Editing Like a Badass: Be Concise

You are editing and feel like your manuscript is lacking, but you not sure what to do, what to add and what to cut out.

There is no secret that some of the paragraphs that you’ve written are cumbersome and useless, and you agree on that. But what about those that don’t stand out? They are there but don’t add anything to the story.

So let’s talk about the conciseness of your story.

Kill your darling

When editing ask yourself, does this scene adds anything to the story? Is there something mentioned that is advancing the plot? Or is it just a filler scene you like so much?

As you can guess, the last one needs to get out of the story, no matter how much you like it.

Avoid Repetitive Phrases

You don’t need to tell the same thing twice or thrice. Use variety in your sentences. Cut the phrases that describe the same action.

I didn’t need three of those to get the point across. So don’t you!

Cut the filler words

There, here, it cut them out, you don’t need them. Your writing will only be weaker with them.

There were three soldiers standing next to the gate.
Three soldiers guarded the gate.

Avoid long sentences

No need to tell all the action of the scene in one long sentence. It will bore the reader and make him/her confused.

Cut useless details and description from it. And if there is none, just divide it in a few different ones.

When there is some action happening, you need your reader to feel it. Short, fast sentences will get your reader on edge. And even better if you can combine sentences of different lengths.

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The Edge of Reason, Damien Concordel

A 4*

I got a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions included in this review are my own and are in no way affected by the exchange.

The Edge of Reason is a collection of short stories, some of them linked between each other.

There were some stories I liked, others I didn’t, but it was a matter of my personal taste and not the quality of the writing.

The writing is compelling and interesting. The characters appealing and profound, even if we see them for a few pages.

I read the book on the plane and The Return of Malaysia Flight 370 made me shift in my seat, thoughts of plane catastrophes rushing through my mind. I find it beautiful the way Damien Concordel decided to commemorate the victims.

There were a few stories where the writing seemed a little bit off and the quality of the stories were not as good. I am not sure what didn’t work for me in them, but they were a bit of a drag to read.

Overall it was a good read. Each of the stories has its unique flavour making it a good journey.

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Christmas Giveaway Winners

Awesome bookmarks by @irenadams

The winners of this year’s Christmas giveaway are the following:

1st prize (On Writing, by Stephen King and a pack of bookmarks) – Gabriel Andronica ( @AndronicaGabri1 )

2nd prize (a flowery notepad, a cute pen and a pack of bookmarks) – Taryn The Dragon

3rd prize (a flowery notepad and a pack of bookmarks) – athousandbitsofpaper

4th prize (a pack of bookmarks) – laurabooksandblogs (@lsmith335)

5th prize (a pack of bookmarks) – @InkySilenceRecs

Contact me with your address, so I can send it to you.

And stay tuned for the new content and other giveaways!

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Writing Compelling Stories: Show Don’t Tell


Let’s talk about something that every writer had heard a thousand times, but not always followed the advice right away.

Yes, we are going to talk about the famous statement “Show don’t tell“.

All of us sin sometimes and make a sentence that doesn’t show the scene to the reader. The reader will inevitably glide over it, but won’t remember anything about it.

Here are some examples:

Sam was shocked by Ron’s statement.
After Ron’s words had reached Sam’s ears, she widened her eyes and gasped.

Lila started crying and tried to hide it.
Tears wielding in her eyes, Lila turned away. Let them think she was disgusted rather than crying.

There is no other way to say it. Making your scenes more vivid will appeal to the reader and make them feel powerful emotions for your protagonists.

The reader will know Sam is shocked because you’ve shown it to them. They will know Lila was ashamed to be crying in front of others because she turned away.

When writing a scene you don’t need to tell what you saw your character do. You have to create the same image you saw in the mind of your reader.

You will not achieve it if you state the actions. The reader needs to half-guess, half-see.

Your story has to start in your mind and end in the mind of your reader. And there is no other way to do that, but by showing it to them.

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How to Be a Bawse, Lilly Singh

A 4*

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“Words lie; actions can lie too. Consistency speaks the truth.”

This book is written by Lilly Singh or most widely known as a YouTuber called Superwoman.

Lilly Singh as of today has almost 15 million subscribers. I’ve seen some of her videos, I liked a few of them, some made me laugh, but I am not an avid fan of hers. But, I think you can’t get as far as she did without learning a few tricks of the trade.

How to be a Bawse is a bit of a memoir wrapped into the self-help book. You will learn about Lilly Singh and her road to where she is now.

This book gives interesting information to the inside of the entertainment business, mostly YouTube. But I would imagine that it is almost the same thing in all other branches, only the content you try to diffuse changes.

The read is quick and simple. And in the audio format, it is Lilly Singh who will tell you the story. Which makes it more exciting for the fans of hers.

It is full of interesting and personal intake, but it is also real and straight.

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Editing Like a Badass: Do You Really Need All These Words?

Here comes another post about some things you should check out when you are in a full editing session.

Do you think you need all those words in your manuscript? Well, you don’t.

These words will burden your writing but don’t add anything of interest to it.

Start to

Helena ducked under the blade and tears started to glide down her cheeks.
Helena ducked under the blade, tears gliding down her cheeks.

Which one is more powerful in a sentence? Yeah, the second one.

The character didn’t start to run towards the enemy. He ran towards it his sword unleashed.

Show the action without any useless words.

That

Okay, this one is tricky. Sometimes it is needed but not always. And whenever it is possible you should drop it

Sarah knew that he would kill her.

Do you need that that? No!

Sarah knew he would kill her.

And don’t forget there is no need in the coma before that, only before which.

In order to

Let’s say Steven needed to get the talisman in order to complete the ritual.

But you are putting more words before the real action. And while we are at it, let’s drop the to get too.

Steven needed the talisman to complete the ritual.

Same meaning, fewer words.

Very

First, it is not needed and cumbers your writing. Second, if you want to infuse more meaning into your sentence, replace it with a more powerful adjective.

Very funny? Use hilarious.
Very scared? Petrified.
Very skinny? Skeletal.
Very wet? Soaked.

Check 147 Words to Use Instead of “Very” for an extensive list.

Really

It is used either as very, so really mean would be cruel. Or as a redundant word in a sentence.

She really wanted to shoot him.

And you don’t need it there. So drop it.

She wanted to shoot him.

And last but not least, the redundancies

You don’t need the exact same thing said twice in the sentence.

Have you noticed it? The redundancy in the previous sentence? The exact same thing

Here are some other examples:
Each and every time
Fall down
Climb up
Gather together

Check Common Redundancies in the English Language to see an exhaustive list.

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Chronicles of Yarrowind: The Age of Change

Prologue

“How did you know this would happen?” the man asked.
“I do not have time to sit idly and answer your questions.”
“The Kings authorized this procedure. They want to know what happened.”
The woman clad in white laughed, her eyes twinkling in the candlelight.
“And why do you think it matters to me what the so-called Kings do or want?”
“You promised to help,” the man answered.
“I promised my help only to one being…”
“And that person asked you to do this.”
“Fine… But you know the legends. You can guess how I knew.”
The man fumbled with the pile of parchments stacked on his desk.
“Is this a fair description of the events?” the man asked, sliding one of the parchments across the desk.
The woman took it in her hands and started to read.


The creature opened its eyes and looked around. For ages, it had enjoyed the dreamless sleep.
It wanted nothing more than to close its eyes and embrace the slumber.
But something must have happened to wake it up. It stood on all fours and shook its head.
The air was charged with energy. Dark energy. The strings of time and existence were thinning. The canvas of reality was in danger of being destroyed.
A loud roar escaped the creature’s mouth. But no answer came. Its brothers and sisters were asleep. It was the first one to feel the change coming. The only one who could do anything about it.
But it had to be sure. The creature had to visit the place it left ages ago.
The view in front of it shifted and in tiny patches. The reality regrouped itself to form a new one, from another distant world.
The Halls of Obliteration stood untouched by the ages that had passed. But the place was no longer dead.
The energy pulsed through the ground, the walls, even the air itself. It came in waves from one of the statues sitting at the end of the hall.
Measuring each step, the creature walked to the statue of an ancient God. Dark energy was coming from the seated figure. All black and cloaked, its features hidden from view, the God was starting to awaken too.
“You will not be able to change my destiny!” a scream erupted in the creature’s head.
It bowed its head and closed its eyes, a growl of anger and pain coming from its throat.
The creature shook its head and turned to walk away, but a cloud of smoke appeared in the air. Shifting, a deformed face looked the creature in the eyes.
“You were such a wonderful pet once. And you will be again! If you don’t want to die when my restraints shall fall,” it whispered through clenched teeth. “You are still afraid of death… Are you not?”
“If you get what you so desire, there will be no way of stopping my death. I know that now. Your tricks once scared me… But not anymore! Someday you will perish, and I will be there to see it happen.”
The smoke shifted, lips pursed, the face observed the creature.
“In that stupid head of yours, don’t you see any possibility of my victory?!”
No answer came from the creature’s lips. Not only one outcome led to the Dark God’s victory… Thousands of possibilities, endless options, all rushing through its head. And they all lead to the same thing. War, chaos, and destruction.
But something caught its omniscient eye. Blue eyes and gray hair. A woman stood amidst the fire.
A croak, resembling a chuckle escaped the creature’s lips.
A cry of a newborn baby came to its ears. A special being was born. A chance had been given to the creature. A tiny one but still a chance.
A cracking sound filled the hall. The creature bent its neck and twisted its body, its limbs shortening. And in a few moments, a woman clad in white stood watching in the dead eyes of the face of smoke.
“Farewell,” she said, walking past the face that still waited for an answer. “Or better not.”
A scream shook the walls and was the only answer. But the woman was already entering a portal she had opened.
She had to see the child. She had to know for sure she wasn’t making a mistake. And if she was right, she had to make some preparations.


The woman put the parchment back on the table and pursed her lips.
“So, what do you think?” the man asked, leaning forward.
“Stories… Nothing more.”
“Are you sure?”
“But so many stories are true…” the woman looked at the man with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“Was your premonition wrong?”
“It is never wrong…”

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Werewolf Nights, Mari Hamill

A 3*

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

A 3*

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

I bought this book from a fellow writer on twitter.

Who doesn’t want to get an interesting read full of werewolves and little town love story? I certainly do. And this book offered this and more.

There is no new image of werewolf, it is pretty down to the base, full-moon monster kind of werewolf. But in any case, the story is interesting and captivating. There is a little bit of intrigue that builds up from about the middle of the book. And the suspense is kept until the end, even though it is easy to guess who is who.

One of the bad points of this book is how easy it goes on the description. Each chapter you will be updated on who wears what and what the place looks like to the minimal detail. It is so much easier just to skip through all this to get to the story.

Another thing that you will not appreciate too much is the characters. On one hand, they are too perfect, or too imperfect in the case of the antagonist. They do not seem real. All the protagonists are success stories.

Well, except for Cat. But, she is annoying in her own way. I mean, I get it, we all like a guy who wouldn’t do anything freaky. But from there, to repeat “That guy needs to learn manners” on every romantic encounter Cat goes through… It made me cringe.

And also, for a character that keeps telling, after a divorce and a man who disappeared, that she needs to wait before trusting another man, I guarantee you, you will be surprised how easily she will open her heart to Charles.

It is a fun read, but you will need to skim through at least a third part of it.

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Invasive Species, Karle Johnson

A 1*

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

I got a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions included in this review are my own and are in no way affected by the exchange.

I didn’t finish this book.

I abandoned it at 20% and half of it I needed to skim through.

There is just too much DESCRIPTION!

It is tedious, it is long, it is annoying.

On the first 5 pages of the book, you will meet a guard who will then proceed to explain all the family tree of his boss, the owner of the ranch where the guard is working. And let me tell you, this was the first warning bell.

There is action, don’t take me wrong. But it doesn’t feel like it… Because the guard sees the monster, wolf, thing, whatever and it takes him another 5 pages to start running for his life.

The bits of conversations that take place at the beginning of this book don’t seem natural, because there are full descriptions of the life of the characters between the spoken lines.

“Show! Don’t tell!” I wanted to scream.

I must say this is a an example of omniscient 3rd person POV gone wrong… Very wrong.

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Editing Like a Badass: Common Mistakes

No book that you have ever read was the first draft. Not even the second… Nor the third and most probably not even the fourth.

As an amateur writer myself, I must say I will never reach the point where I will be completely satisfied with my manuscript. But I learned a few tricks along the way.

But if you think you did all you could and you don’t know what else is there to correct here are some tips.

Grammar

Let’s start with basics… Have you passed your manuscript through a spell and grammar checker?

Good, but not all of them can detect incorrect verb tenses.

Reading and re-reading your manuscript one word at a time is the best way to pick up on those.

Adverbs

Have you checked all you -ly words in your manuscript? Do you really need them? Is there a way you can say it in other words that would add more color to the story?

But…

Do treat yourself sometimes to a useless adverb. One or two in an 80.000 words manuscript is not that bad.

Needless Punctuation

Does your sentence have a semi-colon, five comas, and a few parentheses?

It really shouldn’t.

I recently read a book, where there were parentheses on every page and then some and it was so annoying. If you are writing a dissertation then it is okay. But if you are writing fiction try to omit over-complicated sentences. Your reader will appreciate it.

Misuse of Punctuation

Check the rules if you are in doubt, but sometimes the coma should be there and sometimes not.

‘She will lead the army if the generals stand by her side.’

‘If the generals stand by her side, she will lead the army.’

I will not talk about oxford coma in here, but if you like to use, then do so.

The passive voice

It is much better to say ‘the King gave her a chance to redeem herself’ rather than ‘she had been given a chance to redeem herself’.

Make things happen in real-time in your manuscript!

Dialog tags

“You need to help me…” she whispered.
“Why should I?!” he cried.
“I will die if you won’t,” she said.
“That is not my problem,” he answered.

Do you need all these dialog tags? The answer is no.

If there are only two participants in your dialog, there is no need to mention the person speaking after each reply.

The punctuation in itself will help the reader to understand that when the man answers “Why should I?!” he shouted, screamed or cried out.

And please, avoid using overcomplicated and unnecessary verbs in dialog tags. If you need to address the thesaurus each time, you write a dialog tag then you know what I am talking about.

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