Here are my top fifty easy tips you should keep in mind as you write your next page-turning bestseller:
TIP #1. Remember you're writing from your character's POV. No need for "he/she thought."
TIP #2. Don't add a comma before the word "too" at the end of a sentence.
TIP #3. Blond is an adjective to describe a person. Blonde is a noun.
TIP #4. Don't do an information dump all at once about a character. Spread it out and share it through dialogue if possible.
TIP #5. Try not to use "it", "that" or "this" excessively. Describe what "it" is.
TIP #6. Go ahead and use contractions. It sounds better.
TIP #7. When in a character's POV, that character shouldn't describe himself/herself.
TIP #8. Don't over use dashes and don't put a space before or after it.
TIP #9. Try not to start paragraphs with time. For example: The next day... That is telling not showing.
TIP #10. Use only one space after punctuation. If you learned like me to add two spaces, do a "find and replace" when you are done with the book.
TIP #11. Use ellipses to show hesitation or omitted words. For example: "You... you don't mean he...?"
TIP #12. Use an em dash to indicate interruption in dialogue. For example: "I'm going to-"
TIP #13. Use a dash for stammering. For example: "I-I-I didn't know you were here."
TIP #14. Don't use weak words. For example: Her eyes were "really pretty." Instead say: Her eyes sparkled an emerald green. In the first example, you are also telling rather than showing.
TIP #15. Break up really long sentences and paragraphs for easy readability.
TIP #16. Avoid "ly" words, but you don't have to eliminate them entirely.
TIP #17. If you are writing in Third Person and in a character's POV, don't suddenly change and become omniscient. Example: She picked up the letter opener. She didn't know that David had used it kill his brother.
TIP #18. Write in an active voice as if story is currently happening. Backstory can be added, but make sure dialogue and actions are showing and not telling.
TIP #19. Don't head-hop during a scene. If you need to describe how the other person feels, reconsider writing from their POV or start the next scene with their POV.
TIP #20. Use strong words. Try to avoid: sort of, a lot, seemed, slightly, almost, etc. Be definite.
TIP #21. Vary your words so you don't keep repeating the same word or phrase.
TIP #22. Make sure your sentences make sense. For example: While he kissed her, he lit a match. Very hard to do both at the same time. Instead write: He kissed her, and then he lit a match.
TIP #23. Be careful of words you use instead of "said". For example: "Don't do that," he grimaced. You can't grimace words. Instead say: "Don't do that," he said, grimacing.
TIP #24. Search your document for the word "that" and make sure you've used it correctly. You might need to substitute with "which" or "who" or eliminate the word all together.
TIP #25. Try to use other more defining words besides "walked" or "ran." For example: ambled, darted, paced, moseyed, scurried, sprinted, marched, etc.
TIP #26. Try to eliminate unnecessary words and keep sentences simple and direct. Don't use flowery sentences.
TIP #27. Put notes, emails, newspaper articles, journal entries, letters or diary entries within your manuscript in italics.
TIP #28. Spell out words and avoid abbreviations. If you do use them, spell out the title in the first reference and then use the initials. Example: Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI.
TIP #29. Italicize sounds and foreign words.
TIP #30. Be careful with dialogue tags to make sure the action tag refers to the person saying the dialogue. Two characters should never speak in same paragraph.
TIP #31. Use more than one of the senses to describe a scene, not just sight.
TIP #32. Even though your manuscript is fiction, make sure your facts are accurate.
TIP #33. Each main character needs at least one internal goal and one external goal.
TIP #34. Each main character needs a long-term goal as well as short-term goals.
TIP #35. For romance, the hero and heroine need some type of relationship conflict as to why they can't be together.
TIP #36. By the end of the book, your main characters should come to some kind of epiphany.
TIP #37. Conflict is what drives your book and makes a reader keep turning pages.
TIP #38. Know all about your characters and their background, even if you don't include all of it in your book. The character's baggage is what drives them to make the decisions they do.
TIP #39. Remember that all characters have secrets.
TIP #40. Emotion is at the heart of a good book and you must clearly give your characters emotions and explain the reasons for those emotions.
TIP #41. Know exactly what is at stake for your character and what they're willing to do or not do if a situation arises. For example: Would your heroine really shoot a gun? Why or why not. You need to know what motives her to do one or the other. It will usually be something related to a past experience.
TIP #42. Increase the intensity of the character's situation as the plot thickens-whether by their reaction to the event or the severity of the situation.
TIP #43. Your antagonist needs strong goals and motivations. Explain them.
TIP #44. If you have a character that isn't particularly likeable, give him/her a strong, important goal so that the reader can sympathize.
TIP #45. As the author, keep dangers high on your list of goals. This includes physical danger, psychological danger, or emotional danger. Use a combination. Keep time of the essence for your characters.
TIP #46. Know your five W's for every scene you write.
TIP #47. Write each scene from the character's POV who has the most at stake to lose.
TIP #48. Write your query in the same voice as your book. For example: humor - funny. This lets the publisher/agent know you can write from that angle.
TIP #49. Come up with a tight blurb that defines each main character in one or two words that are pertinent to the book and uses the same voice as the book.
TIP #50. Start promoting before you've sold. Be prepared and ready for when it all hits.
Good luck with your writing!
Cindy A. Christiansen
Multi-publisihed Sweet Romance Author
Sweet Romance, Comedy, Suspense... and Dogs!
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