Nancy's Books

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ways to Improve Writing

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing” and focusing on character emotions.
Think of your characters as real people, and like people, some display emotions more easily than others and in different ways. One character may be more verbal and another more physical (hits the wall with a fist.)
The next time you get angry or frustrated or extremely worried, try writing your feelings. Use your anger or anxiousness in a scene to show the character’s emotional “truth.”
Rather than telling how the character felt (Jill was angry) or writing a weak adverb in a dialog tag such as “she shouted angrily,” use strong verbs to convey emotions.
“Shut up. Just shut up,” she said as she stomped out and slammed the door behind her.” This works better because the reader is involved in the action as it is happening and through the use of a strong verb, slammed. The physical cues clue the reader in on what the character’s anger looks like.
When we are extremely upset, our body and hand movements can be jerky and more expressive. Consider using facial expressions to show emotions. A narrowing of the eyes, puffed cheeks, face in a wad, and with kids—sticking out a tongue.
Anger is an interesting emotion. It’s a part of every human so don’t be afraid to let anger energize your character.
Call for submissions for Young Writers:
7th Annual Junior Authors Short Story Writing Contest
Ages 9 to 21 | All Countries | Free to Enter
Entries accepted in June only (June 1 – 30)
Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for Adult Writers:


Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop. (For a complete list of workshops, visit
*Entrants must be at least 16 years old at the time of submission.
We welcome work from both published and unpublished authors. All submissions must be previously unpublished and not found online.
Stories may be any length up to 750 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.
No crime, violence, or derogatory humor.
Entries not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope will not be returned.
Manuscripts or envelopes should be clearly marked FICTION CONTEST. Those not marked in this way will be considered as regular submissions to Highlights.
Highlights for Children
803 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
Deadline:  January 31, 2015.


  1. Good reminders in this post. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Rosi. Hope your had wonderful holidays and ready to burst forth with new writing in 2015. I've been working on two picture books and have ideas for two more. Finishing a revision on a chapter book, too. Let's make this year a wild ride in writing.

    What are your working on? If you have a question about writing, pass it along, and I'll feature your question on a blog.