amSTABBY

www.sirraedits.com

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Collection of Commonly Misused and Confused Words and Phrases

For the new, updated version of this post (with a longer and  more comprehensive list), click here.


This is a post that lists the commonly misused or confused English terms and the correct terms. Much too often, I see writers making very basic mistakes without realizing it. Either they don't know which words are correct, or they've made a simple typo. However, we can't rely on spellchecker to fix that for us. The spellchecker will only highlight the misspelled words, not point out the wrong usage. So, here’s a chance to refresh your memory and relearn the correct terms of these words and phrases. I hope that this will stop writers from tweeting me with phrases like “Your welcome.” Because that makes me very stabby. Anyway, here goes~
Accept/Except  accept: to take or receive     except: but, excluding

Adapt/Adopt  adapt: adjust     adopt: chose, take

Advise/Advice  advise: verb (I advised him.)    advice: noun (I gave him an advice.)

Affect/Effect  affect: produce an effect, verb (She affected him) effect: noun, (Headache is the effect of stress.)

All ready/already  all ready: completely prepared (Dinner is all ready.)      already:  by or before stated time (You’re done already?)

Altogether/All together  altogether: entirely     all together: everything in one place, gathered

A lot/Alot  a lot: right     alot: wrong

All right/Alright  all right: right      alright: wrong

Among/Between  among: surrounded by      between: in the space separating two points

Anyway/Anyways  anyway: right      anyways: wrong (never ‘s’ ending)

Bare/Bear  bare: without, unconcealed, undisguised     bear: to hold up, support 


Breath/Breathe  breath: noun- inhaled/exhaled air     breathe: verb-to inhale/exhale 

Cite/Site  cite: to quote, to summon     site: position or location of a town, building, etc.

Compliment/Complement  compliment: an expression of praise       complement: something that completes

Conscious/Conscience  conscious: awake     conscience: inner guide to right or wrong

Could care less/Couldn’t care less  The right way is “couldn’t.”


Council/Counsel  council: a group that advises     counsel: to advise 

Dessert/Desert  dessert: food served after the main meal     desert: arid, dry land

Discreet/Discrete discreet: showing prudence, circumspection       discrete: consisting of or characterized by distinct or individual parts


ELICIT/Illicit  elicit: to draw or bring out     illicit: illegal

Farther/Further  farther: physical distance (It’s father than xxxx.)       further: metaphorical distance (This requires further consideration.)

Few/Less  few: countable (fewer people)        less: uncountable (Less harmful)

Forward/forwards  forward:right      forwards: wrong (never ‘s’ ending)

I/Me  I: subject of a verb (It is I who is studying.)    me: object of a verb (It’s between you and me.)

It’s/Its  it’s: contraction for it is or it has         its: pronoun, belonging to it like his or theirs

i.e./e.g  i.e.: therefore, that is        e.g.: for example

And for the love of everything fluffy and cuddly like a new born puppy, IRREGARDLESS is not a word!!
Okay. Let’s continue...

Good/Well  good: adjective (Your singing is good.)     well: adverb (You sing well.)

Lightening/Lightning  lightening: illuminate, brightening       lightning: accompany thunder

Lose/Loose  lose: no longer have (lost)     loose: not tight, careless (My belt is loose.)

Nauseous/Nauseated Nauseous is what causes one to feel nauseated. Saying "I'm nauseous" is like saying "I'm gross." Correct way is "I feel nauseated because of that nauseous smell."   

Necessary/Necessity  necessary: adjective- being essential     necessity: noun- the fact of being necessary 

Passed/Past  passed: verb in past tense    past: can be adjective, adverb, preposition, noun, but never verb

Peak/Peek  peak: pointed top of anything        peek: a quick look

Principle/Principal  principle: doctrine, truth      principal: first, main

Site/Sight  site: position or location of a town, building, etc sight: vision, view


Staring/Starring  staring: looking     starring: have someone as a performer in a movie, play, etc.

Stationary/Stationery  stationary: not moving      stationery: writing paper

Suppose to be/Supposed to be It’s always supposed with a “d.” 

Than/Then  than: comparative (I’m bigger than you.)     then: refers to time (I’ll see you before then.)

There/Their  there: in or at that place (It’s right there.)        their: possessive of they (It’s their TV.)

Toward/Towards  toward: right      towards: wrong (never ‘s’ ending, maybe in UK)

Use to be/Used to be  It’s always used with a “d.”

Who/Whom  who: subject    whom: object
Example: The easy way by looking at the answer. Is the answer a subject or an object?Who is that? I did. (The answer is I, subject) Whom are you speaking to? I’m speaking to him. (The answer is him, object)

Who/Which/That  who: people    which: never for people    that: okay for a group of people

Can't remember all of them? Then hire yourself an editor!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Twitter Writetip & EditTip Collection #7

Here's the 7th collection of my writing tips from Twitter. I didn't realize how many of these I do... But in case you missed them, here they are~ Thanks for visiting my blog.

Big problem among amateur writers is starting sentences with I/he/she. It's a book, not a journal. Write alternative starts. #writetip
Multiple POV is a direct result of a writer's inability to narrate by actions/descriptions alone. Show, don't tell(headhop). #stabbylove
8/10 newbies exhibit SAME problem. Can't write in 1 POV. You aren't unique. Trust me. You'll learn to tell a story via 1 voice (POV) someday
Writers are doing a great disservice believing writing alone is enough.Take courses.Read textbooks.Without a solid foundation, you're doomed
Give your character a voice with dialogue as well as action. Telling description makes your character flat and boring. #writetip #stabbylove
You know when you see MS on computer screen? You squint, it kind of looks good. Print it out! Atrocious writing will reveal itself #writetip
#stabbylove Another common mistake. Either, neither, each, none, any, one are singular. Use is/was. Ex: Neither of them is right. #writetip
The difference between that/which. Use that for restrictive clauses. Use which for non-restrictive clauses with commas around it. #writetip
#stabbylove Let there be some white spaces in your MS i.e. dialogue. It can't all be narration. Flat and boring.
The biggest cliche moment: When your MC looks in the mirror to describe physical characteristics. Unless it's warranted, DON'T #writetip
Weave char description(their looks) into the narration and/or actions. Don't list them like you're reading if off of an ID card. #stabbylove
I can't stress enough how important nailing the "voice" is. Keep gender, age, and personality accurate & consistent. #stabbylove
Check your MS for overall ratio of dialogue/description. Be sure you don't lack dialogue.No one wants to read a telling summary. #stabbylove
Too much Dialogue? Not if the it adds essential elements of the story. Characters show their actions/agendas through their speech. Voice, too.
Subject is the actor/doer. In "I love you", I'm the subject. Love is the action. You're the object of my love. #stabbylove 

www.sirraedits.com

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice in Creative Writing

The definition of passive voice can appear ambiguous to some, but it’s fairly simple. In passive writing, actions are always being done to the subject or are received by the subject instead of subjects performing the action. Passive sentences  tend to be poorly constructed and long-winded. And because unnecessary words are added, it slows down the pacing. There are different ways to write sentences that carry the exact same meaning. Here's a basic example. 
Active: Sam kicked the ball. 
The subject of the verb (Sam) directly performed an action.
Passive: The ball was kicked by Sam.
Action is performed upon or by the subject. 
Active sentences have direct approaches that make more impact (and still be succinct) while passive sentences lack emotions and are full of filler words that don't add any impact. Here are different types and variations.
Active: The young thugs from the nearby neighborhood took over the playground to sell drugs. 
Passive: The playground was frequented by the bad teenagers from the nearby neighborhood who sold drugs. 
Active: He saw the need to rant. 
Passive: He felt like complaining.  
Active: Her piercing glance zoomed in at my purse. 
Passive: She began to look suspiciously at my purse.  
There is always an exception to the rule. It’s justifiable when the actor (subject of an active verb) is less important than what is acted on (object), or when the actor is obvious, unknown, or unnecessary. This type of passive sentences is commonly accepted in academic/administrative writing or in journalism.
Example: The victim was found near the back entrance. 
In this case, the writer is intentionally trying to hide something from the readers, or the writer wishes not to reveal a piece of information until later. It could also be that the writer wants the readers to focus on the object instead of the subject.


Here are some examples of active and concise vs. passive and long. Writers do like to increase word count, but redundancies, repetitiveness, and filler words are not the way to achieve it. You can see how it impacts the pacing.


Bad: It seemed to have gone the other way. 
Good: It went the other way.

Bad: It had been sitting there. 
Good: It sat there.

Bad: He could not have been waiting for more than a few minutes. 
Good: He only waited for a few minutes.

Bad: I began to move slowly. 
Good: I moved slowly.

Bad: There had not been any phone calls. 
Good: Nobody called.

Bad: He was feeling something within his body, which felt like lust. 
Good: He was horny.
In creative writing, a writer must engage the readers at every page. When the writing is active, it appear more energetic and powerful. When it passively drags on? Well...it'll make you stabby. Go back and read your MS. What is the ratio? Do you have more passive sentences than active ones? Do you have more telling than showing? Either way, it’s probably a good idea to go over your writing style with a fresh set of eyes. Delete the passive words, and bring the oomph back to your MS. 

Please visit www.sirraedits.com for professional editing services. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Editor Eats Humble Pie

So, as I’ve announced on Twitter, I’ve been away from the Twitterverse as well as the Blogosphere for the last few weeks. Why? I had to take time off from the social media and editing gigs to fully focus on editing my own book. That’s right. I’m not only an editor; I’m a writer. Since I began to apply the last edit/polish to my book, I became humbled by the experience, so to speak. Alas...I was not perfect. And I think you guys might enjoy it, especially if you’ve been at the receiving end of my #stabbylove critique of your books. Here goes.
I’ve never claimed that I was a perfect writer, though I think I’m better than some. The fact is even an editor needs help when it comes to their own work because no one can do it on their own. The only advantage an editor has is the ability to self-edit, which eliminates the need for beta readers. However, we do need alpha readers to read our stories and give us the general view of the plot, pacing, and character development issues. Also, it helps to have a proofreader at the end.  
Let me tell you how I edit. After I’ve completed a draft, I print it out. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but it does bear repeating. Things are a lot different when it is on paper. Trust me. This is where I take my red pen and mark it up. Add, delete, revise, rewrite, etc. Sometimes, I end up deleting as much as a few chapters or a character. Subplots can be added at this stage. When I’m done turning the pages into a bloody mess, I move over to my Mac and apply those changes to my MS. Repeat this until it’s fully edited. (Don’t forget to check for word repetition at the final edit.) While some may need to repeat this 20 times, some of us can get away with just a few. Know thy self. 
The last part is proofreading. I let my Adobe Read Aloud program read my MS back to me while I have my MS opened as doc. so I can pause to apply changes right away. To me, this is the most important finishing touch that no writer should go without. There’s a clear distinction between spoken words and written words. Our brains have a different way of perceiving the same words depending on how they are delivered. Again, trust me. This is what we editors mean by fluidity. The words must have a natural flow. By doing this, you’ll spot missing words, incorrect use of words (ex: to instead of too), and awkward dialogue. We always say, one way to distinguish a bad book from a good one is to read it out loud. 
Oh, the fun part. Yes, I’ve spotted so many mistakes. I spelled bizarre with bazaar because I let the autocorrect finish off words in a hurry. I also found that I used the word “so” and “really” over 120 times each. Another thing that I spotted was my dialogue tags. Due to my well-known hatred of dialogue tags that end with adverb (“ly” words), I limited myself to using only action tags. I ended up breaking a lot of dialogue with some kind of action sequence. In general, it’s good to “show,” but  it’s okay to tell sometimes. Balance is the key. 
In the end, I ate several humble pies and stabbed my MS into shape. I’m about 2 days away from being done, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. I’m extremely excited and hopeful about the query process. I have my fingers crossed. Well, I’m off. I’ll return to blogging next week as I promised. I was told to cover “passive” voice in writing by a tweep. I think that’s what I will cover in my next post. Good luck with your book~ 

Here's my editor website. Where I don't make mistakes. Because it's not my own work… 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Twitter Writetip and EditTip #6

This is the 6th edition of my Twitter writetip collections. For those of you who are not familiar, I tweet short writing tips on Twitter from time to time. Some people do miss the tweets, so I put them together and post them on my blog every 2 weeks. I hope you find them helpful. If you have a general question about writing or editing, you can post a comment here. If you have a manuscript/query letter & synopsis/blog posts/short stories editing and beta reading service question, visit my editor website or email me at sirraedits@gmail.com. Thanks~


Another cliche I can do without. "Silence is deafening." No, it's not. So stop using it.#writetip #amediting
It's like this book is a treasure trove of cliches. "Beating around the bush" Unless your MC is actually doing it, don't use it!! #writetip
"Hello." She said. <--Nooo! "Hello," she said. <--Yes!! Please take note.#writetip
Unless it's action. Like this. "No." She stabbed.#writetip
Beta readers: Be helpful. Be prompt. Finish. Writers: Don't be douchey. Say thank you even if you don't agree. Manners, folks. #stabbylove
Just a quick #writetip If you plan to query your book in U.S. you must have 3 different length synopsis. 1 page, 2-3 page, and 5 page.
Don't use ( ) or text lingo/abbreviation in dialogue. No one talks that way. Ex: "I lol so much btw b/c it was so (funny)." Crazy! #writetip
Writers often read outside of their genre. Reading is good but you must read your own genre especially if audience age differs.#writetip
Writing exercise. Take a page out of your WIP and rewrite in different POV and tense. It's a great way to get the juice flowing! #writetip
Some of your run-on sentences are too long. Read it aloud. You'll realize it when your face turns blue from lack of oxygen. #writetip
Lunch break from #amediting Writers. Using fancy words doesn't make your books intelligent. The plot does. Focus on better plots! #writetip
Use Past Perfect Tense only when necessary. Ex: "I have had a lot of experience." is so passive. "I'm experienced." sounds better. #writetip
Don't overuse past perfect (ex: have had). Try to use it in flashbacks (real past) only. It can make your writing so passive. #writetip
If you have a modifier (word/clause/phrase) at the beginning of the sentence, it must modify the very next word (subject). #writetip
Writers! If you start w/ an introductory phrase like "In conclusion" "Finally" "In my mind" Put a comma right after it. #writetip #amwriting

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Show VS. Tell in Fiction

Every writer I know has either heard or learned about “showing” in creative writing. When the readers pick up a book, it’s the plot and the voice of the protagonist that hook them. After all, those are the key elements in fiction. However, if the writing is telling and passive, the story falls flat. The readers are less likely to continue reading if the book becomes a tedious task. That goes for other issues such as grammar and typos, but I’m going to focus on showing vs. telling in this post. I’ve listed examples and good and bad in dialogue and narration. 
Showing in dialogue
Bad:
“I want you to stay inside!” exclaimed Mom angrily as she walked up to her.
“No! I don’t want to,” argued Jenny sarcastically as she smiled coyly. “You can’t make me,” replied Jen calmly. 
First, let’s take a look at the redundant and telling (summarizing) dialogue tags. “Exclaimed” isn't necessary when there’s an exclamation mark. "Replied" is also redundant because it’s clear that she is replying to her. Use “said” instead. The adverbs angrily, sarcastically, and coyly just summarize instead of describing the action that could show the readers. 
Here is a reminder. Dialogue tags are linking verbs that connect the dialogue to the rest of the sentence. Their main purpose is to identify the speaker. They should not be used to sum up emotions of the speaker. Actions in conjunction with a vivid, self-explanatory dialogue should convey emotions. Hence, there isn’t a need for any tags unless you need to clarify who’s doing the talking.
Good:
“Jen, you’re not going anywhere.” She pulled her face within inches of Jenny’s. Her voice shook as it reached a peak. “And that’s an order.”
“Make me.” A coy smiled spread across her lips. She raised her brows revealing the glint in her eyes. “If not, I’ll be going out now as planned. Hope you don’t mind.”
Here, notice the lack of dialogue tags. Why? The dialogue itself tells us who the speaker is. Instead of telling us that mom was angry and screaming, the descriptions show us her movements along with the change in her voice. 
Also, Jenny’s dialogue is self-explanatory. It’s clear that she’s being sarcastic. That is supported by the description of her facial expression. Notice that the adverb “coyly” was converted to the adjective “coy.” The difference, in this sentence, is that the adjective strengthens the verb while the adverb “coyly” was just summing up her entire emotion/facial expression.
Showing in narration
Bad: She dropped the coin on the floor. She bent down to pick it up. She got back up fast. She was happy because she even laughed a little.
This is too elementary, repetitious, and obviously telling. Also, this only tell us about her movements and her feeling, not much else.
Good: The wispy bang fell over her forehead as she bent forward. She glanced at the coin hiding underneath the corner of the desk. Her fingers skidded along the white-titled floor and immediately snatched it up. It felt cold to the touch. With the coin secured in her palm, she straightened her posture on her way back up. The corner of her mouth lifted at the corners revealing her pearly whites. Finally. It was about time she's done something right, and she did it without making another goofy mistake. She chuckled. 
First, there is no overuse of adverbs and adjectives. Second, the adverbs/adjectives used was a part of action description. A good description convey the emotion/action by using all five senses so that the reader can have a vivid image in their minds. Choose an alternative start to each sentence to avoid being repetitious. Also, mixing it up by using various-length and differently structured sentences help avoid repetition and give the writing an even flow. 
I hope this post made showing vs. telling easy to comprehend. The examples I’ve used may not have been the best, but I think they did the job nonetheless. Thanks for stopping by, and if you need professional editing service, please click here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Basic Dos and Don'ts in Query Letter Writing

This might be the most succinct version of Dos and Don’ts of query letter writing. There are tons of great blogs that explains the process well. What I’m trying to do is to capture the most important parts and put it together in layman’s terms for easy understanding. I hope you'll find them helpful.

Dos
  1. A query letter must include book information (Title, genre, word-count), a pitch (a mini-synopsis without the ending), and your credentials (pertaining only to writing/publishing).
  2. The pitch has to introduce your protagonist and antagonist (if there’s any), the main conflict, what’s at stake, and what your protagonist must do in order to overcome this conflict. Be succinct. 
  3. Include your contact information. Include your real name if you're using a pen name.
  4. Check for any typos and grammar errors for this is a small example of your writing skill.
  5. Follow submission guidelines of each literary agencies.
  6. Make sure the agency is open to submission and does represent your genre. 
  7. Address the agents by correct title and name.
  8. Use basic fonts (arial, times, courier, etc.) sized 12 and use single space. 
  9. Use all caps for your book title only.
  10. Mention the conferences you’ve attended if you’ve met the agent there and have been told to query him/her.
  11. Mention a referral from another agent, the agent’s client, or another author with successful publishing history.
Don’ts
  1. Don’t go over 1 page. Keep it under 300-350 words. Be concise. 
  2. Don’t attach any materials unless requested.
  3. Don’t call or show up and pitch in person. That goes for pitching through Twitter or their blogs which is a big no-no.
  4. Don’t list your biography UNLESS your credentials are a degree in creative writing, memberships in large conferences/associations, or a previous publishing history. You may include your non-writing degree if it’s directly related to the subject of your book. For example, if you’re writing a nonfiction about child psychology, then do include your Ph.D. in Psychology.
  5. Don’t get cute in the letter with unnecessary compliments, jokes, or pictures. You’re trying to sell your book, not make friends.
  6. Don’t use gimmicks such as funny or unconventional fonts.
  7. Don’t underline, bold, italicize everything.
  8. Don’t ask questions. For example: “What would your do if you found yourself....” Agents don’t want to answer questions. They only want to know what it is about.
  9. Don’t write the query letter using your protagonist’s point of view. This irks many agents.
  10. Don’t refer to yourself in 3rd person as if someone else has written it for you. 
  11. If you’ve received a rejection letter, do not ask why. And do not re-query them until you’ve done enough revisions on your query letter and your MS (6 - 12 months).
  12. Don’t query more than one agent in the same agency.
  13. Don’t lie.
That’s the short recap of general Dos and Don’ts. Please read each agency’s submission guidelines for specific requirements. Most importantly, follow those guidelines. Remember, that your query letter is the only chance to pitch your book to an agent. Give them a clean pitch that will catch their eyes. If you need help with your query letter, I offer a query letter package on my editor website. Happy writing~

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Ugly Side of Indie Publishing

I wrote a guest post for Andy Christofferson who is an indie author and a great tweep. The post “The Ugly Side of Indie Publishing” can be found in his blog. You can also follow him (Vizprod) on twitter. Disclaimer: If you’re a blind worshiper of everything indie (self-publishing) and/or easily offended, you might not want to read this. This is in no way of an advertisement for traditional publishing nor is it to dispute the validity of indie publishing. I believe that it's one's personal choice which route he or she takes. I just felt the need to inform the newbie writers of all sides of indie publishing, not just the hype. The truth is, there are many that will lead you to believe that indie publishing is the easiest way and the only successful way of getting one's book published. I don't think that's the entire truth. Newbie writers, do your research and make an informed choice. Thanks~ 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Story About My Twitter Life

A writer friend and a great tweep has written a blog post about me and the douches I’ve dealt with on Twitter. It’s a short, sweet fairytale that made me laugh and made me feel loved. Her name is MJ, and her twitter ID is safireblade If you like to read this funny story, visit her blog and read the post “Stabby Princess and the Douches.” You can also follow her on twitter. Thank you for stopping by~

And as always, check out my editor website for all the editing services I offer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Standard Manuscript Format

I did a guest post on the standard manuscript format. Every writer should know this for when they have to turn in their MS to an agent or a publisher. Sure, there are a few who may differ from this format but not by much. And they are the minority. And just so you know, there were cases where agents/publishers who turned down a MS purely out of hating the format. It’s not right, but it does happen. If you’re interested in learning the widely accepted format, read the post on my writer friend, ImranSiddiq's blog and follow him on Twitter --> @Flickimp

If you have formatting issues or have other editing needs, click here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Twitter Writetip and EditTip #5

Hello. It's been a busy month on Twitter. Here are the selected writing tips I put on there. Thanks for visiting my blog, and please check out my editor website for my professional editing services. Remember. These tips come from a loving place.

If your MC’s doing things that defy the laws of physic or logic...give him a cape or something. Make me believe. Even in fantasy. #writetip
"Voice" has nothing to do with POV types. It has everything to do with words you use & how you put them together. Think, writers. #writetip
Don't put many subjects and action verbs in one sentence. That almost always ends up being a run-on sentence. Separate them. #writetip
One general advice. If is a public forum you're using to promote yourself or your books, don't be a douche. A word of mouth travels fast.
Authors. Facebook acct. can be viewed only by acct. holders & is more a personal forum. Plus, a blog/website looks more professional, IMHO.
It's ironic that writers who are firm in real life have the most "passive voice" in their writing. Don't pull back. Use your funk. #writetip
Use Read Aloud Apps to have the MS read to you. It's perfect for spotting missing words & checking for fluidity during final edit. #writetip
your/you're their/there its/it's necessity/necessary peak/peek staring/starring Come on, writers. Come on. Learn. #writetip #stabby
Subplots & supporting characters. They can't be one-dimensional page fillers. They must have merit & must relate to the main plot. #writetip
#amediting Just a note to YA writers. Check with real teens before using teen slang/lingo in your book. Make sure they're not from the 80s.
For me(editor), a synopsis is a clue. It tells me where you think your book is going. Your MS shows me where it went. Then I edit. #writetip
A query must introduce the protagonist, conflict, what's at stake, and what must be done. Synopsis? All of those with an ending. #writetip
I hate repeating. But I must. Again. PLEASE. For the love of everything literary, no fiction novels. It's like.....female woman. REDUNDANT.
If your book has Romance element, don't make it "OMG, I have 2 guys. Which one do I do?" Add some real conflict, Okay? #writetip #amediting
Voice. Too much makes the book read like your memoir. Too little makes it read like a long, dry summary. Balance.
Writers. You can't put random sentences together and call it a paragraph. They need to relate. To a character/event/time. #writetip #stabby

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Voice in Fiction (Creative Writing)

Voice. We’re all familiar with this term. We’ve often heard agents and publishers describe a book by saying: “It had a great voice.” or “The voice was easy to relate to.” So it’s fair to say that the voice is one of the most important factor in fiction. But what is it exactly? Voice is a style of writing which conveys the narrator's attitude, personality, and character. Basically, it’s a persona of a writer.
One must ask. Does voice really matter if the plot is fantastic? My answer? Yes, because those two are not mutually exclusive. Let me explain. There are two types of fiction: character driven and plot driven. I’m aware they’re more complicated than that, but for the sake of this post, I’ll keep it simple. 
The voice (character) driven books make readers feel, hear, and empathize with the character in the most intimate way. Some readers can get so engrossed in the book and imagine themselves as the character. These books don’t necessarily offer the most thrilling, intertwined plot ever written, but it was the voice made it a good read. In these instances, the writing style or the voice will make or break the book. 
However, one could go over the edge with voice. This is when the writer injects too much of their own instead of making it the character’s. And in worse cases, all the characters end up having the similar voices. Remember. There’s a fine line one must not cross. Fiction isn’t about you. It’s fantasy full of realistic but fake characters. Sure, it’s important to make them feel real. Just don’t make them sound like you. All the time. In all of your books. 
Next. The plot driven books. This can be tricky. Writers could argue that their books are all about the great plot, and no other fluff was necessary. But is it great writing when there’s a lack of voice? Will readers continue to read if the story is told in such a boring way that all the characters appear flat and one-dimensional? 
I must admit that I’ve read tons of books which were badly written just to find out the ending. Of course, I got stabby about it afterward. The premise was fresh, the plot was tight, and the potential was clearly there. Yet, the writer had such a passive voice that the book came off as bland and boring. What a disappointment. What a missed opportunity.
The obvious conclusion. Voice is sacred in all fiction regardless of genre. It’s what makes the readers read beyond the jacket flap. So stop being so passive in your writing. Think and apply the five senses. Make your writing vividly active. Most importantly, be passionate, so others can be passionate about reading it. 

If you're interested in my professional editing services, please visit www.sirraedits.com

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Douchesm in Book Promotion

Everyone knows how much I love to use the word douchebags. To be perfectly honest, it’s not my favorite word. In fact, I’ve spent my whole life trying to stay clear of them or anyone who exhibits any signs of douchesm. But I’ve never expected to be introduced to a new form of douchery when I joined Twitter. It’s true that there are different forms of douchery running rampant on Twitter, but I’m not going to cover them all. Who has that kind of time? Not me. 
Of all the douchery I’ve encountered in Twitterverse, I’m only going to focus on writers. Not all the writers, just some. I must make myself clear when I say that I don’t hate all writers. I am a writer and work with writers all the time, remember? I’m hoping, by shedding light on this douchery, I will help the writers better promote themselves. That is all. Plus, I need to rant, so here goes.
Do you know what gets me stabby besides bad writing? It’s those Direct Messages from new followers that contain links to their blogs. I’m sure you’ve all seen my ranting tweets, but it bears repeating. I do not take any value of their words when they DM me with a message like “Thanks for the follow. I’m looking forward to reading your tweet and getting to know you. Here’s the link to my book/blog.” Do you know what my answer is? Don’t just say you want to get to know me, get to know me. If you did, then you’d know how much I despise those douchey links. By the way, these messages are automatically sent out, and these people rarely talk to you. I digress.
Self-promotion. It’s not a hard concept. You should know that this is not the best way to promote your book. And neither is putting your link in every single tweet of yours. You need to talk to people. You need to read other people’s books. You need to build your audience. Don’t bombard someone’s twitterfeed or their DMs unless you’re just a book selling bot. Psst. Here’s a big secret that every Twitter savvy people know. That approach is very insincere and highly ineffective. NOT TO MENTION VERY DOUCHEY, DOUCHEBAGS. 
P.S. Where’s my stabby coming from? Let me tell you. Me and my book reviewer friends have been bombarded with these links. Mind you, we have only 250 DM limit per day. I think it’s safe to say that some of us want to save it for real private, cozy, meaningful conversations with other people. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Twitter Writetip and EditTip #4

This is my 4th collection of my Twitter writing and editing tips. Spaces are limited, so some are very short and blunt. And stabby… Just know that it comes from a good place (my wanting to help you and spread the good message). 

And you can't put a bunch of phrases together & call it a sentence. It's crazy. Subject-verb relation has to be there. #writetip #amediting
When two independent clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction, use a comma to separate them. RUN ON SENTENCE HELL. #writetip #stabby
VOICE is EVERYTHING. Reading YA should make me feel like a 14 y/o girl. It should suck me into the world of shallow teen angst. #writetip
Hate to repeat my self but use ###,***,@@@ or anything for a scene break in your MS. Double double spacing is LUNACY! #writetip
Sanity returns. VOICE. Your MC must be proactive, not reactive. Give your MC a personality. They're not drones. SHOW ME THE VOICE. #writetip
Writers like to play with different POV, POV shifts, POV Type shifts. That's just it. You're playing. Keep that out of your books. #writetip
Writers. There's a limit to how much slangs and trendy terms you should use. Think long term. They might not make sense in 5 yrs. #writetip
Um....hello. How many times did I say to stop using LOL, ROFL, SRSLY in a book? Let alone in a dialogue? DELETE! #writetip
Vocabulary. You don't need a dictionary to read Hemingway. Sometimes, the simplest words can convey the most complex message. #writetip
Sometimes, the issue isn't the writing or the plot. It's the POV. Writers must learn about each POV types and use them correctly. #writetip
I appreciate writer's creativity to come up with maps & funky names in books. But taking notes just to remember who & where sucks. #writetip
Do not use UNDERLINE in the MS. Quote or italicize to emphasize or express words or thoughts. And certainly don't italicize the entire MS.O_@
Yes. There are many many many adverbs and adjectives. But you don't have to use them. Like all the time. In the same sentence. #writetip
Can one hiss angrily as he grimaced furiously, frowning causing his eyes to squint violently? Dunno. I'm no genius. Duh.
No need for fuc* sh** co** bit** Spell them out. That's what makes Adult Novels. Adult language. This isn't Disney books. Hello. #writetip
Readers get lost in Fantasy because the world in it is relatable and believable. Remember writers. Fantasy does not mean crazy. #writetip
Part 2. Soooo, leave some of your crazies out of your book. Even in fantasy, that is like **&*%%#@ crazy. Hello.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Click here  if you want to know about my professional editing services. Happy writing~

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Different Types of 3rd POV in Fiction

What point of view do writers use to narrate their stories? Some writers choose the First Person Point of View because they feel free to express the thoughts of the main character by injecting the voice of the character. It’s the most comfortable to write because it’s the most intimate point of view of all. But among newbie writers, the Third Person Point of View is exceedingly common. Why? Because it gives writers the freedom to go beyond what the MC can see from every angle. They think they’re playing it safe, but in actuality, they’re playing with fire.
First of all, they have to know that there are 3 types of Third Person Point of Views: 3rd Subjective (limited), 3rd Objective, and 3rd Omniscient. Beginners fail to distinguish between them and end up doing what’s known as “head-hopping.” The head-hopping occurs when a writer jumps into each character as if in 1st POV but while using “he” or “she.” So this is why I’ve decided to do a post on the different types of 3rd POV.
3rd Subjective (limited) POV is where the narrator can tell the entire story but by revealing the inner thoughts and feelings of one (main) character. The rest of the characters is shown only by their actions and dialogue. This is where the head-hopping can be prevalent. The writer must not go into the heads of the supportive characters.
3rd Objective POV is where the narrator doesn’t reveal the inner thoughts and feelings of any particular character. The readers are left to view the actions and dialogue of all characters. It’s almost like watching a movie. You know there is a main player, but the scene is from a distance and you’re not told of what’s in his head. 
3rd Omniscient POV is where the narrator becomes the god-like or the know-all story teller. Readers are privy to each and every character’s inner thoughts and feelings. The narrator can go inside of one character to another throughout the story. The downside of this is that the readers might feel too distant because there is no one character they can define themselves with.
So there it is. The answer you’ve been bugging me for. I could go into details by showing you examples, but that’s not for free. I’m a paid editor somewhere...like here. Thanks for the visit, and happy writing~

Monday, August 1, 2011

Share & Promote Your ebooks here!

I can't keep up with all of your requests, so I'd appreciate it if you post your link to your book here by putting it in the comment. I'll get to them in time....eventually. And I'll only "plug" the books I like and keep my mouth shut if I don't like them. For all the authors who visit this page, check out your fellow authors books. Some of them are very good. ^.^ Thanks!

*Please RT when I do plug this link on Twitter. After all, you're promoting your books.*

Update 8/11/11: Read :Ania Ahlborn's SEED, Chelsea Fine's SOPHIE & CARTER , Andrew Chistofferson's THE PEACE CORPSE , Dean Mayes's THE HAMBLEDOWN DREAM , Michelle Franklin's The Commander and the Den Assau Rautu: Book 1. My review? I like them. Some of these, I loved.