Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WIP Blog Tour...Tagged by Nicki Elson!

I was tagged by the lovely Nicki Elson for the WIP Blog Tour.  And since it's been a bit since I last posted anything about my writing, I figured this was as a good time as any to let you guys know a bit about Fate's Awakening, my WIP.  Also, in case you don't know, WIP stands for "work in progress".  Yes, I still count FA as a WIP, because it's not published, and, in fact, is being critiqued mercilessly by Shelley Greene at this time.


The rules of the to:

1)  Link back to the person who tagged you.  That would be Nicki Elson, so check out her blog here.

Okay, so far so good.

2)  Write a little about and give the first sentences of the first 3 chapters of a WIP.

Here's the blurb I've tentatively settled on for Fate's Awakening.

Jack Harris's reluctance to find The One has put his life in danger with the Fates. They send a young goddess to convince Jack that he needs to search his heart or he's going to lose his only chance at happiness. After the goddess gives him less than a month to get his act together, Jack realizes that his soul mate is his long-time roommate and best friend, Andrew Kelly. Problem is, Andy's in a relationship with a woman, and Jack can't quite figure out where they stand. Will the goddess's divine intervention be enough to help Jack? Or will the Fates have to cut the tangled thread of his life when the deadline comes?

Intrigued? I hope so.

And here are the first sentences from the first 3 chapters of Fate's Awakening...four, actually, because I did a prologue. So you guys get a bonus sentence! Woo hoo!

Prologue:  "The Three have requested your immediate presence."

Chapter 1:  "Your place or mine?"

Chapter 2:  Insistent banging roused me from a deep sleep.

Chapter 3:  Just after eight-thirty, my cab pulled up in front of the bar.

And finally, rule 3:  Tag 4 more writers to see what they're up to!

Shelley Greene

Jennifer DeLucy

Debra Anastasia


Rumer Haven

I can't wait to see what they're up to!

xoxo Sarah

Monday, October 27, 2014

Auction ends tonight!

Hey, ladies and gents!  There's an auction going on right now to help support the Maryland Romance Writers, and there are some great things up for grabs.  Anything from signed books to gift baskets to knitwear to critiques to a tutorial on Scrivener writing software. 

The auction ends TONIGHT at 9PM EDT, so get your bids in before it's too late!


xoxo Sarah

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tips for Editing Your Manuscript from a Real-Life Editor, Part 7

Part 1: Look it up!

Part 2:  Read it out loud.

Part 3:  Have someone who knows what they're doing read it.

Part 4:  Consistency, consistency, consistency!

Part 5:  Dialogue tag...you're NOT it!

Part 6: Pick the right word to say what you mean.

This is part 7: Adverbs--Kill it with fire! 

Or, as Stephen King says in On Writing: "The road to hell is paved with adverbs."

Apply adverbs here...

That might sound like a little extreme, but trust me, adverbs are not your friend. What's an adverb? It's basically the equivalent of what an adjective is to a noun, but it's a word that describes or modifies another adverb, adjective or, most commonly, a verb--how something is done. Often--but not always--they end in "ly".

He walked slowly.  How did he walk? Slowly.

She talked quietly.  How did she talk? Quietly.

You get the idea.

So what's the problem with adverbs? Description is good, right? And I'm always on everyone about showing, not telling (*maniacal laughter* You just wait...there'll be an entry in this series on that too, I can guarantee it).

The problem with adverbs is that there's almost always a better word to use that makes your narrative stronger. See all those words in bold and italics? I even went overboard with the emphasis so you guys would know I'm serious.

And since I'm so big on showing, not telling, I'm gonna show you.  Read the following two narrative paragraphs, and pick the stronger one...

Kylie quietly walked through the house. She'd waited patiently all day for her family to leave. Now, Kylie finally had the computer all to herself. She firmly pressed the button and switched it on, fidgeting excitedly as it slowly booted. The web browser opened suddenly, and Kylie meticulously poked in the address. Yay! Kylie thought happily. Now I can immediately watch my favorite cat videos!

Kylie tip-toed through the house. She'd waited all day for her family to leave. Now, Kylie had the computer all to herself. She pressed the button and switched it on, fidgeting as it booted. The web browser opened, and Kylie poked in the address. Yay! Kylie thought. Now I can watch my favorite cat videos!

The second one is stronger, more direct, and clearer, and that's with only changing one of the adverbs (quietly walked to tip-toed) and just deleting the others. Even better would be to find ways of showing even more using other, stronger, words.

Here's what I mean by that:

Said quietly becomes whispered.

Walked slowly becomes strolled.

By using a single word (or a short phrase) in place of the adverb, it provides a more direct description of what's happening and makes it clearer to the reader.

This post with a giant quote from Stephen King's On Writing, where he talks dandelions in your word-garden and closing the door firmly, takes the cake. Go read it. I'll be watching Nyan Cat until you're done...


Back already? Good.

Oh, and like the awesome Mr. King says, for the love of Jesus on a Velociraptor, please don't use them with dialogue tags. For 99% of the time, let the dialogue communicate how someone says something. For the other 1%...well, I guess I can let it slide.

"Fine, Mom, but as soon as I'm done cleaning my room, I'm gonna watch cat videos again," Kylie said dully.

See what I did there? I crossed out the adverb. Why? Because you don't need it. It's clear from the dialogue that Kylie is whining (you could, in theory, use "whined" as the dialogue tag instead of "said", but, again, it's not necessary--her tone is already clear to the reader, and readers aren't stupid).

There are ways around using them, too. Is it recommended? Well, that probably depends on what you're trying to accomplish with the description...

"Of course you'd want to watch cat videos instead of eating pizza with me," Jen said scathingly.

"Of course you'd want to watch cat videos instead of eating pizza with me," Jen snapped.

Is it easy to tell from the dialogue that the words are said "scathingly"? Maybe, maybe not. But in cases like this, it'd be your call whether to use an adverb or not. Better yet, change "said" to "snapped" or something like I did. It's not one of those dialogue tags that's too "out there", and it effectively communicates what you're trying to get across about how Jen is saying something.

Let me also say that I'm a huge fan of adverbs...in a first draft. Mine are littered with them. But, because this is an editing how-to tip post thingy, I feel I should emphasize that I try my best to catch them and weed them out (haha, get it? Weed them out? Like dandelions? You'd get it if you read the Stephen King bit above...), replacing the adverbs with stronger language or taking them out completely. So feel free to let your first-draft garden get a bit overgrown...you'll be taking some Round-Up to it when the second draft comes along.

Are you guys finding these posts useful? What are your thoughts on adverbs? Please let me know in the comments. :-)

xoxo Sarah