Friday, December 19, 2014

Writing Smarter and Sharper by Elva Cobb Martin

I have started back through my historical novel, In a Pirate's Debt with a critiquer's eye. I made a list of things I need to watch for, items my good critique partners might point out. These cover areas beyond the basics.

And, like all good things, they do take time so pull over out of the traffic of your to do list today with me and get your pencil sharpened.
1) Delete/change too often used ing verb forms (being, having, walking) and avoid overuse of prepositional phrases. :
  The duck is holding up traffic walking across the road.
vs. A mama duck and ten ducklings strutted across the stacked four lanes and no one blew a horn.    

Getting involved with Travay could pose a threat to his      (Captain Bloodstone's) goal of finding out what happened to his captured parents.
      vs: He did not have time to get involved with her. He must pursue his goal. He must find out what had happened to his parents.

2) In deep POV don't say the character "heard, thought, wondered" anything. Just give the actual fact.

  She heard the boy call the pirate Captain Bloodstone.
  vs. The boy called him Captain Bloodstone.
(Of course, if you're looking into the face of Gerard Butler as Atilla, you won't be able to hear anything but your heart pounding against your ribs).

3) Avoid naming emotions, show them.

     He made her feel safe.
vs: She expelled a huge breath, her eyes locked on the source of relief.
     She was grateful for the rescue.
vs: Her eyes softened and filled with an inner glow when she looked up at him.

4) Keep all dialog, action, and thoughts of each character in
the same paragraph unless interrupted by other speaker.
(Which can happen. Particularly if the other person is holding something behind their back.)

5) Use contractions in dialog.

6) Ellipses: space-dot-space-dot-space-dot-space
    "But . . . Arundel!"
    "Could it possibly be that . . . ?" (fourth dot or question mark is end of sentence)  

7) Can't use description tags like the below in current POV to comment on something said.
    Lucas looked out to sea as if to end the conversation. 
    vs. Lucas looked out to sea and Thorpe sauntered away.

8) I am told we no longer indent the first sentence of a new chapter or a POV change. Center the 3 *** for POV changes.
Use center button, not space bar. Then temporarily drag paragraph indent marker to left to finish centering.

Have you got all this, Elizabeth? 

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have a good tip to add to my list? I would love to hear from you.

Have a blessed Christmas and Wonderful New Year-- my prayer for you.

Elva Cobb Martin