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638 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag
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Here are three ways to develop airtight plots for your next novel:


1. The ending comes first: We've discussed this before on this blog. Writing the ending first is an excellent way to stay focused on your destination. If you know where you're going, you're going to be able to map out a more concise and cohesive journey to that ending. Knowing the destination of your story beforehand will inform every aspect leading up to it.


2. Detailed outline: I once wrote a 120-page outline for a 330-page novel. I made the somewhat unique decision to pick the number of chapters that would make up the book, and I simply sketched out each chapter, connecting the dots along the way. I decided on the number of chapters based on what was typical of the genre at the time. When it came time to write the novel, I had a reason for every decision I made, and if something needed tweaking along the way, it was easy to do because I knew so much about the story and characters before I started the first draft, which, with the exception of a few minor changes, was essentially my final draft.


3. Detailed timeline: Plots don't always follow a straight path. A great example of this is a film titled Momento. It follows the story of a man who can't retain any memories, and each new day requires him to relearn things he had known before with the hope of finally getting to the end of the mystery. It's told in a seemingly disjointed jumble of repeated scenes, but in reality, it's an ingenious example of a plot that develops out of the normal "B" follows "A" storytelling method. The only way this can be achieved is to map out the disorienting timeline before you start writing because as disjointed as it may seem, the reader (in the case of a novel) has to have a revelation that you had a plan going in. You didn't just throw things together. You knew exactly what you were doing the whole time.


-Richard

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


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Fix It in Rewrites

Keeping a Consistent Tone

723 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, story_plots
2

I was recently playing around with my Goodreads profile to update it with my latest novel when I saw an "add preview" option underneath each of my books. I don't know if this is a new feature or one I simply never noticed, but I quickly took advantage of it! Here's how it works:


  1. When you log into Goodreads.com, on the top right corner of the home page you will see your photo. (If you don't have a Goodreads profile, make one now!)
  2. If you click on your photo, the drop-down menu will include "author dashboard."
  3. Go into your author dashboard, and you will see your book(s), the number of reviews, etc.
  4. Underneath each title you will see the "add preview" option.
  5. Click on the "add preview" button and follow the instructions to upload a sample. (What you upload is up to you. For my books I chose the prologue, or the first chapter if there is no prologue.)


That's it! Now when people visit my profile page or come across the detail page of any of my books, they will be able to open a sample chapter just by clicking on a button that says "preview."


Here's what the detail page for my newest book looks like.


Here's what the sample looks like.


Isn't that cool? Just like giving free tastes at an ice cream shop, offering readers a free glimpse of your writing is a great way to draw them in. If they enjoy the sample, chances are they're going to want to keep reading and will be willing to pay to do it. That translates into a sale for you, as well as a potential new fan!


-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

Promote your book with Goodreads

 

 

 

930 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, goodreads, promotions
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Last lines

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 17, 2017


John Irving is famous for writing the last line of his books first. When you think about it, it's not a bad strategy. He's knows where the story is going before he even begins. He just has to figure out how to get there, he doesn't have to figure out where to go. I would think that would make for a much more "efficient" writing experience, and it gives him a leg up on the most elusive element of a novel, a satisfying ending.


How an ending is deemed satisfying depends on a lot of things. What genre is your book? If it's a mystery, ending the book without solving the mystery is going to leave your readers angry and unsatisfied. Is it a romance novel? Your main character should be enriched and empowered at the end of your story otherwise the readers are going to feel robbed of the essence of romance. With thrillers you have room to taunt and tease your readers a little at the end, but you still want a definitive conclusion to the story.  If the book is part of a series, you'll want an ending the signals there is more to come.


We've discussed the importance of first lines on this blog. While the first sentence sets the tone of your book, the last line provides the final payoff, the reward for the reader's investment of time and emotions. You write an ending that satisfies the reader, and you have a new member of your community who will enthusiastically tell their friends, family, and followers about your book.


-Richard

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


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The end


What matters more: the beginning or the ending?

543 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, last_lines
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When people find out I'm an author, one of the questions they often ask me is, "What inspires you to write?" It's an interesting question because I think every author would answer it differently.


I find myself most inspired to write when I'm already writing. That probably sounds crazy, but getting myself to write is the hardest part of writing. The creative process is a complex animal, and if I could tame it, I would be a lot more productive than I am.Butwhen I sit down at my computer and focus, really focus, then things start to happen. Soon I'm in the groove and don't want to stop because I'm having fun. I guess it's similar to a runner's high. Getting yourself to lace up those shoes and hit the pavement can be challenging, but there's a reason so many people do it day in and day out: after you get past the resistance, exercising feels great.


This is a little embarrassing to admit, but when I write a line that makes me laugh, or finish a scene I know is good, I'll pump my fist! Just writing that now makes me blush because it's ridiculous, but it's true. I love that feeling of having created something I think my readers will enjoy, of having created characters and stories that are entirely made up but seem real. That inspires me.


In this blog I usually provide tips on writing, grammar, or book marketing. But today I thought it would be fun to turn the tables and ask my readers to chime in with their own thoughts. What inspires you to write? Please reply in the comments. I'd truly love to hear from 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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Two Mistakes Indie Authors Should Avoid

Got Writer's Block? Step Away from the Keyboard

548 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, inspiration
2

Opening lines

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 10, 2017

Why is the opening line of your book so crucial? After all, it's just one line out of thousands in your book. Yet, it is a singularly seminal collection of words that could make or break your novel. One misstep, and you could chase readers away.


Here are three reasons I think the opening line matters so much to your book:


1. It sets the tone of your story. Whether you go for a simple, gritty line or you deliver dense prose in your opening sentence, you signal to the reader what kind of reading experience they are in for. My personal belief is that a reader should be able to identify the genre of your book from the first line.


2. It gives a hint to your writing style. Readers are going to get an innate sense of your writing style from your opening line. They are going to either feel the connection to your literary approach, or they are going to move on to another selection.


3. The opening line signals whether your story's framework is built around character development or plot development. In Alice Walker's novel, The Color Purple, she opens the story with, "You better not never tell nobody but God." That line signals to me that I'm about to enjoy a book that is centered around character development.


What about you? Why do you think the opening line can make or break a novel? What are some of your favorite opening lines?


-Richard

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


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The First-Line Ritual

The Art of the First Line

766 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, opening_line, setting_the_tone
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As a reader, I have given up on more than a few books in my time. As a writer, I feel bad for doing so, too. It just feels wrong. But in the end, I can't take responsibility for not feeling engaged enough to continue reading. It's not necessarily bad writing. It's just not compelling writing. I'm not talking obscure tomes either. Some of these books have been international bestsellers. Adored by millions. Yet, there the book sat on my nightstand unfinished.


As a writer, I like to interrogate myself for not finishing a book. Not because I have self-esteem issues (I do), but because I want to avoid the same mistakes in my own writing. That's the lesson here. We can learn from books we don't like as much as books we do like, although it's a decidedly less inspiring lesson.


What I have found, more times than not, is that I am almost always turned off by poorly written dialogue. Most of the books I abandon are full of either unnaturally long monologues or ham-fisted attempts at including slang used by a much younger generation than the author. It not only doesn't hit the mark, it can cause me to giggle involuntarily at the absurdity of it.


That's usually why I give up on a book, and it's made me much more aware when I'm crafting my own dialogue. What about you? As a reader, what causes you to give up on a book?


-Richard

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


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Read It Forward

A Good Writer Can Ruin a Good Story

522 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, dialogue
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Building a brand is not rocket science nor is it particularly laborious. If done right, it requires very little effort. It will require some of your time, and you may have little to spare, but if you set aside some of that precious time to build your brand, you will be rewarded for your sacrifice. Here are the three key components of building an author brand:


1. Be you: We've discussed this many times on the blog. An author brand bridges the worlds of art and commerce. You are an artist seeking commercial success. Your brand won't be a corporate brand, nor will it be a purely personal brand. It will be something in between. Your focus is to just be you with a slight nod towards your readers' interests. In the beginning, you will represent your typical reader. Build your brand to make yourself happy.


2 ABB: Always be branding. Again, this isn't too taxing. You are just being you. Just be you in a more public setting. Do some or all of the following, frequently: post to your blog, tweet, update your Facebook status, create videos, etc. Just keep putting yourself out there and making your voice be heard.


3. Interact: Once you take the digital realm with the intention of building your brand, you're going to want to start conversations with your readers. Engage with you friends, followers, and readers. Let their voices be heard. You are building more than a brand. You are building a community.


-Richard


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


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The foundation of your brand

Be authentic to your brand

907 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, branding, brand_development
3

At one point in my life, when email was a new concept and people still read physical newspapers, I worked in advertising. It was a blast because it was creatively rewarding in its own way. In that time, I was given golden rule after golden rule. Here are the top three that are still relevant today:


1. Repetition: One ad won't get it done. I don't care if it's the greatest ad ever created in the history of ad-dom. Consumers have to be exposed to the ad over and over and over again. Actually, some studies indicate that a consumer won't be moved to purchase until the seventh to tenth exposure to an ad. I remember years ago when an author purchased a half page ad that cost five figures in a prestigious newspaper at the time, it generated a handful of sales. He was furious and blamed the company that created the ad when he should have been outraged at the person who encouraged him to use his entire advertising budget on a one-time-run of the ad.


2. Know your readers: Running an ad a hundred times in front of a demographic that does not represent your typical reader is also a costly mistake. Know who your readers are, and you'll know where to find them.


3. Brevity is the soul of good advertising: This isn't a novel. This is advertising. Keep it brief in order to make it portable. These days, if it can't fit in a tweet, you're hindering your marketing efforts. Even before twitter, ads that were short and concise were always the most effective. "Got milk?" Keep it short and make it easy for people to share.


-Richard

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


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Don't Say It Unless You Meme It

Social Media Best Practices

1,013 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, advertising, selling_books, writing, promotions
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Unless you're a grammar nut like I am, chances are you've never heard the term "passive voice." Here's a quick explanation:


Passive voice without attribution is when we learn that something happens without learning who did it.


For example:


  • Active voice: Gloria ate all the cookies.
  • Passive voice without attribution: All the cookies were eaten.
  • Active voice: David stole the cookies out of the box.
  • Passive voice without attribution: The cookies were stolen out of the box.


Passive voice with attribution tell us who did it:


  • All the cookies were eaten by Gloria.
  • The cookies were stolen out of the box by David.


Passive voice with attribution is clunky, but it is better than no attribution at all.


It's okay to use the passive voice now and again, but as a rule it's best to avoid it because the writing sounds a bit weak.Andusing it too often without attribution can irritate your readers because they will be left wondering things such as "Who ate the cookies?" or "Who stole the cookies?"


Journalists (have to) use passive voice without attribution when they simply don't have all the information, for example:


  • Police say the victim was pushed down the stairs.


If the police (and by extension) the reporter knew who pushed the victim down the stairs, the active voice could be used:


  • Police say the victim's ex-husband pushed her down the stairs.


NOTE: The sentence could also read "Police say the victim was pushed down the stairs by her ex-husband." (Again, a little clunky, but the passive voice with attribution is better than no attribution at all.)


Following are nearly identical scenarios, one using active voice, two using passive voice.


A)   The cat climbed the tree in a few seconds.

B)   The tree was climbed in a few seconds.

C)   The tree was climbed by the cat in a few seconds.


Which one do you think sounds better? If your answer isn't A, read the sentences out loud to see if that changes your mind.


-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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Active vs. Passive Voice

Why the Passive Voice Is Hated By Me

802 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, active_voice, passive_voice
2

In previous posts I've addressed my tendency to overuse certain words, phrases, or gestures, for example she bit her lip and she walked home slowly. To solve the problem I use the "find" option on Microsoft Word to catch the over-usages before my manuscripts go to the copyeditor. Some still slip through, but I'm getting better.


For words and expressions that are common, repeating them on occasion over the course of an entire novel is not a problem. For example:


  • She opened the door.
  • He fed the dog.
  • They ate dinner at home.


It's the uncommon ones that are problematic when repeated, because they are memorable. For example, using any of the following more than once in a novel would not go unnoticed by your readers:


  • She covered her face with her hands and began sobbing hysterically.
  • To celebrate, he jumped up and did splits in the air.
  • As she looked at him, her eyes flickered with curiosity.


While it's fine to sprinkle the same common gestures here and there over the course of an entire book, be careful to space them out. Last week I began reading a novel in which the following appeared in the span of just two pages in the first chapter:


  1. Kristen rubbed my arm, yanking me back to the present.
  2. Kristen rubbed my forearm. "Please talk to us."
  3. Kristen pushed out her lower lip. She rubbed my forearm.


If those sentences had appeared fifty pages apart, I doubt I would have noticed them, but their proximity made them leap off the page. As a result I stopped thinking about the story and instead found myself wondering how neither the author nor the copyeditor had noticed the repetition. Annoyed, I also gave up on that book and moved on to another one. That's not what you want to happen to your readers, right? So be careful! We all have our "crutch" words. What are some of yours?


-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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Writing tip: don't be afraid to cut

Writing tip: be careful not to overdo the beats

773 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, grammar
1

Epilogues and prologues are sometimes enigmatic parts of a novel that can even perplex the author of a book. What are they, and are they necessary? The answer to the second question is no, you don't need them. The inclusion of an epilogue or prologue or both is purely a matter of style. Some authors find them useful, but most authors in today's publishing world don't include them in their books. I have used them, and I do find them useful.


They are extra-bits of a story. In mystery books, a prologue can be the incident that triggers the mystery. I've used the epilogue to wrap up a subplot that would be the bridge to the next book in a series.  In the final chapter of the book, after the conclusion, I simply used the epilogue as a launching point for the next story.


Some authors, use a different point of view in their epilogues and prologues. They play with style and voice to give the story a book-end feel to it. A prologue can even be in the author's voice. In this case, it would be used to explain the motivation behind the story, what drove the author to write it and share it with the world?


Epilogues and prologues aren't for everyone. If you've never included either in a book, don't worry. They aren't crucial to the structure of the book. But, you may find, as I have, that they can be fun to write, and if done right, they can give your story that little extra oomph that you've been looking for. 


-Richard

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


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Keep them guessing to keep them reading

The boring parts of a novel

3,351 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, prologue, epilogue
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I'm in there

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 1, 2017

I used to proudly tell people who asked, and some who didn't, that I never write about the people I know. How could I? I write science fiction, horror, and thrillers filled with awful, terrible, not very nice people. Some were even monsters, literal monsters. I don't know anyone or anything like that.


I realized sometime later in my writing career that I lied about not writing about people I know. Well, not lied. I misunderstood my own source of inspiration. I thought I was drawing on a deep well of imagination and creating characters (and creatures) that were wholly unique. I wasn't. I was giving my fictional characters the characteristics of people I knew in real life. Not knowingly. And, I'm not even certain the people who've influenced me would recognize themselves in the characters I write because what I've actually managed to do is to take a little bit from a multitude of real people and implant all those little bits into one character, giving him or her or it their own personality built from the familiar parts.


I recently discovered I even put myself in some of my characters. I had a play produced this year that featured a character who always referred to an article he'd read on a topic, presenting himself as an expert based on said article. Months after completing the play, I caught myself doing the very same thing to my brother-in-law. It was a sad epiphany, but it was a valuable lesson. I am, in a lot of ways, what I write. How about you? Do you or the people you know make appearances in your book, either wittingly or unwittingly?


-Richard

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


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What would your characters do?

How to love your villain

681 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, characterization
1

When my novels come out I usually have one launch party where I live (New York City) and one in my hometown in California. The parties typically include a no-host bar, with me at a table signing books and chatting with a mix of friends, family, and fans--low-key but good fun. For my latest novel, a super fan of mine, Veronica, who lives in Texas, asked if I'd be doing a "virtual party" as well. I told her I had zero idea what that was, so she offered to plan one for me on Facebook. Curious as to how that would work, I said yes!


Here's what happened next:


  • Veronica created an event on Facebook just like any other event, then invited me along with all her friends.
  • She made sure the event was marked as "public" so invitees could invite their friends, I could invite my friends, fans, etc. (In other words, anyone who had a Facebook account could attend.)
  • She created multiple "games" related to my books for attendees to play during the party. Each game was a fun question that Veronica would post, and attendees would answer in the comments section.
  • To add a visual touch, she made a cute meme to go with each question.
  • Veronica put all of the above into a detailed itinerary for the party, which was to last for three hours so people could pop in and out. It included a "roll call," in which everyone in attendance stated their location (and a greeting if they wanted) in the comments section.
  • Interspersed with the trivia questions were giveaways of signed copies of my individual books--plus a grand prize of signed copies of them all!


I know that I was fortunate to have a fan organizing this party for me, but it's now evident that it's something I could have done on my own--which means you can too!


-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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What Is a Virtual Book Tour?

How to Connect with Your Readers

1,147 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, launch_party, virtual_party
2

Character traps

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 22, 2017

Writing fiction, if you do enough of it, presents itself with traps that can get authors in trouble. Here are three character traps to avoid as you pen your next masterpiece.


  1. Know-it-all: One thing that drives me crazy when I read a mystery novel is when one character, many times a crack detective, has all the answers. What kind of poison was used to kill the victim? Well, it just so happens that our protagonist got a degree in chemistry. Figuring out the poison used is really no problem. Also, if you have questions about the victim's last meal, the type of watch he wore, the kind of razor he shaved with, etc., it just so happens the protagonist has read and committed to memory dozens of books on these topics and more. When a "know-it-all" takes over a story I'm reading, I lose interest because it's just too convenient.
  2. All-bad: When a villain is nothing but bad, I don't really get invested in him or her as much as I should. I want there to be something likable about the villain--some redeeming quality. In a way, it makes him or her more sinister if I fall into a false sense of security that the villain will do the right thing. When he or she doesn't, it's even more shocking.
  3. All-good: This is the inverse trap to the previous one. All-good protagonists are, in a word, boring. Flaws give a character depth and relatability. I can't identify with a character who has never done anything wrong and doesn't have doubts sometimes about whether he or she is making the right choice.


Take some time to examine your characters and make sure they're not falling into these traps. If they are, try rewriting to make them more complex.


-Richard

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


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Your Characters, Warts and All

 

The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

1,029 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, characterization, character_traps
1

 

Hyphens are used to avoid ambiguity when two descriptive words are next to each other before a noun. (They are also used for compound words such as self-esteem.)

 

For example, take the following sentence:

 

The small business owner got a great loan from the bank.

 

Is the business owner who got a great loan small? Or does the person who got a great loan own a small business? Most likely it's the latter, but without a hyphen it's unclear, which is why a hyphen is necessary in this case.

 

The small-business owner got a great loan from the bank. (CORRECT)

The small business owner got a great loan from the bank. (INCORRECT)

 

Here's another example:

 

The hard charging executive took a vacation.

 

Is the executive hard? Or does the executive charge hard? Most likely it's the latter, but again without a hyphen it's unclear, which is why a hyphen is also necessary in this case.

 

  • The hard-charging executive took a vacation. (CORRECT)
  • The hard charging executive took a vacation. (INCORRECT)

 

Where I often see hyphens being used incorrectly is when an adverb is next to a descriptive word before a noun. Adverbs (usually words ending in ly) modify only verbs or adjectives and not nouns, so there is no need for a hyphen.

 

For example:

 

  • The highly regarded professor gave a lecture. (CORRECT)
  • The highly-regarded professor gave a lecture. (INCORRECT)

 

  • The newly hired caterer got straight to work. (CORRECT)
  • The newly-hired caterer got straight to work. (INCORRECT)

 

  • The recently promoted director took the corner office. (CORRECT)
  • The recently-promoted director took the corner office. (INCORRECT)

 

If the above examples have you squinting at your screen in puzzlement, try taking away the descriptive word in each sentence:

 

  • The highly professor gave a lecture. (MAKES NO SENSE)
  • The newly caterer got straight to work. (MAKES NO SENSE)
  • The recently director took the corner office. (MAKES NO SENSE)

 

Got it? If there's no ambiguity about what a word is modifying, then there's no need for a hyphen.

 

-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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Quick lesson on hyphens

 

Don't cook your family, Rachel!

986 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, hyphenation, grammar_tip
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