Thursday, January 5, 2017

Why You Should KILL Your Word Count

Many writers, myself included, get hung up on the word count of their stories. A full length novel is described as being around 80,000 words. So, that becomes the goal - putting 80,000 words on a page. But if you don't write 80,000 words of QUALITY CONTENT, then what you've really got is 60,000 words with 20,000 words of filler.

No one wants filler. Filler is the mystery meat in a hot dog. Filler is episode 14 of your favorite TV show where nothing from episode 13 is even mentioned. Filler is the vanilla in a Neapolitan ice cream when all you want is the chocolate and strawberry. Filler is bad. All it does is take up space.

A novel that is 60,000 words, without the filler is better than one that's 80,000 and jam-packed with mystery meat and useless vanilla ice cream. So how can you cut the fat?

1. Cut Dead Words: Words like very, just, then, up, down, really, very, ect... - If the sentence makes sense without it, then it doesn't need to be there. Cutting out dead words makes your writing more concise and allows your sentences to be more powerful. Aim for short, meaningful sentences.

2. Don't Filter Actions through Your Characters: This is common in third person narratives, but happens in first person stories as well. Don't say "Anita heard the loud boom of the fireworks," Say "The fireworks boomed in the sky." Not only will you use less words, but your scenes will be more powerful. Filtering should only be used when the author wants to shift POV to another character.

3. Stay Away from Purple Prose: Don't over-describe things, and don't describe unnecessary things. Descriptions that get too detailed can pull a reader out of the story. I don't want to read ten lines describing your character's outfit. Unless Sally's red dress is important to the plot you don't need to describe it at all.

4. Cut Your First Chapter: Maybe even the second one as well. It's common when starting a novel to write a lot of backstory - even unintentionally, at the very beginning. Does your book start with something mundane, like your character walking down the street or driving to work? Do you spend a few chapters introducing characters? Then slice and dice. Kill your darlings, forget your word count and be honest with yourself about where your novel really begins. You can sprinkle any important information throughout your story later on.

5. Cut Unnecessary Scenes: When you read over your novel think about each scene as you read it. Is that scene necessary for the story? Does it progress the plot or reveal something about one of your characters? If your story makes sense without it, then it has to go. Some scenes may be able to be combined together, while others should just be cut completely.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review for The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1) by Aimee Carter

3 Stars. A fun read, but not enough action and too little relationship development. I loved Kate in the beginning of this book. She was a tough young woman dealing with the responsibility of caring for her dying mother. She was so strong, but as the story went on I felt her character weakened some. I liked seeing her devotion to Henry (Hades) and they had a really interesting dynamic. He was very distant and protective and she was always trying to get him to open up. But, I don’t think Aimee Carter did a good enough job of explaining why Kate was so into him. I admired Kate’s dedication to the goddess test, but I didn’t see enough of why she fell for Henry.
I wanted to know a little more about who Henry was. For a good chunk of the book the only thing the reader, or Kate, knew about him was that he was old, honest and attractive. And, while those were all great traits, I wanted more. As the story goes on Henry and Kate started spending more time together, but I wish we’d gotten to see more of it. I never really felt a strong spark between them.
Also, this book it set up with a twist. And, it was a good twist. I didn’t see it coming, but the way the story is set up makes parts of the plot drag because you don’t understand how important certain small moments are until the end. <spoiler>You don’t find out who the gods are or what the tests were until the very end. It was a nice twist, but it made the plot drag. I spent a lot of time waiting for Kate to take a test just to find out she’d been taking them all along. </spoiler> I also felt like the tension in the story could have been upped a bit. It’s mentioned a number of times that it may be dangerous for Kate to stay with Henry as someone has been killing all the girls Henry bring to take the test. I would have liked to have seen a few more attempts on her life.
Overall it was an enjoyable read, and I’ll give the sequel a shot.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Returning from Hiatus

It's been over a year since my last blog post. I can't believe that much time has gone by, but the good news is that my life has finally settled down to the point where I think I'm ready to jump back into my writing - not that I ever completely stopped. The wedding is over, my major home repairs are finished, and I've put my masters degree on hold (possibly permanently). I've been going a little crazy being away from this world for so long, and I can't wait to get back at it.

So, what can you expect from me now that writing and blogging are back on my regular "to-do" list?

First, Unearthed After Sunset is on it's way! It will still be another few months before it's published, and I'm not ready to set a release date yet, but the end is in sight. It has also gone through some major revisions, and I'm getting really excited to publish it.

Second, I'm going to be blogging regularly again. I may not have been very active on social media over the last year, but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading. I have a stack of book reviews to post. I also have some blog post ideas and I'm going to work on getting back to a regular posting schedule. You can expect to see a new post from me every other week from here out (hopefully I'll get back to once a week soon).

Finally, my blog and all of my social media outlets have gotten a make over! Expect to see more revisions and new elements in the near future. I'm hoping to have an official website up and running before I publish my next book.

So, stay tuned, there's more to come.

I will be posting every other week on Thursdays!