Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of writing advice. Some of those tips have been good. These are not those tips. If you want to become a better writer, ignore these so-called tips any time you see them, no matter who you hear them from.
Depending on who you talk to (and how old they are), they might tell you we’re living in the information age. Or maybe the digital era. Or something to this effect. At any rate, what they mean is we’re currently living in an era super-powered by technology and technological advances. At risk of dating myself, I remember dial-up modems and VHS tapes and casettes. My parents remember “party-line” telephones and typewriters.
All writers have them. They go by many different names. You may not even notice them at first. They pretend to be your friends, but they’re not. They’re actually your worst enemies.
No, I’m not talking about inner demons. I’m talking about weasel words.
Have you taken a look at your NaNoWriMo project since you finished it on November 30? Setting a manuscript aside is a great first step. You’ve probably found yourself wondering, “What next?” Someone will almost inevitably suggest publishing it or looking for an agent. Someone might say you want or need to get it edited.
He said, she said. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You’re reading a book and you’re suddenly struck by the utter repetitiveness of the dialogue tags. Every other line seems to have the word “said.”
We’ve finally kissed 2017 goodbye, and people are looking forward to 2018. If you’re like most people, you’ve set yourself some goals for the coming twelve months. Popular New Year’s resolutions include getting better shape, eating better, and reading more books.
Hyphens are probably one of an editor’s most notorious nemeses. It can be straight-up confusing to use them. (Fun fact: I once knew an editor who was a complete stickler for proper hyphen usage. It was her editorial nitpick.)
If editors don’t know how and when to use hyphens half the time, what chance do the rest of us have? It turns out that hyphenation, as convoluted and confusing as it can be, does have a few straight-forward rules you can follow.
Double-tapping is one of the more annoying things I encounter when I’m editing. This particular typographical sin is usually committed by people in an older demographic, those who were around when typewriters were still in use or those who witnessed the rise of the personal computer and the word processor.
The thing is, our technology has evolved. We don’t need to double tap anymore.
Many authors have just finished up the slog that is National Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Every year, thousands of people sign up to challenge themselves to write a full-fledged novel—defined as 50,000 words—in thirty days. NaNoWriMo bills itself as a fun experience and a huge challenge.
Yet there’s mixed reaction to the very idea of this challenge in writing circles. Some people love it. Others find it too stressful. Almost as many writers fail at it as succeed. So what’s the big problem?