Sandra Gerth author of the Writer's Guides Series

How and why to avoid autonomous body parts in your writing

You have probably all experienced it: you’re reading a book—maybe a romance or a mystery novel—and suddenly, you grind to a halt and wonder where all these zombies are coming from. I’m talking about sentences like these: Her eyes followed Kathryn around the room. Her fist knocked on the door. He dropped his eyes to the floor. His arms wrapped around her hips. The wording of these sentences makes it appear as if the body parts take on a life of their own and act independently of the character. It can cause comical images to flash through readers’ minds and …

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Avoid filter words in your writing

If you’re anything like I am, you probably read a lot of books or blog posts about writing. One thing I rarely see mentioned anywhere are so-called filters, so I thought I’d blog about it today. Filters have to do with point of view. What is point of view? Basically, point of view is the “camera angle” from which we see the action when we read a book. Most romance novels are written in third-person limited POV—we witness everything through the eyes of one single character per scene. It’s called “limited” because we are limited to the mind of one …

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Building habits without losing your marbles

The new year is quickly approaching and with it the time to make New Year’s resolutions. Most writers I know, myself included, set goals for the new year. Several want to get into the habit of writing every day or meet a certain word-count goal each day in 2015. So, basically, they want to form better, more productive writing habits. Habits can be a wonderful thing for writers. They are things we do automatically, without thinking, so they no longer require so much mental effort. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could sit down and write every day, producing page …

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The best blogs for writers

If you’re a writer constantly trying to improve your writing skills, you probably subscribe to a few blogs about writing, publishing, and marketing your book. But time is limited, so you can’t read them all, and there are so many blogs on writing out there that it’s hard to know which ones are worth reading. I put together a list of my personal favorites. Here they are in alphabetical order: FICTION UNIVERSITY Janice Hardy’s great blog about writing is updated every day. JAMI GOLD When it comes to craft advice for writers, Jami Gold’s blog is probably my favorite. JANE …

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15 great gifts for writers

Just two more weeks until Christmas! If you haven’t yet done all your Christmas shopping for the writers in your life—or you want to get something cool for yourself—here’s my list of neat gift ideas for writers. #1 Fingerless gloves My hands get cold when I’m typing away at the keyboard, and I imagine other writers experience the same. Last year, I got a pair of fingerless gloves for Christmas. There are even writing gloves with literary motives. #2 Books on writing I know I have a couple of writing books on my wish list this year. If you have …

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How to improve your writing skills by listening to writing podcasts

Do you want to improve your writing skills but don’t have enough time to read blogs or books on writing? I certainly know how you feel. Sometimes, it’s hard to find enough time to write, much less stay up to date on the ever-changing publishing industry, marketing techniques, and writing tips. Here’s the solution: Listen to some of the increasing number of writing podcasts. You can listen to writing advice or industry news on your way to work, while you exercise, do laundry, or clean your house. Podcasts are an excellent way to turn wasted time into a learning experience, …

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Recommended books on writing

In my office, an entire bookcase is dedicated to books on writing. While you can’t learn writing just by reading a book about it, there are books that can help you plot your novel, create believable characters, revise your manuscript, and improve your writing skills. Since there are so many books on how to write a novel out there, it’s hard to know which ones to read. Maybe my list of personal favorites will help. BOOKS ABOUT WRITING IN GENERAL: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King Despite the title, this book doesn’t cover just self-editing; it …

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