Monday, February 19, 2018

Want to See Your Name in One of My Books?

Hello Lovely Readers!

So I'm going to get right to the point today. I've started a Crowd Fund Campaign to fund my  next book launch, which should take place in April. Basically I'm accepting donations to help with this fund.



There are actually many award levels, some geared toward readers and some toward authors. Click HERE to see them all.

But the most important thing you should know right now is that anyone who donates will automatically be included in the acknowledgements of that book. (It's book 3 of the Interchron series, btw. ;D)

So do me a favor and check out the campaign. All donations, no matter how big or small, are gratefully accepted and will be acknowledged in the book.

Also, if you can't afford to donate (I completely understand) can you do me a favor and share this post? The best way to have a successful campaign is to get it in front of the eyes of those who can afford to donate.

So check out the campaign below, and thanks for reading. Have a great Monday! ;D



Monday, January 15, 2018

Ax Those Crutch Words: BUT

Picture Source
Good morning, lovely readers! Welcome to my series on crutch words and passive voice, as I know this is something we all struggle with.

If you've ever read your writing and thought it sounded sub-par or unprofessional, but just didn't know how to fix it, chances are you're leaning on crutch words or using passive voice. I'll show you how to fix that.

The truth is that writers don't have enough of a science behind fixing this sort of thing. Sure, most of the really great writers out there stay away from crutch words and passive voice, but most of that is instinctual for them, after a lot of hours of writing and learning and honing.

Even most other authors you'll find may be able to tell you that something is lacking in your writing, but even they may not know exactly what it is or how to fix it. Or even if they can pinpoint it, it's hard for them (for any of us) to give actual, definable steps toward fixing our weak writing.

Saying, "Do it better," really doesn't help much. Especially newbie writers who really want to write better, but simply don't know how.

Here's where I'll start giving tips to help you out with this. Because there are many MANY offenders when it comes to crutch words, and they nearly always lead to passive voice. So if you cut out your crutch words, 99% of the passive voice in your writing automatically goes away. Isn't that amazing? And you get the added benefit of tighter, more grounded writing. The kind readers love to read and publishers love to publish.

Today's offender: BUT

"She wanted to help, but didn't know how."

I use this format in my writing a lot. I compare two things and separate the clauses with the word "but." It's certainly not a bad thing. Especially if you don't do it and need a way to change up your sentence structure, try it. But (hehe) I do it too much. I also start too many sentences with the word "But."

So for this, I go through and read each "but." If I can separate the two clauses into two sentences without changing the meaning, I do. If the "but" must be there, and I can't find any other way to say what I want, then I leave it. Again, I find I can always get rid of most instances of this without changing the story at all. At least, I can easily get down to the 1% rule.

Example 1: It felt cowardly, but confronting him would have to wait.
The Fix: It felt cowardly. Yet confronting him would have to wait.

Example 2: He needed to get in line, but tied his shoe first.
The Fix: He needed to get in line. He tied his shoe first.

(Of course, you should change up your sentence structure here as well, so it doesn’t feel so repetitive. You get my drift, though.)

Last Resort Synonyms:
1. And - "But" should only be used if differentiating something. Showing how something is different than what you said in the first clause. Often it's interchangeable with "and."

Example 1: He went to the store but couldn't find what he needed.
The Fix: He went to the store and couldn't find what he needed.

2. Except - This works in a case where "but" is being used to show a remnant of something.

Example 2: He took all the cookies but one.
The Fix: He took all the cookies except one.



Again, these are "last resort" because you're substituting one filler word for another, even if the one you swap for isn't a crutch for you. Use with caution.



These examples tell you how to fix only this one crutch word. There are dozens more hiding in your writing and make it ooze with amateurishness and inexperience. Those words have to go if you want your writing to make it to the big leagues and brush shoulders with the heavy-hitters. 

Pick up my book, Editing for Crutch Words on Amazon for more tips and tricks to take your writing from okay to amazing! 




Check out Ax Those Crutch Words: Part 1: Was and Part 2: Had.

Also, check out my other books at: www.authorlkhill.com.

How about you? Is HAD a culprit in your writing?

Friday, January 5, 2018

Writing Advice NOT to Heed: Strong Female Characters

Lately I've been thinking about all the advice newbie writers are given. Some of it is good. Other pieces are great. But as is the case when learning any craft or industry, you end up getting a lot of advice that simply isn't worth heeding. Of course you often don't know it until years later.

When I was shopping around my first book, Citadels of Fire, to traditional publishers, what I heard over and over again was that I needed a strong female character and to sell the book, I needed to capitalize on her strengths in the description.

The problem with that is that my female character, Inga, isn't what most people would consider traditionally strong. In fact, I sort of wrote her to be weak in the beginning so the audience could see the dynamic change in her over the course of the trilogy. Even though I thought she was a compelling character, I couldn't think of any particular strengths she had that I could capitalize on, so I had a hard time selling the story to traditional publishers and agents.

Part of the problem was being so new and not understanding how to frame my story in a way that readers and others in the industry can latch on to. That's a skill that comes over time

But my point is that if you listened to traditional publishing advice, it starts to sound like every story must contain a tough-as-nails, leather-wearing, Laura-Croft-type kickass character or the story won't sell.

That's simply not true. 

I'd venture to guess that any character you write will have strengths. They just may not be the traditionally "strong" female characters that the industry likes to rave about. Anything can be a strength. Even things that are low key. Look at Jane Eyre. On the surface, she appeared quite plain and boring to most people, but she's one of the most beloved female characters of all time. Decide what your character's strengths are and play them up. A lot. Just don't assume they have to fit into any particular mould.

And don't get me wrong: kickass characters are great and they do tend to be fan favorites. But there are other fish in the sea. And there's a lot to be said for starting your character off in a place of weakness and letting your audience watch her/him grow. My audience has connected with Inga in a way that has pleased me immensely. They love her because they can see her growing stronger from one book to the next.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here (sarcasm) and say that it's less important for your character, male or female, to be "strong" (what's the definition on that anyway; it's a total umbrella term) than to be relatable. It's the characters unique traits that will connect your audience to them.

Let's take a look at a couple of character examples who tend to be fan favorites: Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.

Source

Hermione definitely kicked butt with her spells various times over the series, but she wasn't exactly a leather-wearing martial arts expert. Her strength was in her goodness and her academic smarts. She wasn't strong in a physical or conventional sense, but because everyone either knew a girl like her, or WAS a girl like her during their school days, she's very relatable.

And how about Ron? He doesn't have any tangible qualities to point to. He's your average every-boy. His strengths are in the non-tangible: humility, kindness, and loyalty to his friends and family. But because he's just so human and boyish, he's someone every single one of us can relate to.

See what I mean? So pick your characters' major traits (the less like other characters, the better, in my opinion) and just bring them across in a strong way.

Ignore the hype that suggests every successful story must have a strong female character, a vampire or werewolf, an exotic setting and a pornographic love scene. Because if that's all we had to read, well...that would be awful. ;D

How do YOU bring across strength in your characters?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ax Those Crutch Words: HAD

Source
Good morning, lovely readers! Welcome to my series on crutch words and passive voice, as I know this is something we all struggle with.

If you've ever read your writing and thought it sounded sub-par or unprofessional, but just didn't know how to fix it, chances are you're leaning on crutch words or using passive voice. I'll show you how to fix that.

The truth is that writers don't have enough of a science behind fixing this sort of thing. Sure, most of the really great writers out there stay away from crutch words and passive voice, but most of that is instinctual for them, after a lot of hours of writing and learning and honing.

Even most other authors you'll find may be able to tell you that something is lacking in your writing, but even they may not know exactly what it is or how to fix it. Or even if they can pinpoint it, it's hard for them (for any of us) to give actual, definable steps toward fixing our weak writing.

Saying, "Do it better," really doesn't help much. Especially newbie writers who really want to write better, but simply don't know how.

Here's where I'll start giving tips to help you out with this. Because there are many MANY offenders when it comes to crutch words, and they nearly always lead to passive voice. So if you cut out your crutch words, 99% of the passive voice in your writing automatically goes away. Isn't that amazing? And you get the added benefit of tighter, more grounded writing. The kind readers love to read and publishers love to publish.

Today's offender: HAD

1. Get rid of multiple past tense instances. "Had" shows up the most when you're writing in past tense. "She had gone downstairs to find her shoes." The thing is, you only need one instance of "had" to show you're talking about something from the past. After the first instance, you can use regular past tense. Observe the difference:

"She had gone downstairs to look for her shoes. She had gone into the bathroom. They weren't there. She had then gone into her room, and had searched every nook and cranny. Not finding them, she had gone back upstairs to search the living room."

See how many "hads" there are? It becomes a headache. Now let's take out those crutch words, leaving in only the first instance to establish past tense.

"She had gone downstairs to look for her shoes. She searched in the bathroom. They weren't there. She went into her room, searching every nook and cranny. Not finding them, she went back upstairs to search the living room."

See the difference?

2. Cut Filler. If it makes sense without the "had," get rid of it. If the sentence only makes sense with the had, then obviously keep it. I find that 50% of my hads are filler and can be cut without affecting the sentence in the least.

Example 1: “Who’s Gabe?” Jane had demanded.
The Fix: “Who’s Gabe?” Jane demanded.

Example 2: The phone screen had shown the number clearly.
The Fix: The phone screen showed the number clearly.

Example 3: She had not gotten any groceries.
The Fix: She didn't get any groceries.

Example 4: He had come to see the game.
The Fix: He came to see the game.

Example 5: They had to be mistaken.
The Fix: They must be mistaken.

Example 6: She'd had to learn the spell.


The Fix: She'd learned the spell. 



These examples tell you how to fix only this one crutch word. There are dozens more hiding in your writing and make it ooze with amateurishness and inexperience. Those words have to go if you want your writing to make it to the big leagues and brush shoulders with the heavy-hitters. 

Pick up my book, Editing for Crutch Words on Amazon for more tips and tricks to take your writing from okay to amazing! 




Check out my other books at: www.authorlkhill.com.

How about you? Is HAD a culprit in your writing?