Sandra Gerth author of the Writer's Guides Series

4 Army Soldier Tips to Be a More Efficient Writer

I have a guest blogger today: Freelance writer Vicki Clain is sharing her tips on how to be a more efficient writer. Take it away, Vicki!  I’ve been working as a freelance writer for over five years now, and I went through several stages of polishing before I could actually make a living out of this. As a writer, you don’t just have to know how to put thoughts on paper and make them into interesting, enticing ideas; you also have to be fast, efficient, and reliable. These are the three elements any freelance writer must master before they can …

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5 Writing Lessons from The Walking Dead

The eighth season of The Walking Dead, one of the most successful television series of all time, starts tonight. I haven’t started watching The Walking Dead when it first began airing. A TV show about zombies stumbling around, craving brains, didn’t seem that original or that entertaining to me. But once friends talked me into watching, I got that The Walking Dead isn’t really about zombies. That’s just the background. At its core, it’s a show about human nature—about people and the choices they make while fighting for survival. And while it’s not always perfect, I think writers can learn …

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10 tips to prepare for NaNoWriMo

It’s the first of October today, which means that we have just one more month until NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins. What is NaNoWriMo? For those of you who haven’t heard of it before: NaNoWriMo is an international writing event that challenges you to write 50,000 words of fiction in November. How to win NaNoWriMo As someone who participated—and won—several times, I can tell you that when it comes to NaNoWriMo, preparation is the mother of victory. Here are 10 things you can do this month to prepare for NaNoWriMo: Clear your calendar as much as you can. Take …

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The 10 most common punctuation mistakes and how to avoid them in your writing

Today is National Punctuation Day, so I thought I’d celebrate by writing a blog post to help you avoid common punctuation mistakes in your writing. Punctuation mistakes might seem like a minor thing, but punctuation guides readers’ understanding and helps them read more smoothly. Sometimes, a single comma can even change the meaning of a sentence. So learning how to avoid these punctuation mistakes is definitely worth it, and it’ll make for a grateful editor too! 1. Don’t add commas wherever you pause to breathe in a sentence. I’ve heard that advice often, but it’s actually misleading. The rules are …

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How to write a great romance novel—the five core elements of romance novels

I recently read a review of my newest romance novel, Perfect Rhythm, which seemed to confirm the secret fear that has plagued me since I first set out to write that novel. While I think that in many ways, Perfect Rhythm is a typical “Jae” novel that has everything readers love about my books, it’s different from my other novels in one aspect: it’s featuring an asexual main character. A homoromantic asexual main character, to be exact. Holly is romantically drawn to women, but she doesn’t experience sexual attraction. She loves kissing and is a real cuddle bug, but even …

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Is third-person limited POV limiting?

Third-person limited is probably the most common point of view in contemporary genre fiction, yet as an editor, I have often worked with authors who struggle with this POV. What is third-person limited POV? In third-person limited POV, the story—or a part of it—is told from only one character’s perspective. It’s called a limited POV because you’re limited to accessing the mind of only one character at a time. You can tell your readers only what this character is feeling, thinking, and experiencing. If you reveal things that go on in the mind of another character, you are head hopping …

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Point of view in fiction

What is point of view? Point of view is the answer to the question “Who is telling us the story?” (or at least this scene). Are we watching everything from the outside, and a storyteller/author is telling the story? (= omniscient POV)? Or are we experiencing things through the senses of a character (might be first person POV, using “I”, or third person limited, using “she”)? POV is a continuum Many people see point of view as separate and distinct categories, but I personally think it’s more of a continuum. One dimension that defines POV is how much knowledge readers …

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6 tips for using dialogue tags

Dialogue is one of the most important parts of writing a novel or a short story, so every writer has to know how to use dialogue tags. What are dialogue tags? Dialogue tags are things like “Tina said” that tell us which character is speaking. How to use dialogue tags Here are a few dos and don’ts of dialogue tags. 1. Avoid using dialogue tags other than “said” and “asked” and maybe “answered.” “Said” really is the best tag because the reader is so used to it that she or he barely registers it. Other tags draw attention to themselves …

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How to use action beats in your writing

Have you ever stumbled over too many “he said” and “she said” in your story? One of the followers of my blog apparently encountered that problem, so he’s trying to cut down the number of dialogue tags by replacing it with character actions. But what’s the correct way to do that? Let’s step back and take a look at what dialogue tags and action beats are. What are dialogue tags? Dialogue tags, also called “speaker attributions,” serve to let readers know who’s speaking. Usually, you should use said because tags like muttered, quipped, grumbled, etc., are distracting and pull the …

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The golden rule of writing: Show, don’t tell

“Show, don’t tell” is probably the advice writers hear most often from editors and writing mentors. But many writers struggle to understand what it really means. “Telling” means you give readers your interpretations and conclusions, while “showing” means you provide readers with enough details and behaviors to let them draw their own conclusions. Example: TELLING: She was a shy woman who didn’t like being around too many people. SHOWING: She peeked around the corner and gulped at the sight of dozens of people mingling. Showing pulls readers into the story and keeps them active and involved. Telling makes them passive …

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