Monday, 19 November 2012

My response to...

My response to:


I am a writer and an editor. When I first started writing I hated the thought of anyone messing around with my 'baby'. I self-published rather than be edited. I still have a very strong emotional attachment to that book so, even though now I cam see it has a few flaws and could probably be tightened up in a few places, I'd struggle to change it. However, what I have learned from writing and editing since, I think has improved my own writing tremendously. When I send stuff off to my editor, I look forward to getting it back as I know that any changes she suggests will only improve my book. Also, I have learned enough so that when I rigorously self-edit beforehand, there shouldn't be all that much she has to change.

I have discovered I suffer terribly from exclamation point-itis. I use far far too many! So she painlessly removes them for me, and my characters don't come across as quite so manic as they otherwise would.

As an editor, on the other hand, I have had some authors who are wonderful and some who defend every last cliché and adverb.

Those four rules in particular I would take issue with. It is not necessary to always write in US English, especially if one is a British writer and the book is set in Britain with British characters.

One POV - ridiculous!! Some of the best books I have ever read have multiple POVs. A single POV can be powerful if done well, but it is by no means necessary and can be detrimental and limiting.

And the tense used should be appropriate for the writing. The simple tense is not always correct or appropriate.

As for the adverb issue, there are many times where the writing IS improved by replacing a weak verb+adverb by a stronger verb. However, some adverbs are wonderful and help to set the scene beautifully. It all depends on context.

I do tend to strip out unnecessary dialogue tags, all those he saids and she saids, when one can tell perfectly well who is speaking, just get in the way and clutter up the work.

As an editor, if I read something and it pulls me out of the story, then it needs rewriting. The best writing draws you into the world the writer has created so much that you should not even be aware you are reading a book - you are there, in the story, with those characters.

Monday, 1 October 2012

An upright sea with slots in it

There are writers.

Then there are good writers

Then there are awesome writers.

A writer might write: “It was raining.”

A good writer might write: “It was raining on the night John died, falling relentlessly from the iron-grey sky like God Himself was weeping.”

But an awesome writer might write: “The sky rained dismal. It rained humdrum. It rained the kind of rain that is so much wetter than normal rain, the kind of rain that comes down in big drops and splats, the kind of rain that is merely an upright sea with slots in it.” ~ Sir Terry Pratchett, Truckers

It is not for a writer to decide how good a writer they themselves are. My writing has been described as many things from “terrible” at one end of the scale to “outstanding” at the other. I like to think of myself as a good writer with occasional moments of awesomeness, but that’s by the by.

What we must always do is strive to be better. Don’t settle for rain when you can have an upright sea with slots in it.

When I have my editing hat on, for the most part the authors I edit are happy to take the suggestions I offer. They accept that the changes I suggest make their writing better and shower me with gratitude and presents. Okay, I lied about the presents. But you never know, maybe one day someone will (hint hint!).

However, now and again I get the odd one who resists. They defend their clichés (“but that’s why I used it”) and their dull dialogue (“but that’s how people really speak”) and their hackneyed phrases (“but I read it in romance novels all the time so it must be okay”).

Don’t settle for being average. Don’t settle for being clichéd. Strive to make your writing different and original. Don’t use the same tired old phrases you read in other people’s romance novels, find a fresh new way to say what you want to say, a way that no one else has said it before. Don’t copy, create!

If you’re just a writer, try your best to improve, to make yourself a good writer. We all had to start somewhere. There are very many outstanding web pages with excellent tips on how to improve. Read them. Apply them. Don’t think you’re wonderful. You can always improve.

If you’re a good writer, the same applies. Don’t sit back and smirk and assume that your writing is perfect because you’ve got a publishing contract. You’ve been contracted because the acquisitions editor thinks your work can be turned into something saleable. But if your writing was perfect there would be no need for editors. Listen to your editor. Strive to be more than merely good. Go for awesome.

If you’re an awesome writer already, then you have the hardest job. You have a very high standard to maintain. Do you want to be a one hit wonder? If not, you have to maintain those standards of originality and freshness for book after book after book if you want to be the best you can be. You have to lead the field with all that achingly fresh new talent biting at your ankles.

Sometimes I read something so awesome that it makes me weep to think I can never ever be as good as that. But then if I gave in to that attitude I might as well not write another word. Something keeps me going. And just now and again I read something I wrote and think, “Actually, you know, that’s not bad.”

And maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll be awesome, too.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Money Can't Buy Me Love

<-- Laying aside the editor hat for a minute and taking up the writer one, my newest book from Secret Cravings Publishing will be out in September, and I have a shiny new cover to show off. I just need to write a fabby money-making blurb to go with it.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Five fiction mistakes that spell rejection: No. 5 - No Point

Fiction Mistakes that Spell Rejection

by Moira Allen

No Point

Editors — and readers — aren't just looking for great action and strong characters. They also want a sense of "why." Why should I read this? Why did you write it?

"This is not to say every work should address an Aesopish moral or a grand theme, but rather every story should contain at its core a reason to be," says Max Keele. "In fact, that is my single personal demand from a story: That it add up to something. That it shock me, scare me, unnerve me, make me think, or cry, or vomit. Something."

Ellen Datlow of says she reads far too many stories with no apparent reason for being. "I have no idea why the writer bothered to write the story — no passion, no unusual take on the subject, dull, unbelievable characters. A story has to have something special to make me want to buy it."

A story without a point tends to be "flat," according to Rhonna Robbins-Sponaas. "If we come away with the peculiar feeling that we don't really know why we've just read what we've read, or our first thought is that the washer has finished and the clothes are ready to be put in the dryer, then the writer hasn't conveyed the 'why' of the story as strongly as she could have and should have."

The solution? "Were I to tell a writer one thing, I'd tell her to go back and be certain what her story is, then be sure that she's answered the 'why' of the story so that the reader comes away from the experience with as much a sense of its importance as the writer had," says Robbins-Sponaas. Brown and English of Stickman Review urge writers to, "Write sincerely. Write stories about those things that matter the most to you. If you're writing about something you don't really care about, it'll be obvious to your readers, and they won't care either."

Saturday, 11 August 2012

RIP LendInk

See what happens when you go away for a few days – you miss all the excitement.

I found my book on LendInk MONTHS ago. It had a lovely review from the person lending it which I duplicated on my blog (is that copyright violation, if I C&P someone’s review of my book?), but I did have a little “huh?” moment before I figured out what the site was all about.

I can’t believe that some people didn’t read that bit on the Amazon kdp form which says that you have to enable lending in order to get the 70% royalty rate.

However, and this thought just occurred to me, not all authors published on Amazon would have seen that form.

Let me explain. My first book was self-pubbed. I saw the form, I filled it in, I knew that by enabling the 70% royalty rate I was enabling lending. So far so good.

But, since then I have had two short stories and two novels acquired by an ebook publisher. So far, three of those have been published, all on Amazon and various other sites (under two different names as they are different genres). I did not fill in the form; the publisher did.

So it is possible that an author who has only had their books published through a publisher might not be aware that all books priced over $2.99 have to have lending enabled.

This was raised with our publisher by one author about a week ago and the publisher looked into it, explained to us all that it was totally legal and that by pricing the books at $2.99 or over, all the books were entered into the lending programme, and that LendInk were doing nothing wrong.

BTW, people, the past tense of ‘lend’ is ‘lent’, not ‘lended’. Your books are lent, not lended :)

Dare I mention that LendInk is not the only lending website out there…?


This was in response to this blog post:

Friday, 20 July 2012

Five fiction mistakes that spell rejection: No. 4 - Poor Plots

Fiction Mistakes that Spell Rejection

by Moira Allen

Poor Plots

Editors complained of two basic plot problems: Trite, hackneyed plots, or no plot. Ian Randall Strock says many of his rejections are the result of "the author sending me a really old, lame idea that's been done to death for decades, and the author hasn't done anything new with it." Many felt too many writers were deriving their plots from television rather than real life. "We don't want last week's Buffy plot," says Diane Walton.

David Ingle of The Georgia Review says at best, only ten stories in a thousand that cross his desk manage to escape "the doldrums of convention." The most beautiful prose in the world, he notes, can't compensate for stock characters and plots. "My main gripe is with the so-called 'domestic' story -- stories of bad childhoods, bad parents, abusive or straying spouses." He asks writers to make their stories stand out from the pile on the editor's desk. "Instead of another divorce story narrated by a despondent spouse, how about one narrated by the couple's favorite chair?"

While some stories have bad plots, others have no plot. "One I received was about a woman shopping for a hat. That was it," bemoans Paul Taylor of Cenotaph. Alejandro Gutierrez of Conversely complains of "stories that just begin and end with nothing important happening or being resolved by the main characters." Some plotless stories ramble from one event to another; others are a hodgepodge of action with no emotional content to involve the readers.

The solution? Ironically, most editors felt the way to resolve "plotless" or "hackneyed" stories was to focus on characters. If the characters are believable, with interesting goals and motivations, their interactions will drive the plot. "Most of the ideas for stories have already been used; it's up to the writer to put a new spin on it to make it fresh," says David Felts. "If the characters are real enough then a recycled plot can work, because if the character is new, the story is too."

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Daily tip: good usage vs. common usage #6 - Adduce, deduce, induce.

adduce; deduce; induce.

To adduce is to give as a reason, offer as a proof, or cite as an example, e.g. as evidence of reliability, she adduced her four years of steady volunteer work as a nurse’s aide.

Deduce and induce are opposite processes.

To deduce is to reason from general principles to specific conclusions, or to draw a specific conclusion from general bases e.g. from these clues about who committed the crime, one deduces that the butler did it.

To induce is to form a general principle based on specific observations e.g. after years of studying ravens, the researchers induced a few of their social habits.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

I'm back!

Just to let you know, I know I haven't been in evidence for a while. I've been moving house, which is quite a busy time, and then I had to wait a week to get my internet back.

But the Virgin Man came yesterday (cue obvious and crude joke) and now I have cable, telephone and internet!! Yay for technology.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Seven simple ways to make a story great

Every single writer should read this blog post - it is genius! If you think your writing is good, think again! Read this single blog post and you'll be bursting with ideas on how to make it better, so much better that no agent or publisher will ever reject YOU again!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Daily tip: good usage vs. common usage #5 - Accord vs. accordance

accord or accordance

The first word means “agreement”, e.g. we are in accord on the treaty’s meaning; the second word means “conformity”, e.g. the book was printed in accordance with modern industry standards.