Mar 12

Tips on How to Write Out a Word You Don’t Know

It’s most likely happened to everyone. You’re thinking of a word, but you’re just not sure how to spell it. And, your not even getting close enough for your Word program to give you suggestions.

Since this is a common occurrence, Hubspot decided to put together an infographic full of tips. And, since those who visit this site are writers or wannabe writers, I thought it might be helpful.

spelling-words-infographic

So, what do you think. Helpful or not? I’d appreciate knowing.

Writing for children tipsWriting a Book – To Traditionally Publish or To Self-Publish
Self-Publishing: 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’
Writing with Clarity

Lets talk about your childrens writing projectLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Jul 17

Self-Publishing: 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’

(What’Writing and the I Want It Now syndromes a ‘Wannabe’ Author to Do?)

Self-publishing is a ship everyone wants to sail on. And, for good reason. This publishing avenue is quick and cheap.

Yes, self-publishing is fast. There’s no more submitting to a publisher or multiple publishers and waiting for (possibly) months for a response. Will they accept your manuscript that you’ve been working on for months, maybe years? Or, will they send you a generic standard rejection letter? Either way, the time waiting for an acceptance or rejection isn’t fun. With self-publishing, as soon as your manuscript is ready to go, it goes.

There are lots and lots of places to publish an ebook. And, you can publish with more than one service. And, you can sell that ebook right from your own site. That’s pretty convenient.

In addition to being a quick process, ebooks are cheap to create and publish. If you do everything yourself (aside from editing), it will cost nothing. In the event you need help, services like Fiverr have people who will help you for a very, very reasonable price.

But . . .

While it’s obvious to see the benefits to self-publishing, these benefits have one drawback in particular: everyone thinks they can write a book and self-publish it, whether or not they have the skills to write a book and whether or not it’s a quality product.

Part of the problem, possibly the main problem, is the ‘I want it now’ syndrome that self-publishing lends itself to. New authors don’t want to take the longer ‘proven’ road of learning the craft of writing and having their manuscript edited before publishing.

This ‘problem’ does all authors a disservice. It lessens the validity of self-published books as a whole. Readers (buyers) never know if the book they’re buying was done professionally or if it was carelessly slapped together.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, there are three basic strategies to use when thinking of writing a book and self-publishing:

1. Learn the craft of writing.

The first thing a ‘wannabe’ author needs to do is learn the craft of writing. This isn’t to say you must get a MFA, but you should take writing courses. There are some online courses that are free. And, you should belong to writing groups.

Along with this, you should actually be writing. Practice does make better.

Finally, you’ve got to read and read and read in the genre you want to write and in lots of other genres also. You especially want to read recently traditionally published books.

This will help you get an idea of what publishers are looking for, what quality work is being published, and how it’s written.

2. Join a critique group.

The second thing is for the author to join a genre appropriate critique group. Having your manuscript critiqued by others helps with grammar, clarity, story line, characters . . . you get the idea. Critique groups help you write your book. Those extra eyes will catch things in your manuscript that you glaze over.

3. Hire an editor.

The third thing the author should do, after the manuscript is as ‘good’ as she can get it, is to find a reputable editor and have it edited. It’s easy for an author to think she’s found all the errors in her manuscript, but in actuality, this is almost impossible to do. As the author, you’re much too close to the work to see it fresh and with unbiased eyes.

Self-publishing is an amazing opportunity for authors, but it needs to be done responsibly. Authors need to take the readers and the industry into consideration when venturing into it.

Instead of being one of the “I want it now” authors, be one of the ‘I want it, but am willing to work toward it’ authors.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Focus, Determination, and Perseverance = Writing Success
4 Realities New Writers Need to Face
The One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript
How Do You Build a Successful Writing Career? (3 Tips)

This article was originally published by Karen Cioffi at:
http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2013/07/self-publishing-3-tips-to-help-you.html

Jul 10

Writing with Clarity

How to write with clarity.Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines clarity as lucidity, clearness of thought.

Writing with clarity can be a difficult aspect of writing. There isn’t a GPS for clarity. And, no matter how clear we think we are conveying a particular sentence, paragraph, or theme, we may not be able to see that we’ve missed the clarity mark.

How does this happen?

Missing the clarity mark may happen even if you have clearness of thought; if that clearness of thought or intent doesn’t translate onto paper, you’ve missed the mark.

As the author, we know what we’re thinking, what motives are involved, what we assume the reader should be seeing, or understanding—this knowledge may cloud our perception of what we are actually conveying. This clarity cloud can at times create a gap between what we think we’re saying and what we actually say. This happens because we are too close to our own writing.

Think of a color. Now, think of a very specific hue or shade within that color. Now, try to write what you see or explain it.

This is what can happen with our story. We can see what’s unfolding clear as day, the scene, the characters . . . the intent. But, our vision may not translate with clarity onto paper. We may think it has because of our preconception, but that doesn’t mean it actually has.

An example of this is a children’s picture book I reviewed. The content and illustrations were well done, but there was one problem. The story ultimately was about the main character having to go through a metamorphosis in order to be accepted by others. This is what a reader, a child, might take away from the story. While the story had a number of good points, this one flaw was problematic. The authors knew what they intended, but that intent didn’t show through. And, because they were so sure of their intent, they couldn’t see that the take away value of the story could be anything but what they intended.

Fortunately, there is help in this area: a critique group. Every writer who is writing a manuscript should belong to a critique group. Having three, six, or ten other writers, who write in the same genre, will help you find many of the pitfalls in your story. They are the unknowing audience. They have no perceived conception of your story, so they will be able to see where it goes astray and where it lacks clarity.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing Rhyme in Children’s Stories
The Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?
Getting to Know Your Characters

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

This article was originally published by Karen Cioffi at:
http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2010/11/writing-with-clarity.html

Dec 27

The Outlining Method of Writing (Are You an Outliner?)

The outline method of writingAre you an outliner or a pantser? I don’t know if there has been a study of how many writers prefer each, but I know there are many in both camps. You know the saying, “different strokes for different folks.”

But, before I go on, the definition of an outliner is a writer who creates a written (or typed) outline of the plot of their story. A pantser is a writer who creates the story as she goes along – no outline. The story unfolds as she is writing it.

If I had to take a guess though, I’d say the majority of writers/authors are outliners (plotters).

The reason?

Creating an outline of a story before delving into it provides a foundation. It’s something to build upon. It’s like a map. You mark out your driving route. You know you’re going from Point A to Point B. You see the highways, roads, and so on between those two points. And, they’re all written out in your outline.

It’s interesting to know that there are different kinds of outliners. Some create full detailed accounts of getting from Point A to Point B. Some simply have a rough outline of what the story will be about – possibly that John is at A and has to get to B.

Jeff Ayers (a top crime writer), in his article “Doing What He Loves,” in the May 2009 issue of the Writer, says:

Outlining allows me time to think. Does this ever happen to you–you’re in line at the market, some pushy person cuts in front of you, you mumble something ineffectual or stupid, then when you’re 10 blocks away the light bulb goes off, and you think “That’s what I shouda said!” Well, outlining gives me the 10 blocks to think of something better.

I think this is an excellent explanation of why writers use the outline method of writing.

In the article, Ayers explains that he spends lots of time outlining. In addition to coming up with ideas, it allows him to get better acquainted with his characters. This more intimate knowledge allows him to bring them to life.

As I mentioned earlier, outlining is like using a map. But, depending on how detailed you make your outline, it can be more like a GPS. It can lead you street by street from your starting point to your ending point.

Even if you run into a detour that was unexpected, as in writing can happen, you have a guided system in place to get you back on track. And, if it’s very, very detailed, you even know where the rest stops are, where to eat, where the scenic sites are, and so on. It doesn’t leave much to chance.

Knowing every step, every detour, all the characters . . . there is a comfort in this method.

I’m much more of a pantser, but I have used outlines now and then. And, it certainly does offer a sense of security. But, with that said, I love to watch my story unravel before me. I love to watch characters develop and move forward. This comes with the pantser method.

It seems though that no matter which style you use, it’s not a guarantee of success or failure.

Gail Carson Levine has some good advice in regard to this, “Quality comes from word choice, plot, characters – all the elements [of a good story].”

Which writing method do you use?

~~~~~~~~~
Reference:
Outlining vs. Pantsing

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

The Book Summary – Five Must-Know Components
Finding Age Appropriate Words When Writing For Children
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

Sep 14

Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors

Children's writing self-editing tipsYou’ve been working on your story for a while now and you think it’s just about done. It’s been critiqued numerous times and you revised it numerous times. Now, it’s time for editing. This entails proofreading and self-editing. You don’t want to short-change yourself on the last stretch, so get ready to put the final layers of polish on your manuscript.

While this article is geared toward children’s writers, it has information for just about all writers.

Here are 10 tips you can use to help fine-tune your children’s manuscript:

1. Check for Clarity

Check each sentence for clarity. It’s important to remember that you may know what you intend to convey, but your readers may not. It’d be a good idea to have someone else read the manuscript for you. This is where a good critique group comes in handy.

2. Check for “Telling” and lackluster sentences

Check each sentence for telling. While you will need some effective telling, you want to have more showing.

Example: Joe hit his head and was dazed.
Alternative: Joe banged his head against the tree. He wobbled a moment and fell to the ground.

Show, don’t tell. Use your imagination and picture your character going through motions—maybe he’s turning his lip up, or he’s cocking his head. Try to visualize it; this will help in showing rather than telling.

A good way to add more showing is to add more sensory details. Use the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) to create a living character; this will help breathe life into your story.

Example: Joe felt cold.
Alternative: A chill ran through Joe’s body.

Example: Joe was frightened.
Alternative: Joe’s breath stopped. Goosebumps made the hair on his arms stand at attention.

3. Watch for head hopping

Checking for head hopping is especially important for children’s writers since their stories should be told from the protagonist’s point of view or perspective.

If the story is being told from your main character’s point of view (POV) make sure it stays there.

If my POV character Joe is sad and wearing a frown, it wouldn’t be advisable to say: Noticing his sad face Fran immediately knew Joe was distraught. This is bringing Fran’s POV into the picture.

You might say: Joe knew Fran would immediately notice his despair; they were friends for so long.

Or, you can just use dialogue: “Joe, what’s wrong?”

4. Watch for story consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow

Checking for consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow is another must for all writers of fiction. If you’re a children’s writer it’s even more important. Children need a structured story that’s consistent. The story also needs to provide conflict and action to keep the child engaged, along with clarity to help with comprehension. It should also flow smoothly with one paragraph, chapter moving seamlessly into the next.

5. Use spell-check

Make sure you write with spell-check on or use your word processor’s spell-check when you’re finished with your manuscript. I like writing with it on.

Just be careful here because while spell-check will catch misspelled words it won’t catch words that are spelled correct, but are the incorrect word in regard to meaning.

Example: He was to tired.
Correct: He was too tired.

These words are called homonyms and spell-check will not catch them.

A homonym is a word that sounds like another word, but is spelled different and has a different meaning. Examples of homonyms are: hare/here/hair; bare/bear/; stationary/stationery; peek/peak; principle/principal; capital/capitol; compliments/complements; cite/site/sight.

6. Use the FIND function on your word processor

This is a great tool to check for “ly” words, “ing” words, weak verbs, and over used words such as “was.”

7. Watch for redundancy

Check the story for repeated phrasing and even paragraph beginnings. You don’t want several paragraphs in a row beginning with “the” or other repetitive wording. When editing your manuscript use the Find function in your word program and look for overused words.

Another aspect of redundancy is using unnecessary words.

Example: Sit down on the chair.
The word ‘down’ is redundant; ‘sit’ implies down.

Example: She whispered quietly.
The word ‘whispered’ is redundant.

8. Check for tight writing

In today’s market, tight writing is important—readers have a shorter attention span. So, get rid of unnecessary words and text.

Example: Joe had a really hard time lifting the very heavy and big trunk.
Alternative: Joe struggled to lift the huge trunk.

Also, watch for words such as “began” and “started.”

Example: He began to lift the trunk.
Alternative: He lifted the trunk.

9. Check for punctuation and grammar

There are a number of great books and even online articles that will help you learn proper punctuation and grammar. Two books that I use are: The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard Johnson and The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek.

You can also do a Google search.

10. Take illustrations into account

When writing a picture book you need to allow for illustrations. Picture books are a marriage between content and illustrations—a 50/50 deal. So, watch for text that an illustration can handle. With picture books your content doesn’t have to describe every little detail—the illustrations will embellish the story.

Well, this completes the 10 tips, but please know that self-editing is a tricky business and this is not an all inclusive list. Even knowing all the obstacles to watch out for, self-editing is still tricky. It’s almost impossible for us writers to catch all our own errors; we’re much too close to our work. We know every nook and cranny of the story and that makes it difficult to read it in a fresh manner. Even if we think we’re reading every word, our mind is way ahead of us, that’s why it’s advisable to look into hiring an editor.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put ‘Children’s Writing Help’ in the Subject line)

MORE ON WRITING

Become an Author – 5 Basic Rules
Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips
Characters or Story – Which Comes First?

This article was originally published by Karen Cioffi at:
http://www.writersonthemove.com/2011/08/self-editing-10-tips-checklist-for.html