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1

One function of adverbs is to modify adjectives, in other words to describe something that already describes something. That alone should give you an idea of how necessary - or unnecessary - they are when used for this purpose.


For example:

  • He drives really fast.
  • She is very happy.
  • We are super glad to be here.


While the above sentences are fine in conversation, in written form they come across as uncreative, maybe even bland. Astute readers view using adverbs as lazy writing, so it's good to avoid them as best you can.


When I catch myself using an adverb to describe an adjective because the adjective doesn't sound right by itself, I try to come up with a more descriptive adjective or an analogy.


For example:

 

Instead of:

  • He drives really fast.

Change to:

  • He drives as if he were on the Autobahn.

Instead of:

  • She is very happy.

Change to::

  • She is ecstatic.


Instead of:

  • We are super glad to be here.

Change to:

  • We are thrilled to be here.


Another way to get around using adverbs is to include a beat (description of an action) that shows the reader what the adverb was meant to convey.


For example:


Instead of:

  • "Do we have to go in there?" Gloria asked nervously.

Change to:

  • Tiny beads of sweat broke out on Gloria's forehead. "Do we have to go in there?" she asked.


Instead of:

  • "It looks like we didn't get the contract," David said glumly.

Change to:

  • David's face fell. "It looks we didn't get the contract."


Do you see the difference? It's not that using adverbs is grammatically wrong, rather that writing that doesn't include a ton of them is more original and engaging. And if your readers find your writing original and engaging, you are doing something right.


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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Use Adverbs Sparingly, Especially in Dialogue

 

The Rhythm of Dialogue

 

 

 

 

1,555 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: help, writing, grammar, adverbs, author_tips, grammar_tip
0

 

Recently an old high school friend asked if I would speak to his brother, Scott, who had written a novel and wasn't sure what path to publication he should pursue. I agreed and had a brief email chat with Scott to set up a time to meet for coffee when I was in town to visit my parents later that month.


Scott had a link to his website in the signature of his email (smart!), so I clicked on it to have a quick look. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found: good writing. The site was just one page and sparse on copy, but what was there was crisp, engaging, and funny. It wasn't a sample from Scott's book, but it was a sample of Scott's writing, and Scott's writing made me want to read Scott's book. See how that works?


I told Scott as much when we met in person, and he was surprised. He hadn't thought of his website copy as a "writing sample." He didn't even think of himself as a real writer because his book hadn't been published. But he is a writer. He wrote a novel, and he should be proud of that, no matter what happens next.


In previous blogs I've recommended putting the first chapter of your book(s) on your website, and I still do. Much like in an ice cream store, offering potential customers a free taste increases the chances they will want more--assuming they like it. But in addition to the first chapter, I encourage you authors out there to think of all the words you put out into the world--be it via your blog or your bio page or your Twitter posts--as writing samples, as chances to capture the interest of potential readers. Getting someone's attention is hard, so why not use all the tools available to you?


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

 

 

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Marketing tip: put your first chapter on your website

 

Marketing tip: tap your network for contacts

 


 

1,905 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, website, help, publishing, writing, social_media, marketing_adivce
2

     It sounds like a stupid question. What purpose do writing rituals serve? Duh. They make you more productive, right? Yes, overall that’s the effect, but the question is why do writing rituals make you more productive? There are a few notable reasons for this;


  1. Comfort: Rituals provide a comfort zone of sorts for writers. They provide a space (both physical and mental) that puts an author at ease. When an author is more at ease, it’s just common sense that he or she will be more productive.
  2. Discipline: Rituals are disciplines in disguise. When you get up at 4:00 a.m. to write because that’s your ritual, you are a disciplined writer. When you write 500 words before you take a break, that’s discipline. When you meditate before you write, that’s discipline.
  3. Strategy: Rituals are building blocks to your overall goal. When you set a goal to write a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days, you probably put a strategy in place to help you reach that goal. That strategy consists of rituals you will follow to hit the 50,000 word mark.
  4. Control: Rituals are your way of controlling the process. When you’re in control, you’re more confident, and you’re more productive.


Rituals make you more productive because they help you focus. They strip you of the stress of having to deal with the unfamiliar. They aren’t for everyone. Some authors use the unfamiliar to help get the creative juices flowing, but many authors like the structure that rituals provide them, and it makes them more productive.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor


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The Rituals of a Writer's Life

Are Writing Rituals Good or Bad?



1,474 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, help, writing, craft, writing_tips, author_tips, author_advice
1

Getting a book review is tough process. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and an incredible degree of professionalism. In short, you have to approach reviewers with your publisher hat on, not your author hat. Be confident about the quality of your book without being a braggart. Most importantly don't do any of the following:

 

1. Comment spamming – This isn't necessarily specific to book reviewers. I'm talking about any comment section anywhere on the Internet. Posting a link to your book about a cat lady turned private detective in the comment section of an unrelated blog or social media post is more than a wasted effort. It damages your author brand. Do not post blindly about your book. It's okay to post about your book in the comment section of various blogs (as long as it doesn't violate the bloggers rules), but do it tastefully and pick your spots carefully. Make sure there's a logical tie-in to your book. Remember, the comment you leave should never be a request for reviews.

 

2. The review challenge – Don't seek out reviewers in the virtual-verse and then challenge them to not like your book. Insisting that it's so good they can't help but like it is most likely setting yourself up for a bad review coming your way. Reviewers are busy, and they don't react well to such gimmicks to get their attention.

 

3. The review plea – Challenging a reviewer to not like your book is only slightly worse than begging a reviewer to read and review your book. When you come off as desperate, you come off as unprofessional and unworthy of any kind of attention for you or your book.

 

Your book is worth reading. You know that, but don't let your frustration get the best of you when a reviewer passes. Doing so could lead you down a path that will put your author brand at risk. Keep calm, and keep writing. The reviews and accolades will come if you commit to your craft and present yourself in a professional manner.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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A Few Indie Book Review Media Sources

Use Good Judgment When Asking for Reviews

4,106 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, reviews, author, help, writers, readers, writing, book_reviews, author_tips, author_advice
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Quick Tip: Conduct an Author Website Audit - All Indie Writers

Is your website working for or against you?  

                           

3 Ways to Pare Down Your Prose - Beyond Paper Editing

Some advice for nonfiction authors.      

 

Film

                                                        

6 Filmmaking Tips from John Cassavetes - Film School Rejects

The art of improvisational filmmaking.    

                                          

How to Generate a Sticky Story Your Audience Will Love - Filmmaking Stuff

Do you know the core of your story? 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Sing - The Definitive Guide - From the Front of the Choir

It all starts with opening your mouth.

 

Studio Headphones: Tips for Best Use - Judy Rodman

Don't forget the value of ambient sound during a recording session.  

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Roundup- August 29, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- August 22, 2014

2,291 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, selling, filmmaking, editing, indie, help, writing, nonfiction, social_networking, social_media, audience, singing, author_website, music_industry, filmmaking_tips, headphones
2

I publish a number of different titles. A few of them are standalone books, but I've also published six titles as part of a linear series. I have been fortunate enough to get a small following of readers that will periodically contact me via email, social media or my blog and very kindly let me know they enjoy the books. I am grateful beyond belief for their support. 

 

 

Some of the readers take their support a step further and give me advice on where they think I should take the story in the next book. It's usually friendly. They'll say things like "It would be so cool if you..." Some of the ideas are quite good and imaginative, and I will take their suggestions to heart, but in the eight years since I published the first book in the series, I have yet to include a reader's suggestion.

I'm not arrogant enough to think my ideas for the story are infallible and sacred. It's just that I find incorporating a reader's idea can lead to "forced" storytelling because it conflicts with my vision as the storyteller. Does that mean I don't care about the readers' input? Not at all. I'm deeply flattered by it, and I'm pleased they've taken such ownership of the story.

 

Crowdsourcing a story can be a wonderful way to connect with readers. I applaud any author who can demonstrate the skill to gather input from readers and weave it into his or her work. However, as an author, you should never feel pressured to include readers' ideas for a future book. It's tempting to do because it will please the readers and ignite their passion for the book. There's a greater potential they'll become advocates for your brand as well. It seems like a win-win, but if the suggestions conflict with your vision, don't do it. Put the story first. All of your readers will be better off for it. 

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Make It Easy for Readers to Find You

Keep Them Guessing to Keep Them Reading

3,811 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, indie, help, writers, readers, publishing, fans, craft
0

Michael Crichton once famously said that "Books aren't written, they're rewritten." Never a truer word has been spoken. The problem is that too many beginning authors think that rewriting simply means cleaning up prose and knocking out typos. Rewriting is more or less re-engineering the story. You may find that paragraphs, pages, or chapters simply don't work, or they would work better somewhere else in the story. You may find a particular character that threads through your entire story doesn't work, and you have to get rid of him or her. In short, rewriting should be a process of destroying and rebuilding what you've written.

 

In my mind, the number one thing you want to be on the lookout for when rewriting is redundancy. I'm not just talking about repeating passages or phrases; I'm talking about two different characters that may be too similar to one another, or even scenes that have striking similarities. Writing a book takes a lot of time. Many, many days pass from the moment you type the first word to the time you type "The End," and you may unknowingly repeat yourself in some form or fashion.

 

I am certainly guilty of redundancy. I tend to focus a lot of action and character development on meals. That's great, as long as it's not overdone. If it happens over and over again in my book, it says more about me as the author than it does the actual characters in the book. When I rewrite, that's one of the things I look out for. Have I used food as a catalyst too much? If the answer is yes, I change the scene to balance it out.

 

Be brutal on yourself during rewrites. Tear the story down now so readers won't do it after it's published.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Use the Chunking Method to Write Your Book

The First-Line Ritual

1,552 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, help, writers, rewriting
0

"Show it. Don't say it." It is the most confusing bit of direction I have ever received as a writer. I don't even think the person who gave me the advice fully understood it at the time. It is something that reviewers or editors seem to float out there when they don't really know what else to say.

 

As a young writer, I was desperate to understand the concept because the more I studied writing, the more the advice appeared. Every writer of note talked incessantly about the importance of showing it and not saying it. This may sound ridiculous, but I couldn't get past the idea that the simple act of writing was technically "saying it." How can you write it and not say it?

 

Frustrated beyond belief, I picked up To Kill a Mockingbird and almost absent mindedly started reading. It is one of my favorite books, and I find that just holding a copy soothes my writer's soul. To me, there is no better writer than Harper Lee. So I read to relax and didn't really expect to find what I found. On page 306, there it was - the perfect example of "Show it. Don't say it." It was cleverly disguised as dialogue, which I thought was a no-no in the "Show it. Don't say it." philosophy of writing. But there it was, clear as day, the answer to my quest to uncover the mystery of "Show it. Don't say it."

 

The line, delivered by Reverend Sykes, is: "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'." Lee didn't need to have Sykes say anything more. From that line you know the reverence and appreciation and love Reverend Sykes felt for Scout's father. If Lee had elaborated on the line, it would have lost its power. The emotion of the moment would have been destroyed. She showed it without saying it. The setup was there: a long, drawn-out trial, where Atticus (Scout's father) fought to keep a man from unjustly going to jail; the accused man's supporters sitting in the balcony throughout the trial, putting all their faith in Atticus; and in the end, Atticus losing the case. He was defeated, but Reverend Sykes and his followers still loved him because he had given his all. By the reverend's simple insistence that Scout stand up for her father, we know exactly what he and his congregation feel for Atticus.

 

So, I say to you now, I can comfortably pass on the advice since I've seen it in action: "Show it. Don't say it."

 

-Richard

Richard is an award-winning author and regular CreateSpace contributor.

2,213 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, book, new, self-publishing, help, writers, publishing, writing, craft
1

I have a secret that I have to get off my chest. I decide on a final word count for a manuscript before I write the first page. It's a habit I picked up when I started out writing screenplays. I read a book on screenwriting and discovered that a good page count for a screenplay was in the neighborhood of ninety pages. I decided then and there that every screenplay I would write would be ninety pages long. It was strangely liberating. The structure of the story fell into place. The pacing became a natural result of the limitations I put on myself. While I rarely wrote "Fade to Black" on exactly page ninety, I was usually within a page or two.

 

When I shifted to novels, I made the decision to free myself and just write without worrying about what the final page count would be. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote... and I wrote until I had a jumbled mess that was thin on a main plot and replete with subplots that added nothing to the story. I had written myself into a corner surrounded by over one hundred thousand unusable words.

 

I had to face the facts. I needed rules to set me free as a writer. I needed to know my stopping point before I started writing. This technique had worked for me with screenplays. I was convinced it would work for me with novels as well. I set a word count, and it worked. For some reason, I immediately understood the structure of the story, and once again the pace just came naturally. I stopped meandering off into countless and pointless subplots that I thought were great character-building devices. I rarely hit the word count exactly, but I'm usually within one to two thousand words.

 

It's a strange thing to say, but creativity seems to thrive under restrictions. It's a challenge to write within a set of rules. If you're working on a manuscript that has gone off track, assign yourself a final word count for your book. See if setting a stopping point helps you find your way back on track. Challenge your creativity with this one constraint, and I think you'll find that your creativity will respond.

 

CreateSpaceRichard

Richard is an employee of CreateSpace and an award-winning author.

2,107 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, self-publishing, help, publishing, writing


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