Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Common Writing No-Nos (of which I am guilty)

Oh, those tricky grammar rules. So many. And then there are rules for writing. So many. Plus, factor in the tendency to misuse grammar and writing rules. Realizing my tendency to choose the incorrect word, I watch for my errors knowing that I will find many. So many. 

This writer tends to fall in love with a word and use it too often. Just is one word I just can’t drop…until I force it out during revision. Diverse language adds voice to writing, taking it from a hum to a song. Using the same word repeatedly doesn’t cut it with readers. 

Clichés sneak into our prose and are as boring as Uncle Ned’s tenth retelling of his visit to the E.R. Surprise the reader with sensory descriptions as you write the unexpected. Boring as an old shoe or as watching paint dry adds no excitement to the storytelling because it’s expected.   

I also have a tendency to write sentences of mid-size length. During revision, I actually count the number of words in sentences, for picture books. Vary sentence length. The variety adds rhythm to the text and engages the reader.

I do the same with paragraph lengths. Paragraphs offer breaks in the text, but if all are the same length, that pattern may become boring and expected.

Action verbs help push the plot along. My goal is to provide the reader with visual images of action by using such verbs as slither, hop, scurry. In the first draft, I’m so busy writing character and plot development, non-action verbs—was, have, are, and is—make too many appearances. 

Spell-check catches some mistakes, but in-depth revisions elevate questionable writing to a reader pleaser. 


Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Stone Soup. We publish stories on all subjects—horses, dance, sports, problems at school, problems at home, magical places—and in all genres—literary fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, mystery—there is no limit to the subject matter of a Stone Soup story. What matters to us is not the subject. It is how interesting your story is to another reader. Does it have a strong beginning, middle, and end? If there is dialogue, is it realistic—is it the way people speak? If your story has talking animals, is there something about the way the animals think or move that feels true to that particular kind of animal?

We publish stories on all subjects—horses, dance, sports, problems at school, problems at home, magical places—and in all genres—literary fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, mystery—there is no limit to the subject matter of a Stone Soup story. What matters to us is not the subject. It is how interesting your story is to another reader. Does it have a strong beginning, middle, and end? If there is dialogue, is it realistic—is it the way people speak? If your story has talking animals, is there something about the way the animals think or move that feels true to that particular kind of animal?
Submission guidelines at https://stonesoup.com/how-to-submit-writing-and-art-to-stone-soup/
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers: 
Fun For Kidz is a magazine created for boys and girls from 6 to 13 years, with children 8, 9, and 10 the specific target age. Issues are themed. Genres: Nonfiction and fiction. Length: 300-325 words for a one-page magazine article or up to 600-650 words for a two-page magazine article.
Submission guidelines at http://funforkidzmagazines.com/ffk_guidelines
Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.
Leave a message or check out my blog at www.nancykellyallen.com

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