The Truth — Editing IS Important

After reading this article:

I find that there’s a lot of truth in what it said. As many of you may or may not know, I’m not only a writer, but an editor as well. I’ve mostly edited anthologies for various small presses. I can tell you, straight up, that yes writers need to learn to edit better. Maybe that’s why I cringe so much over self-publishing, because I know that most all authors have no idea how to use basic grammar and punctuation! The biggest area where most writers are lacking is punc in dialogue, and this is something you can learn from reading and paying attention.

Being an editor can in itself be a nightmare because of the authors who resist even the slightest change.

I’m going to share two of my recent editing experiences with you, but I’m not going to name names.

I was asked by a small press to edit a single author collection recently. It was okay, but overall I wasn’t impressed with the author’s collection. I did my best to make it better — something that can be done by simple editing — but the author fought me the entire way, as did the press. Apparently things like consistency, pacing, and accurate research didn’t matter to either of them. Still, I barreled on, letting them have their way. Hell, as long as they were happy, right? I finished the project, sent it in and thought we were done. Then they went behind my back and reedited the book without telling me. I was really mad at first, but now, looking back a couple months later, I’m glad my name isn’t on it.

Flip side.

At the same time I was editing the collection, I was editing a novel for someone who gave me permission to change anything I wanted. I had fun with this project, and once I sent it back to the author, they were told (when they submitted it) that it was the best edited manuscripts they’d ever had submitted. Needless to say, this author wants me to work with them on future projects.

Granted, no, I’m not perfect. No editor is and you will find mistakes in every book you read; it’s just a matter of you knowing they’re mistakes. Most basic readers won’t notice some of the smaller mistakes in punctuation, because they themselves don’t know the rules, but the stronger readers do know, and they’re the ones giving the reviews. They’re the ones willing to spend money to buy your book.

I think that one of the reasons the ‘free ebooks’ are good for self-published writers in that the consumer won’t really complain about it not being perfect, because, after all, they’re not out anything other than reading time and they might think your story was cute. This leaves the door wide open for anyone — who can string words into something that looks like a sentence — a place in the publishing world. It’s not a grand place, but they feel good because they can tell everyone they have a book out. I can promise you though, they aren’t going to be raving about your book to their friends or anything. You aren’t going to get a fan base or a following unless you put some effort into it.

If you want to actually do something with your writing, you have to take it serious before anyone else will. You have to learn plot, characterization, pacing, consistency, punctuation:EDITING. Or, you’re going to have to get someone to do it for you, and let them do it. You’re going to have to shell out some cash to get your book professionally edited.

Warning, though, this can be a trap too. Some editors aren’t that much better at editing than the self-publishing grammar slobs (not all of them are, some do know what they’re doing, but it’s a select few). You should read something edited by the person you want to have edit your stuff, or at least ask for a sample or references.

With me also being a writer, most people who ask me to edit for them have read my stuff. But, if possible, I still give them a reference.

A sample can be very simple. Ask them to edit a paragraph up to a page of your manuscript — I mean, if you’re going to shell out up to $800 for a professional edit (yes, it could be that much), you want to know you’re going to be happy with the product you’re getting back, right?

Another quick editing experience I had once… A press I was working with asked me to proof read a book one of their authors had paid someone to edit for them. OMG, it was a mess. Their run on sentences were out of control and I had to insert commas everywhere, and spelling inconsistencies, wrong words, plot holes, etc, were rampant. I could not believe this book had ever been edited. Shouldn’t an editor know the difference between isle and aisle? *groan*

It’s not easy editing, and that’s why all of us hate it so much. But if it’s done right, editing can make your book shine and make you look good!

So, either take the time to learn what you need to know to make your work better, or find someone who can help you. Because if you want to be taken serious as an author, you have to first take your work serious and put your best manuscript forward.



©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.


Interview with Author Adam Millard

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I’m an author of mainly horror and dark fantasy.  I currently have nine novels available, and my short stories can be found in anthologies across the world.  I’m father to a nine month-old son, which is a lot more difficult than anything else I’ve tried my hand at.  I’m currently working on a device that can mute nine month-old babies without causing lasting damage to their motor-functions.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

I started writing at a very early age.  I was really into Richard Laymon and Shaun Hutson, and by thirteen I had read everything my local library had to offer by both authors.  Stephen King was a massive influence; I read The Stand, which I think was the book that made me want to start writing.  I was hooked on books by Whitley Strieber and James Herbert when I decided to sit down and give it a go, myself.  I had an old typewriter and would just clack away for hours, creating these mini space-operas.  I wish I still had those, now.  It would be interesting, to say the least.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Certainly the Kindle has made a massive difference to the publishing industry; things are a lot easier, now.  I think the main struggle is selling a book once it’s released.  You’ve done all of the hard work, you’ve spent six months, a year, whatever, getting your manuscript up to scratch, and you’ve formatted and released it as an eBook.  Why isn’t anybody reading it?  It’s magnificent, better than half of the shit on the NYT Bestseller list, and yet it has ended up at propping up the charts.  The main struggle, I think, is getting people to initially take a chance on an unknown author.  Marketing is hard work, harder than writing the book in the first place.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

The books I am probably best known for are my zombie series.  Dead West, Dead Cells, and the soon-to-be-released Dead Frost, are post-apocalyptic zombie novels, each with their own twist.  I have a collection of macabre stories, Chasing Nightmares, a brutal re-imagining of a Charles Dickens classic – Olly, and a YA comedy-horror called Peter Crombie, Teenage Zombie.  My first book to be published, Only In Whispers, is getting a re-release later on this year, and my comedy-fantasy books, The Ballad Of Dax and Yendyll and Grimwald The Great, are being released as an hardcover omnibus.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I’m working on the fourth and fifth books in my Dead series, and a sequel to Peter Crombie, Teenage Zombie is also on the cards.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

I have a lot of stuff coming out this year through various publishers.  I’m currently working with Chris Taggart, my illustrator, on a one-shot comic of Dead Cells, which should be out in time for Christmas.

Bec: If you were the last man on Earth and there were twenty women, how would you handle the situation?

Not well.  I think I’ve had this dream, and if I recall it ended very badly.  Twenty women?  That’s a lot for any man to have to try to deal with.  Do I have a weapon?

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Purple, or black.  No purple…erm, I don’t have one.  Anything darker than my soul.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

I sometimes write in complete silence, and other times I have to listen to the most ear-grinding death-metal I can get my hands on.  If I’m writing a particularly nasty scene, I think the music helps.

Bec: If you had to wear bright pink spandex or blazen orange polyester short suit to go on TV, which would you wear?

Pink Spandex, every time.  I think a certain element of eccentricity can be expected from an author.  I’d probably wear a top-hat with it, and carry an umbrella.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I read everything I can get my hands on.  Horror, Sci-fi, Fantasy, anything except romance.  I can’t be doing with all that nonsense.  I’m rereading the classics at the moment: Jeckyll And Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1984, The Martian Chronicles.  I haven’t read The Stand yet this year, which is very strange, indeed.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

I think that it has to be.  In order to tell your story – and that’s what it is; your story – you have to fully submerse yourself in it.  There is no other way to do it.  Often, my wife doesn’t even know what I’m working on.  I’ll tell her a few months down the line that a story has been picked up, and she’ll say something like, “That sounds like a great story. Why didn’t you tell me about it?”  The fact is, we work alone, we think too much, and we’re brooding.  I’m just glad I quit drinking when I did.

Bec: Gum or breath mint?

Gum.  Breath mints are dangerous if you don’t approach them with the caution they deserve.  Always read the instructions, and never attempt more than one at a time.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Learn to deal with rejection.  If you cry at the sight of negative feedback, then choose another profession.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

See above.  I cry a lot, but I’m stubborn.

Bec: Fuzzy critter or feathered friend?

Fuzzy critter.  I have two rabbits and a cat.  I inherited the cat, and can’t say I’m a massive fan as it is a minion of Satan, but I love the rabbits.  I’m hugely into owls, though.  I’d love an owl, just sitting in the corner watching me work.  My wife won’t let me get one, though, because you have to feed them mice, and she’s against all forms of animal cruelty, even if they are frozen.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friends is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

It is massively important to surround yourself with like-minded people.  Writers are apt to go crazy if left alone for too long.  There comes a point where you have to stop writing and network, and the best way to do that is through social sites such as Facebook or Twitter.  You will find critics, editors, reviewers and readers all through networking, so I would say get to know as many writers as possible.  If nothing else, at least you’ll have somebody to cry with when the rejections start to roll in.

Bec: Take out the trash or do the dishes?

Trash.  It takes twenty seconds, maybe less.  I’m all about the maths.  By the time you get back into the house, the sink would still be filling up.  Though, I do both.  My wife thinks that being a writer means that I don’t actually work, not in the conventional sense, and so I do everything around the house, including nappies, bottles, baking, and occasionally a bit of writing.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

For me, it has to be The Stand.  It’s just magnificent; a tale of Good Vs Evil.  I find myself drawn to both sides every time I read it, which is why I urge everyone to pick it up.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Stephen King, purely because I wouldn’t be a writer today if I hadn’t read everything he’s ever put out.  It’s a close call, though, as Terry Pratchett is also a major influence.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Yeah.  My wife likes Twilight.  That is all.

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!


©Rebecca Besser & Adam Millard, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Craig Saunders

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I’m actually only three feet tall, but my legs are three feet long, too, so I work out about average in the end. I write all sorts, but horror, mainly. It’s where it’s at, right? I guess I’m a fantasist, and horror lets me make up elaborate fantasies that result in people dying. It’s a good hobby. 

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

Lord of the Rings, hands down. But I started out writing epic fantasy, so I’d say Terry Brooks, David Gemmell, David Eddings…I read all those guys about 20 years or so ago, and because I loved them so much, I thought I could do it. I couldn’t. Not then. I can now, just not fantasy. I’m too lazy for a series. 

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Marketing’s mental these days, with so many choices thrown up by the Kindle revolution. I think marketing gives me far more headaches than writing. Writing’s easy. You just make things up.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Right, pull up a chair, throw it through the nearest window, because it’s time to escape! Ha, not really. Short and sweet, right?

Rain’s about a guy called John March who discovers he’s the sole beneficiary to a massive will. But when it starts to rain his day ends up far from peachy, and then the dying starts. There’s violence, sex, drugs and swearing in it. Four of your five a day.

Spiggot, from Grand Mal Press, is a comedy. A bit of a diversion from me, but in a good way. Comedy’s far harder than horror. Spiggot’s the lead character, a misanthropic detective working the streets of Norfolk, England. His nemesis, The Egyptian Lady from Stoke, sends Spiggot’s soul by foul means into the body of a mad axe murderer. It’s down to Trout, Spiggot’s gammy eyed partner, to save the day. It’s funny, honest.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I don’t really do sequels of anything anymore, though I’ll finish my fantasy septology one day…and although I just said that, I’ll probably write a follow up to Spiggot. I love the characters and the concept, and there’s a lot of room for more books. So I said I’d never write a series and I’ve already gone back on my word. I suck. 

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

I write a lot of short stories, so I often pop up in various publications. Trying desperately not to sound like too much of a knob, I always post any successes on my blog, Check me out there if you’re interested in any of my other publications.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

I don’t like colours. They smell funny. I like music, though. So, green.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Music! All the time. Every kind of music imaginable. One of my favourite writers and friends, Ian Woodhead, recently put me onto Industrial Black Metal. I’m going to listen to that later. Though, really, I’m too nice to listen to that kind of stuff. But it’s fun, nonetheless.

Bec: Gore or pants-wetting-fear?

I think there’s a place for both, but really, I like horror with a happy ending. I’m a big softy really. If a horror book’s too scary, too much emotional distress, I’ll put it down. So, I guess I prefer gore, as that’s sweet. I’m a horror writer, OK? I think zombies are cute.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I like to read and write everything, really, apart from Romance, I guess. I’ve read and written science fiction, comedy, fantasy, horror, literary, crime…I’m pretty eclectic in my tastes. Plus, I think having a broad base is good for learning the craft. Shit, did I just say learning the craft? OK, shoot me.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Yeah, lonely, but I like being lonely. I’m a lone wolf. Arooo! Really, though, I don’t like talking to people, and I’m pretty shy, so sitting in my study writing suits me just fine.

Bec: Aliens or vampires?

Aliens! Vampires are silly. Although, given a choice, I’d rather *be* a vampire. But for preference, in games, movies, books, I prefer aliens. Aliens, as a general rule, don’t groom teenage girls.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Bugger all! It’s hard enough without more of us! Haha. Not really. My sole advice is this: If you want to be a writer, you have to write. Write a lot. Learn how to do it. Write, write, write. Don’t fart about reading ‘how to write’, ‘so you want to be a writer’, ‘ten greatest tips to writing’. All of that’s just procrastination. Write. Hell, though, what do I know?!

Bec: Fall down or throw up?

I don’t drink, but I’m clumsy, so fall down!

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Just how damn hard it is to get published, let alone to achieve the dream of a big publishing deal. First off I looked at the whole deal as just learning how to write, but there’s a lot to learn, and a long way to go. Big deals for first time writers are very, very rare. Still, if you’re a writer, you have to write, whether you get published or not. Being a writer isn’t usually something you have a choice about. Maybe you have a choice about being a novelist. But not a writer. It’s a passion, and something you need. It’s not all about the money.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Nope. It’s important for my sanity, but for me, I learn as I go, and I don’t worry about what other people think. Sounds a bit tosspotty, but at the end of the day you have to be true to the muse and not worry too much what other people think. Though, that said, it’s amazing to have so many writer friends, and without exception my friends are great people. I think writers as a bunch are usually very supportive.

Bec: Severed limbs or nudity?

If you’re talking about how I like my ladies, I’ve had to say nude.  If it’s a choice for myself, nudity. If it’s how I like my books…severed limbs. Sex in books is generally just embarrassing and poorly handled. Hehe. He said handled. So, severed nudity is my answer.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Seriously, that’s a mad hard question. I think Stephen King’s The Stand is my most read. If I’m in the right mood, I like The Lord of the Rings. Favourite series has been, hands down, GRR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. Favourite author for sheer fun and readability – Lee Child. Genius forever award goes to Terry Pratchett. Not really an answer, I know, but there’s just too many amazing books to pick! 

Bec:  What’s your favorite fruit?

I hate fruit, so I’d have to say ‘bacon’. Everything’s better with bacon.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Terry Pratchett, I think, of all the ones I stated above, because he’s so damned intelligent, humane, and his books have a certain beauty about them, aside from his invention and skill as a writer. I love Pratchett, and I’ll be damn sad to see him fade away. 

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

What a lovely question. I love my wife? Not that kind of thing? Erm…yes, there is. I’d like to share this little thought – this is the most fun interview I’ve ever done and you’re wonderful! Haha. Seriously, you’re very good at this interview lark.  Thank you!

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

Thanks Rebecca. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I appreciate you taking the time to interview me. Thank you a bunch!

©Rebecca Besser & Craig Saunders, 2011. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Scott Lange

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I am currently working on my Masters in secondary education at Grand Canyon University as part of a future career change. Running is something that I enjoy, although lately I have been slowed by injuries and a steadfast dedication to poor eating habits and hearty drinking… I have the 5 most amazingly wonderful children and very supportive and loving girlfriend, what I do, I can’t do without her.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

That is somewhat of a challenging question to answer, long story, short, I have always loved writing since I was young, through high school and into college…then life happened and, well, I stopped for 20 years until about 3 years ago, I was encouraged by a very close friend to write again and eventually the words began to escape. I’m very thankful for that friend as I discovered a lost part of myself that I greatly enjoy and love to share.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

For me it is the marketing, given the time, writing is easy. But getting your words out there for the world to read is entirely different. Its not like you can just publish a website and say here I am! If that was the case we would all be Stephen Kings or James Pattersons. I think when I got into this I was a little naïve and thought  you  could just put something cool on the internet and like magic it would go viral and next thing I’d be driving a Bentley. But the internet is strange place and people seem to like double rainbows and girls with a cup.  That being said, as a writer, we, us, me all want our voice to heard, although what is truly important, at least to me, is getting the words out of my head and onto paper, and sharing it with those that appreciate them and if that happens to be a small circle of the world that I reach…then I’m happy.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

The Beer Chronicles is a collection of stories that pass through the Paddy Rodriguez Pub. If you could imagine yourself sitting at a bar, looking around, every table, every person would have a story to be told…  I wanted the book to be something that, when read, you can see, feel and taste…one of the main reasons I made the song “Courtney did it!” and the inclusion of the art in the book. The characters of the book find themselves in some dangerous places, either physically or emotionally. These are the darker and very much twisted stories of those people…bad things, unfortunately happen to good people, that is The Beer Chronicles

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I thought I was working on a sequel for TBC, although it appears to turned into a spin off and will be a stand-alone novel. My intention was to use some stories that didn’t make it, finish some and write new ones. Although it was a story that I was finishing, taking on a life of its own while it will take place in the Paddy Rodriguez universe, will have The Dead Seattle Musicians and have a many, many pints of Jimmies Radical Ale, the story isn’t as twisted in the same vein as the TBC stories, it’s more like Jason Bourne meets Paddy Rodriguez with a generous portion of Oliver Stone and conspiracy theories thrown in. Although, I’m still working on the sequel, I have twisted stuff in the works.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

This is probably my biggest creative challenge, I have too many pots on the fire. Aside from the TBC spin off and sequel, I’m trying to work with The Dead Seattle Musicians(it’s a fictionally real band), putting together an EP based on stories in TBC. I have stretch goals/projects like filming a documentary about writing, the writing process and getting published/marketed, and possibly even a micro budget film(like Paranormal Activity) based on the story My Friend, Beer.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

The color of money, the dark amber gold of a great beer, the rich burgundy of a fine wine, the black hiding in the corners of our soul, and the white found in the purity of true love. My daughters always ask me to pick a favorite kid…they get mad at me because they are all my favorites for very different reasons. I can’t pick a favorite color. Although, I like wearing dark colors and would NOT be found dead in pink!

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Bring the Noise! I love it loud! When I write, I need music. That distraction helps me focus, my brain runs a million miles an hour and at times it’s like watching TV in sports bar, dozens of channels, and you’re not sure what to watch. Music helps me reel it in. In fact, music plays a big part in many of my stories.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I don’t really stick to a particular genre with either. When it comes to writing, my tone tends to be dark, but the genre could vary depending on the story. In fact, I even sure if my writing really fits neatly into a specific genre, I’m okay with that. My reading can be all over the charts, although right now, it tends to be text books…very dry, I would consider them, the boring genre.

Bec: If you could be any character in any book/movie, you’ve read/seen, who would it be and why?

Easy, Han Solo. Why? Because he is Han f’ing Solo!

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

You’d think that late nights in a dark room accompanied by only a bright computer monitor and my friend beer would be lonely. It’s not, at least for me, when I’m really into a story, I can get lost in the words, become part of the action…think and feel what’s happening to my characters. I think that comes out in the writing and makes it a very personal and relatable experience for the reader, even when something horrible is happening.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Don’t be afraid. Don’t let the criticism of others stop you. It takes great courage to be create and be an artist, to put yourself out there. I have great admiration for anyone that takes the chance to create and risk rejection, but even more for the person that gives rejection the finger and keeps at it.

Bec: Hot fudge or strawberry?

Mmm…Hot fudge.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

I wish that someone had told me what I said a moment ago…don’t be afraid. I lost 20+ years of writing because I was afraid of what others would say, what others did say.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

I wish I had more friends that write, I love bouncing around ideas. Sharing of ideas and techniques or the encouragement to take risks. Writers understand writers just as coach understands an athlete.

Bec: If you created your own world, what color would the grass be there?

Whoa…dude, grass should always be green, man! No, if I could create a world, the grass would be shades of orange, as it should, to go with a blue sky. There is a deeper meaning to that, just something to make you think.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Recently I read Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace, I love the detail in which he writes, although at times it gets long winded and pretentious. Of course, Fight Club, would be another, as great as it is, I’m afraid it would be a bit trendy to call that a fav. My favorite, Frankenstein, because it is dark and wildly creative for its time, or any time. Shelly creates such sympathy and compassion for the monster, you pity the beast. My story “A Decidedly Different Brew” is an homage to Frankenstein.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

I have several authors I enjoy reading…Henry Rollins, Hubert Selby Jr., Chuck Palalnuik, William S. Burroughs, and few others. They write with passion, anger and more importantly, emotion and feeling. But to pick a favorite, I am gonna go off the reservation on this one…Quintin Tarantino, sure he doesn’t write books, but he is a great story teller and a master of dynamic dialog, a cinematic Shakespeare.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

If people get the chance check out my web sites and music video for “Courtney Did it!” Book trailer 
Music Video

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to read the book and allowing me space to share a little bit about myself on your blog. I hope that your readers pour themselves a pint and enjoy The Beer Chronicles as well. Good luck to you and all your projects. Cheers!


©Rebecca Besser & Scott Lange, 2011. All rights reserved.

Pacing – A Trick of the Eye

Most people don’t realize that their eyes and brains can sometimes play little tricks on how they see and read writing; they have trained themselves to see and understand things as you’ve trained them to perceive. Once you understand this, you can learn simple tricks that can help your readers better grasp, enjoy, and love your stories.

Here are a couple simple things to be aware of when writing that can MAJORLY influence your reader’s enjoyment:

1) To improve pacing in a slow or awkwardly moving story, change the ‘did not’s ‘she had/he had’s, etc, to ‘didn’t’ & ‘she’d/he’d’ (if you’re in third person, but you get the idea). What this does is take two words and combine them as one so that your brain doesn’t have to have that little ‘pause’ at each word. This trick also takes out a few ‘had’s and ‘not’s that can sometimes become too plentiful.

I do this with my writing and I’ve had people tell me how fast my larger stories read because of it. They said that they didn’t get bored and were able to read all the way through without stopping to take breaks.

NOTE: This also gives you the ability to spilt the words up to emphasize them, so you’re using your words more wisely; it also helps with restricted word counts – you can sneak in more ‘important’ words by combining the little ones.

2) Sentence length and placement can make a big difference in how your story is read. The length of a sentence and where it’s placed can either speed up or slow down your scene/story. Keep in mind: short sentences are for quick paced action; and long sentences are for slower scenes and thoughtfulness. Also, when you’re doing a quick action scene, or want to make something more prominent, give a short sentence its own line. This really helps when you have a fight scene or something with high tension.

NOTE: The short sentence advantage doesn’t work AS WELL grouped together in a paragraph, but it can still be used that way – you just won’t get the full advantage.

3) Paragraph length and diversity. This little trick was something that was shared with me during my writing course with The Institute of Children’s Literature. If you have too many paragraphs that are the same size (or close to it) the human mind will grow bored and the reader will lose interest. They won’t know why they’ve lost interest, or why the story seems to drag, they’ll just drift away… No one wants that, right? So, here’s what you do…break up your paragraphs if you notice they’re all around the same length.

A good way to remember to do this is that there’s a rule where dialogue is supposed to start on a new line, although it’s not always done that way. If need be though, it’s a good rule of thumb to put action on one line and dialogue on the next.

I do this a lot when writing and editing.

NOTE: It is okay to put an action and dialogue on the same line, not starting a new line with speech, if it’s not messing with your pace and you like it that way. Just be aware of how you can fully benefit from either way before settling for one or the other.

I know what I’ve shared with you seem ‘simple’ and maybe have never occurred to you before, but I would encourage you to experiment with them and see how it can change the pace of your writing and the enjoyment of a reader.


©Rebecca Besser, 2011. All rights reserved.

It’s/Its Confusing – There/They’re/Their

One of the most common mistakes in writing is the use of it’s/its. Some people are confused as to what’s appropriate, and since it’s such a small word, it’s an easy accidental typo. Here’s a few tips and tricks on how to avoid this mistake.

It’s: the combination of ‘it’ and ‘is’, and only that combination. (Example: It’s hot outside today.)

Its: anytime ‘it is’ is not being combined; most commonly ‘its’ refers to an object. (Example: The flower is blooming, and its petal are a lovely red.)

When you reach your ‘editing faze’ with a story, do this simple trick to avoid the confusion of knowing which ‘its/it’s’ should be used. Think to yourself every time you see one: Would this be ‘it is’ if they weren’t joined? If they wouldn’t be ‘it is’ if separated, then you don’t need the ’.

Another common typo/misused word usage issue involves: there; they’re; and their. They all sound exactly the same, but mean completely different things.

There: a place (usually). (Example: They stood there looking at the painting.)

They’re: a combination of ‘they’ and ‘are’, and only that combination. (Example: They’re at the gallery.)

Their: possessive plural. (Example: Their feet were getting tired from walking all day.)

Again, editing… Look at your ‘there/they’re/their’ and see which one fits best. If it’s a combination of ‘they’ and ‘are’, than it’s an automatic ‘they’re’; if it’s a possessive plural, it’s ‘their’; and if it’s a place it’s ‘there’.

Being mindful of words that sound the same and mean different things causes them jump off the page at you, begging for correction. Be aware and learn of the differences – even go out of your way to learn them and their meanings so you can use them appropriately, because the English language is riddled with them.

Mistakes can be avoided with knowledge, so know your business as a writer – your business of words and how to use them!



©Rebecca Besser, 2011. All rights reserved.

Extras – A Marketing Tool

As an ‘extension’ of my Don’t Delete Me! – I’m Not Trash! post, I would like to share with you what those extra back stories and ‘chunks’ you’ve decided to cut from a novel can do for you.

Have you written a novel, and during the editing process cringed at the thought of doing away with some of your favorite parts? Or have some of your other, not so important, characters been whispering parts of their own history and back story in your ear?

There are ways you can use these inspirational trappings for your benefit, and even – possibly – increase the sales of your book.

Start a blog if you don’t already have one, arrange those ‘chunks’ of novel as an extra sneak peek into the book, or write those other little stories and post them. People who love your book, will love all the information that couldn’t be shared in a well designed novel.

What you’re essentially getting is extra marketing tools that can build fans for your writing and for the characters of your book – this is especially good if you plan to do a series. When readers get caught up in a series, they always want to know more, at least, I know I do!

If you’re planning to write a novel (or have already), you can REALLY make the extras work for you. Keeping in mind that you’ll be writing little side stories for your blog or some other marketing venue, you can have stronger threads of conflict and can weave a more intricate tale.

I’m not saying it would be easy, but that those things that tear at your heart, that you don’t want to cut out of your ‘great work’, can be used for a strong and creative purpose.

So, don’t delete them! Use the extras to sell you and your book, and let those characters really come to life, because you can tell their story too. 



©Rebecca Besser, 2011. All rights reserved.

Author Rebecca Besser's Blog