How to avoid overused body language in your writing

overused body language writing

Human communication is mostly nonverbal, so it makes sense to use plenty of body language, gestures, and facial expressions in our writing. Showing your characters’ emotions through their body language is also a wonderful way to avoid telling (More about showing vs. telling here). Instead of saying she was nervous, you could show her fiddling with her keys, for example. But if you use the same body language over and over again, readers will start to notice—and become bored. I’ve read manuscripts in which the characters seemed to smile fifteen times on each page. Or they nodded so often that …

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How to find and cut overused, repeated, and filler words from your writing

overused, repeated, and filler words

There are three kinds of words to keep an eye on during the revision process: filler words, overused words, and words that are repeated too close together.  Cutting out each of them will tighten your prose and make it more polished.   What are filler words, and why are they a problem? Filler words are unnecessary words that take up space without adding anything to the sentence. They slow down the pace of a scene and make reading seem like a chore. It might not seem so bad to use a filler word here and another one there, but the …

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The 3 different types of editing

types of editing and proofreading

In my last blog post, I explained why every writer needs an editor. But actually, you might need even more than one editor. There are different types of editing, and they are all very different skill sets, so it’s rare that one person can do all types of editing—and do them well. Ideally, your manuscript will undergo each type of editing in the following order: Content editors – plot, characters, and the writing craft The content editor (sometimes called substantive editor or developmental editor) deals with substantive revisions of the manuscript’s content and points out things such as plot holes, flat characters, pacing …

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Why do you need an editor?

why you need an editor

Editing is expensive, so some self-published authors and some small publishers try to cut costs by skipping the editing. Needless to say that’s a really bad idea. Why? After spending months or even years writing a story, you’re too close to it. You’re so familiar with the story that you don’t see its weak spots anymore. You read the story that you THINK you’ve written, not the one you actually wrote. What was clear in your head might not be so clear on the page. No one, not even someone who edits for a living, can view her own story …

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My writing guide “Point of View” is now available as a paperback

Point of View by Sandra Gerth

While I’m reading novels mostly as ebooks these days, I still prefer to buy the paperback versions when it comes to nonfiction. That way, I can highlight especially important sections and can keep a copy on my desk to look things up quickly.  If you are the same, I have good news for you: My writers’ guide Point of View: How to use the different POV types, avoid head-hopping, and choose the best point of view for your book is now available as a paperback too!  Point of view (POV) is one of the most powerful tools in a writer’s …

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12 tips on how to name your characters

how to name your characters

Naming your characters can be difficult since there are so many things to be taken into consideration when choosing character names. Here are 12 tips to help you find the perfect names for your characters: 1. Keep the time period of your story and your character’s age in mind. Names often go in and out of fashion. For example, Bertha was one of the top 10 most popular names for girls in 1880, so if you are writing a historical novel, it might be a good name for your heroine, but if you name a character Bertha in a contemporary …

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Review copies of “Goal Setting for Writers” available

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to set goals for your writing. To help you set and achieve your writing goals, I’m giving away five ebook copies of my book Goal Setting for Writers to anyone willing to read and review the book on Amazon. I’m asking for an honest review. It doesn’t have to be overly long–just a paragraph would be enough to help other interested readers find the book. Goal Setting for Writers is a book that will help you:  Learn the difference between dreams and goals, Turn your dreams into effective, realistic writing goals, …

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Get “Time Management for Writers” at a reduced price!

One of my writers’ guides, Show, Don’t Tell, recently made it to the very top of the Amazon bestseller list in its category (editing/writing references).  To celebrate, my publisher is now offering another one of my books, Time Management for Writers, at a reduced price.  If you are a writer who wants to find more time to write, write more, or maybe even write for a living one day, I think you will find this book extremely helpful.  You can get an ebook copy of Time Management for Writers for just 99 cents at Amazon. 

7 helpful considerations for choosing a point of view character

The most popular point of view (POV) in genres like romance novels is third-person limited POV with two or more point of view characters. That means that you’ll stick to the perspective of one character per scene (or even per chapter), but can switch to a new POV character between scenes (or chapters). For each scene, you have to decide on a POV character. Since readers will witness the scene through the eyes of the POV character, that’s a very important choice. How to choose the right point of view character for a scene Here are a few considerations that might …

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How to avoid head hopping and point of view violations

What’s point of view (POV)? Point of view (POV) is the perspective through which readers are viewing the story. Through whose eyes–and other senses–are readers experiencing the events of the story? What’s a POV violation? When you’re writing in third person limited POV, you are limited to one POV character per scene. You can’t write about things your POV character doesn’t see, hear, feel, or know. You can’t show us what’s going on behind your POV character or what the person on the other end of the phone line is doing while the POV character is talking to him or …

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