5 Writing Tidbits


1

Everyone always says that you have no control over your cover if you go traditionally published.  But you do–and this is something that can be done with indie as well.  Most scenes don’t lend themselves visually.  So when you write your story, include 3-4 scenes that are visual.  This comes from one of Dave Farland’s workshops at Writing Superstars.

2

Research for your local area is easy.  Start by looking at the street names.  Unless you’re driving through one of the urban cul-de-sacs developers really like, many of the streets will reflect the history of landowners and famous people.  My hometown was named Roscoe (later renamed), supposedly to get Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle on a real estate deal.  The city says that’s unconfirmed.  But there is a street with a name very similar to Arbuckle’s wife…

3

I’m never going to be able to break the habit of typing two spaces after a period.  When I learned to type that was standard and it’s ingrained deeply in habit.  So the easy fix is to run a search for two spaces and replace it with one.  Then repeat the search.  I’m always shocked to find a few that must have had four spaces!  How’d that happen?!

4

This one’s a pet peeve, especially for writers because our stock and trade is in the black marks on the page.  When you talk about revising, call it revising, not editing.  Many, many writers inexplicably use the terms as they were interchangeable when they’re two different processes.  There’s a really good class called Keys to Editing that gives a good general idea of the different parts of editing (I think it would be superficial if you were starting a business as an editor though).

5

One piece of advice I heard over the years had me really confused:

Q: How long is a scene?

A: How long is a piece of string?

Enough to make my eyes cross.  I ended up with scenes that were 3,000 words long because I couldn’t figure out when to stop.  The result was that the scenes rambled and were unfocused.  Turns out there is an answer more specific that that string theory (which came from a traditionally published writer.  He must have been messing with us!).  The pulps had it down: 300-1500 words.  Check out Lester Dent’s Master Plot Formula.  If you pick up a best selling writer and type the first scene out, you’re most likely to find that it falls within this 1500 word limit, even though it won’t look like it does.  It’s a nice length because it ends before the reader starts fidgeting.