Writing Tips – 5 Tips For Better Writing/Blogging

Issue #68
Blog # 8-2018
Section: Writing Tips
Blogger: Joseph Clay

Mrs. Butts

I have read several books from independent authors over the last couple of weeks who didn’t have their work edited by a professional editor/proofreader or ignored the suggestions made by the editor/proofreader.

These particular books had a combination of issues that ranged from poor plot structure to inconsistencies with characters, events and surroundings.

Trust Your Editor

A new author should always take the advice of the Editor/Proofreader. They are there and have been paid by you or your publisher to make your book the best it can be. Some publishers will not publish your book if you ignore too many suggested edits.

Now this doesn’t apply to independent publishers that the writer is paying to publish his/her book. These publishers are after one thing.

Your Money!

They will print what you send them no matter how bad the writing is. This is one of the major reasons why there is a stigma surrounding Independent Authors.

As a courtesy to all the authors out there put your best work on the market. To do that listen to those whose job it is to make sure that happens.

line-breaks

Technically a line break is used in Poetry and a scene break is used in Novels. But we use them interchangeably in today’s world.

Your eyes are glazing over, you’re reading each word but not internalizing anything. But, I love this book! You think to yourself. So why can’t I focus?

Has this ever happened to you? Maybe you had something else on your mind. Maybe you were too tired to concentrate. Or maybe you were experiencing a classic case of the missing scene break. Scene breaks are one of those elements of a novel that often go unnoticed because, when they do their job, they make the story flow seamlessly, keep a steady pace, and switch flawlessly between points of view. But when they’re mishandled or missing altogether, the story suffers.

In practical terms, a scene break is just that—a break between two related scenes. But in stylistic terms, there are multiple reasons to use a scene break, each with its own affect on the narrative. A scene break can be used to signal a shift in time or point of view, to propel a story forward and build tension, or to skip unnecessary or mundane moments between scenes. [Source: Standout Books]

The line break or scene break on the chalk board is not being used correctly, although it looks pleasing to the eye it is wrong!

The two most common uses for line/scene break:

  • To change Point of View (POV)
  • To show an amount of time has elapsed since the last sentence read.

There is no right way or wrong way to insert a line/scene break. However to help your reader follow the story it is essential that one is used.

I use  *** centered between the sentences that need the line/scene break. I also have a space above and below the ***.

Remember the paragraph after the line break is not indented.

I will use examples from my work to explain. The excerpts are from my manuscript Witch’s Dilemma.

“I agree. I’ll be in around two to go over your discussion material for the conference, that give you time to get a shower and regroup?”
Megan nodded as she picked up her bag, along with the pink pieces of paper that had her messages on them.
Sandra knocked on the door before she stepped in. Megan was leaned back in her chair, eyes opened, with her ear buds in place. “Meg, you ready to get started?” Sandra inquired as she walked closer.

Now if you read the whole chapter you will see that this conversation wrapped up around one o’clock and Sandra is going to come see Megan at two. Without the line/scene break it appears that Megan followed her to her office.

Now read it with the line/scene break inserted.

“I agree. I’ll be in around two to go over your discussion material for the conference, that give you time to get a shower and regroup?”
Megan nodded as she picked up her bag, along with the pink pieces of paper that had her messages on them.

***

Sandra knocked on the door before she stepped in. Megan was leaned back in her chair, eyes opened, with her ear buds in place. “Meg, you ready to get started?” Sandra inquired as she walked closer.

Hoopte - Doodle.

The reader doesn’t need to know every move the characters make, or do they want to know. If the characters actions are not moving the story forward… well to put it in the words of Elmore Leonard, from his 10 Rules of Writing its Hoopte – Doodle and needs to go.

Hoopte – Doodle is also known as info dumping and/or word building. What ever you call it get rid of it, use the above mentioned line/scene break to move the story along, the reader will thank you for it.

Auto correct

When writing using Word as your writing platform I urge yo to turn off Auto Correct.

Once we sit down as writers and the keyboard begins clicking as we work on our novel or blog we are more focused on what is in our head than what we are typing.

That’s a good thing right?

Well yes, getting lost in our own world makes what we are doing enjoyable. But as with everything there is a flip side.

With auto correct on what you think you typed may not be what will come out of the printer or show up in the blog. You missed it when you proofed the text because it wasn’t underlined in red or green.

Example:

Levi was removing the ear buds from his ears as he spoke. “With all due respect, detective, this is a free country, once they walk out of here they have the right to go where they wish and will (excursion) that right, please don’t tell me your department has a problem with that.” Levi stated as he took a step toward the detective.

The word (excursion) is spelled correctly but is not the word that was meant to be used, (exercise) is the proper word. When typing ‘exercise’ it was misspelled and/or auto correct changed it to ‘excursion’.

Do not depend on Spell Check too much, if you do it’s going to bite you sooner or later. Don’t be a lazy writer. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus close by and use them. Siri is also a great option for spelling.

Text and Back Ground

I wrote an article for Live, Laugh, Love Nashville an online magazine for a couple of years.

The feature I wrote was titled Music Mondays. It was and still is an informative article on the local talent here in Nashville.

When you write an article on someone whether it be an individual or group three reputations are at stake. They are listed below in order of importance.

  • The person or group the article is about
  • The person who writes the article
  • The person or group who posts the article.

The rules to follow are simple and will give you a professional looking piece.

For starters, the person or group is the main focus of the article, not the writer or the organization posting the article.

Nothing is to draw attention away from the article and the stars of that article.

This includes but not limited to, a flashy back ground that covers text or headers, some text centered, while other text is left or right justified, using a dark background and when text is cut and pasted, it has a white background.

The lead in to the story, if not about the person or group you are covering, should be no more than two lines, one preferably, as the article is about the person or group you are covering not the group or individual writing and/or posting the article.

Do not misquote them, if you don’t understand an answer, ask, and if you don’t get a reply leave it out of the article.

With all that said here are some basic tips to follow.

Use a white or light-colored back ground and make sure your blog background doesn’t interfere with the text by distracting from it. A light green or off white has been shown to prevent eye strain.

Keep your text font simple, a fancy text may look good but will keep reader away as it’s hard to read. The text color should be black and all the same size for the body with a bit larger size for headers, but all the same font.

If  it’s your blog with many contributors, set a standard so everyone’s blog looks the same.

Also, if it’s your job to cut and paste the blogs sent to you to post on your site make sure. you keep the paragraph structure correct. At no time break up text with a photo unless it is a change a subject that requires a new header.

If you are writing the article, have it edited and proofed, and if at all possible let the client read it before posting.

Use pictures sparingly and make them all the same size.

I liked one photo at the top then one in between subject changes, that requires a new header, and close the article with another one.

Example: I will insert a photo between the last line of a Bio and the first line of the artist tour dates. The photo’s become my line/scene breaks.

I limit the number of photo’s in an article to 6 but 3 is perfect.

Last thing for the bloggers, but this one along with hard to read text will run readers off.  Forget what you learned in school about how to write a paragraph. It doesn’t apply to electronic media.

Here is a great article by Mike Blankenship explaining what I’m talking about. How to Write a Paragraph in 2017 (Yes, the Rules Have Changed)

I do book reviews and independent author interviews an my official blog. I wrote  a review of a book written by  G. Michelle a Middle Tennessee author.

This is what I think a journalistic piece should look like.  Book review: Promise Me Always by G. Michelle.

You will notice the clean white back ground with black text. No it doesn’t have a lot of color or bells and whistles in the blog background, but that allows the person or group and the article to be the center of attention.

The paragraph lengths vary from 1 to no more than 5 or 6 lines.

I do offset bloggers notes and quotes to separate it from the article.

I hope these tips help you in writing.

-JC-

©2018 ThunderHorse Publishing

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