Want to improve your fiction writing? The Internet is your oyster!

So many people leap into fiction writing just because they have what they think is a "plot" in their heads. The fact is, you need only have a glimmer of a plot in mind if you want to write fiction. The only question you should have in your mind at this stage is, "What tools do I need in order to write good fiction?" And I don't mean fancy computer technology. Writing is a craft, and just like any other craft, the right skills and tools are needed to produce an exceptional product. Continue reading ➝

Redundancies and pleonasms

Redundancy is just one of the many problems that fall under the general category of Wordiness. A redundant phrase or expression is called a pleonasm. You may think you know when a redundancy occurs, but some of them can be subtle. The following seems like a simple sentence, but look closer and you'll see all the redundancy. "An unexpected surprise came when a pair of baby twins was born at 12 midnight." What is a surprise if not unexpected? What are twins if not a pair? Who can be born but a baby? When is midnight if not at 12? Continue reading ➝

Book marketing tips from one of my successful authors

With delight, I've been following the publishing success of my author, David Shepherd, whose whose novel, Resurrecting Randi, has achieved steady sales since it was published early in 2008 by Balios Publishing Co. Recently, I asked David what he thought were the most important elements of his marketing strategy. Here's his detailed e-mailed reply: Continue reading ➝

Book scribbles

This isn't a writing or grammar tip, but an observation. Have you ever noticed how we treat books so delicately, almost as though they were ancient artifacts? Eager to begin reading, we buy a new book, its pages crisp and fresh and enticingly unexamined by any other human eyes. An exciting new adventure is about to begin within. Yet somehow, we cringe with reluctance when we break the spine. Finally, the deed is done and the reading begins, but still it's as though we're holding a treasure in our hands. Heaven forbid we should spill a few drops of coffee on the cover, or accidentally drop a blob of food between its revered pages. Continue reading ➝

When to use “that” and “which”

Many people are confused about the exact usage of the relative pronouns "that" and "which" in North American English. Which is correct and in what context? "That" is always used in a restrictive sense; that is, it defines or narrows a category or identifies an item in a group. A clause using the word "that" is necessary to the sentence or restricts the meaning. For example: The picture that has the gilt frame is up for auction. In this example, we're told specifically that it is only the picture with the gilt frame up for auction and presumably no others. The clause "that has the gilt frame" defines which picture is up for auction. Continue reading ➝

Those darn dashes—which to use where?

Which dashes to use where is a subject of much annoyance and confusion to many writers. Most of us know that there are three common kinds of dashes, but how do we know when to use each of them properly? First, there's the hyphen (-). The smallest member of the dash family, it's used primarily for—rather obviously—hyphenation of compound words. If you follow this simple rule, you can't really go wrong. It's also used to separate numbers (such as in a phone number), or to separate letters in a word that is spelled out (H-Y-P-H-E-N). Continue reading ➝
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