Writing Basics 101

Today, I’m going to go over some basic writing things you should know before you ask anyone to look at your work. This is really ground floor stuff, so if you are in the Advance Class or College Prep, go read Mika Jolie’s Blog instead. Sign up for her newsletter to get a free book!

So do you know the difference between a beta reader and an alpha reader? It’s pretty clear in the names. The Alpha Reader gets to look first at your words almost as you write them. They expect typos, passive voice, too many adjectives, etc. They are up for the challenge and give you prompt feedback. They are worth their weight in gold. Betas, however, are the last folks to read your work before you submit it to editors or agents. They should not be writers but sometimes writers can be unbiased when reading someone else’s work. The point is, don’t ask for Betas when you need Alphas. And vice versa.081717 engaged reader

Typos are normal. Really. The best way to find them is to either listen to your work (Have someone else read it to you or have a computer program read it to you) or read it backward. Reading it in the regular way won’t work because you will read what you expect to be there, not what is actually there.

Passive Voice puts distance between your character and the actions they are doing. When I’m reading a romance, I don’t want to know what it felt like. I want to know his rough hands drew shivers from her deepest parts, a flood of desire heated her blood to molten lava. When I read an action/adventure novel, I want to be there when a concussion of air slammed into her, tossing her like a rag doll across the ship hanger bay. She managed to hang on to her tablet but the plasma rife flew farther into the darkness. I do not want to know the rescue attempt was all she talked about. At the meeting, his attention was caught by her. I am not in the middle of either of these sentences.

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Filter words also make your characters stay at a distance. Maybe he did feel sorry for taking advantage of her. So say sadness tinged everything that he thought about her. Instead of she realized her heart would never be the same again, say her heart drummed out the message that she’d changed.

Adjectives are like the woman who wears too much jewelry. Simple and elegant are a much better way to go. Why did her dress fit her sexily, or her mouth enticed him seductively? Couldn’t the dress she wore, the lipstick she added, enticed him to do bad things?

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Beat sheets are simple tools to use so that you don’t bog your story down. These help you move the story forward and keep your reader from getting bored. There are plenty of different sheets out there, so find the one you are the most comfortable with.

There you go, now you have all the tools you need to make your manuscript shine. You have the story idea, the characters, and the setting. Just put it all together and start sending it out. I highly recommend The Submission Grinder to keep track of where you send it, when you sent it, and responses, if any.

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I hope this has been helpful and will keep your fingers tapping away in writing or editing your work in progress. Best of luck. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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