Sunday, October 28, 2012

Writing Tips - Self-Editing and Repetition by Stephanie Burkhart

Learning to self-edit is never easy. There's so many different angles and elements to keep in mind. Repetition is one of them.

I'll be honest – after I finish my first draft and I start to tackle my editing, I discover a bunch of repetition. It ranges from using a certain word 3 times in a paragraph. (for example, door) to using a phrase several times in the span of 2-3 pages. (for example: she nodded) to using brand name like "Rolex," and "Mercedes" over and over.

It's time to find another word.

When a writer is writing, it's easy to become repetitive because you're so close to the material. Instead of intensifying the effect you want, you usually come off as condescending to the reader.

What can you do to be on guard? One idea is put the manuscript down for a little bit and don't think about it. Some writers wait 48 hours, some a week, some a month. The goal is to have a fresh set of eyes when you pick the story back up. Usually the repetitive word/phrase/brand sticks out. It tends to be easier to find and fix.

We all have our "catch phrases" and quirks so being mindful of them helps to catch the repetition and fix it.

There's another repetition that's good, if used appropriately, involving character traits. For example, when your character is worried, they might rub their temple. When they are upset, their stomach might tighten with knots.

I'd love to hear your questions, comments, thoughts, and suggestions. What works for you?

Reference for this blog: Self-editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, Harper Collins Publishers, ISBN: 0-06-54569-0, 2004, 280 pages.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. In 1986 she joined the U.S. Army and served 7 years overseas in Germany. In 1997, she left the service and settled in Castaic, CA. She now works for LAPD as a 911 Dispatcher. Her current titles with 4RV Publishing are The Giving Meadow and First Flag of New Hampshire. She married with two sons, ten and six. Her website is:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saying Good-bye to Your Baby

by Katie Hines

We took our youngest daughter to college. We packed up her clothes, her bedding, her art supplies (she's an interior design major), and a bunch of this and that and headed down the road. It was really tough on me. When our oldest moved out, it was hard, but not as hard as this time because our daughter is going to college three hours away, while our oldest lives down the road.

I have to admit I cried when we left her, and then again that night while waiting to go to sleep. I'm sure that being empty-nesters is going to appeal to me, but maybe not today.

The grief I experienced was not because of the days she's been gone, but because of the days she will be gone. Never again will we enjoy her living here for a long period of time. Our little bird has flown from the nest, and doggone but she seemed happy to go!

When I got to thinking about it, I realized that she was confident to leave the nest because we had created a sense of security for her as she grew up. So we did it right!

What does this have to do with writing? Well, when our novel (our baby) is ready to be pushed out of the nest, sometimes we're not as ready for it to go as it is. Case in point. My book, Guardian. It needed to leave the nest. I had edited it out the wazoo, and was hanging on to it when I should have let it go. It has since been published. If I had held on to the book, like I wanted to my daughter, it would never have found a new home, and I would have kept it due to an emotional attachment and (let’s be honest here) a bit of fear, resulting in a reluctance to push it out.

The tears? Well, they came too because I got a book contract. So there is joy in being an empty nester. You just have to have the right perspective and be willing to say "good-bye" to your baby.

Katie Hines is the author of Guardian, a middle grade urban fantasy, published by 4RV Publishing.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Marketing and Promotion - Are They the Same Process?

Marketing and Promotion - Are They the Same Process?

By Karen Cioffi notes that both words, marketing and promotion (the terms, or the present day meaning), came into existence around the 15th and 16th centuries. Interestingly, although both marketing and promotion seem to be used in place of each other, and marketing is regularly used in place of promotion, they are separate processes. Well to be more clear, promotion is a process under the marketing umbrella.

Marketing, according to is a "management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer. As a philosophy, it is based on thinking about the business in terms of customer needs and their satisfaction. As a practice, it consists in coordination of four elements called 4P's: (1) identification, selection, and development of a product, (2) determination of its price, (3) selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer’s place, and (4) development and implementation of a promotional strategy."

So, marketing is taking your product from the idea to the sale. While you may not think that marketing is necessary in the idea stage of a product, think again. If you don’t produce a product that your target market will be interested in, you most probably will not get to the “sale’ stage. This means the product will need to be saleable in every aspect, from the product itself, or in a writer’s field, its content, to the package, price, and distribution. All this takes marketing research.

Promotion on the other hand is the marketing process of bringing your product or service to the attention of your target market. Promotion encompasses the needed strategies for actually selling your product. Promotion is done through publicity and advertising – in essence, through visibility.

Visibility (promotion) can be done using social networking, taking advantage of social media services/sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Digg. It can also be accomplished through traditional promotional techniques, such as ads, business cards, and flyers, as well as through inbound (organic) promotional strategies: providing valuable blog and article content, reports, e-books, and newsletters.

Organic promotional strategies are those that bring visibility to your product/service through processes mentioned above such as blog and article content (article marketing). This type of promotion may take a bit of time to establish, and involves work, but its long-term benefits will be worth the time and effort. This type of promotion creates trust and reliability. You will develop a relationship with the potential customer/reader. She will come to value the information you provide, and look forward to it. defines organic traffic as: "traffic that comes to your Web site naturally and without being driven there by a specific marketing campaign. In essence, Web site visitors are there because they found the site and thought it had something they wanted. And like anything organic, organic traffic isn’t there instantly; it takes time and nurturing to grow into something healthy and with longevity."

Bottom line, no matter what you call it, it takes time and effort to drive traffic to your site.

Boost your writing and marketing efforts with Karen Cioffi. Visit and find out why you should sign up for her FREE newsletter, The Writing World.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Yea! Another Book Honor for Walking Through Walls

posted by Vivian Zabel

      The winners of the Children's Literary Classics Awards were announced. 4RV book Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi and illustrated by Aidana WillowRaven received a Silver seal in Preteen Fiction.  

       First, Literary Classics awarded Walking Through Walls with a Seal of Approval. Then the book reached the finals. Finally, it received the Silver seal.

       Congratulations, ladies, for a job well done.

Poster created by Aidana WillowRaven
        Walking Through Walls can be found on most online bookstores, brick and mortar stores, and 4RV Publishing Bookstore.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

12 Steps to Get Past Disappointment

 "12 Steps to Get Past Disappointment" by Joan Y. Edwards

At times it is difficult to get over disappointing news. You get frustrated with yourself. You are short-tempered with friends and family. You can’t see things clearly. Instead of a rosy situation, like you planned, it was a lousy, awful, humiliating, and embarrassing situation.

Instead of winning, you lost 55-0. Instead of getting the raise, you got fired. Instead of getting a job after 30 applications, you were turned down. You wish it hadn’t happened. You feel disappointed.

Disappointment is anger, sadness, and resentment all dumped together at one time.

How You Might Behave When You Are Disappointed

1. You think it didn’t really happen. You block it out.
2. You blame it on anyone and everyone that you have ever known.
3. You proclaim to the whole world that it’s not fair.
4. You tell the world that this particular experience wasn’t supposed to happen. The plans in your mind never wandered down this road of possibility.
5. You might even tell the world that you knew all the time that this was going to happen. You were afraid of this particular thing. It turned out exactly how you feared it would.

Twelve Steps to Get Past Your Disappointment

1. Accept that it happened, exactly like it did.

2. Take a walk or do other exercise.

3. Accept that there’s nothing you can do to change the fact that it happened. Pray that God give you peace about it and show you what to do.

4. Be thankful that something worse didn’t happen. Be thankful for all the good things in your life. Realize that you did the best you could with the information, feelings, and knowledge you had.

5. Think through what you can do to prevent something similar from happening again. If another person’s decision, disappointed you, realize that you are not in charge of other people’s decisions. The only person you are in charge of is yourself. If your own behavior disappointed you, realize that no one’s perfect. Educate, inspire, and empower yourself. Know that you can figure out a better way of handling this emotionally. Respect and honor yourself.

6. Accept that even with the best planning in the world, it could happen again. However, if it does, you will survive. You will be fine. If you resist it and are extremely afraid of this happening again, you are increasing the chances of the situation repeating itself. What you fear, you make appear.

7. Focus on what you want. Change fearful thoughts. Think about what you want.

8. Talk with someone who is a good listener. Someone who won’t escalate your anger. Someone who won’t blame you or lay out a million reasons why you were at fault. Talk with someone who will empower you to find your solutions. Someone who believes you can figure this out. Someone who might offer possibilities. Someone who will help you brainstorm possibilities. Focus on the solutions in your mind.

9. Visualize yourself being okay.

10. Write down the steps that will keep this from happening again.

11. Take positive action. Do something you feel will lead toward a solution. Do something that will help you prevent this from happening again.

12. Find humor in what happened. Watch a funny movie. Read a funny book. Write about it as if a famous comedian were telling the story. If you can’t find humor in the situation, go ahead and cry. Crying is healing. It will level your emotions. Then you will be able to think clearly. When you can laugh about it, it means that you have let it go.

What do you do to get over disappointment? Please share ideas that work for you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Help your designer finish that layout faster.

by Aidana WillowRaven

Some of the biggest reasons a designer seemingly takes forever to design the interior pages of your book:

Using the space bar rather than 'Tab':
When the designer imports your edited, ready for layout, Word document into InDesign, one of the first things he/she does is reset the paragraph settings and margins to fit print parameters. Next, overall font is changed and line spacing is decided. These steps are rather simple and can be done to to entire document for all of its pages, whether there be 30 or 300. The following step usually involves details. Like how far down from the top of the page will the text start and the size of the paragraph indents. 

If the manuscript was set up properly by the author, the tab already embedded and adjusting the tab setting in ID is a matter of one click. If the document wasn't typed correctly, and the space bar was used to indent paragraphs, vs the tab key, then the designer will have to go from paragraph to paragraph removing each individual space. The designer can't use the find/change tool, because spaces are supposed to occur throughout the story between words and sentences. The computer can't recognize a space that is supposed to be there as opposed to one that isn't, so it must be done manually.

Not a issue for a picture book. A big issue for a novel. The 300 page book, one-two day project just turned into a week long project.

Double spacing after punctuation:
Not a huge problem, but still an added step and easily missed by the designer, is double spacing after punctuation. This little flaw, left over from the days of typing class and electric type writers, can create unnecessary gaps and orphans. Keep in mind, every step that can be avoided helps get the book done much faster.

Altering how time lapses are shown:
Like the chapter heading isuue, changing how you represent gaps in time can be frustratuing for a designer. Are you using extra blank lines? Maybe a blank line, and asterisk or five, pound signs? However you do it, be consistent throughout. Odds are the house has a set format they use, but the designer needs to be able to determine the extra lines are deliberate and not an error. Remember, the designer doesn't have time to read the book, he/she is roboticly arranging text. A line here or there may be read, but don't rely on the designer to understand your blank line represents anything other than you accidentally hitting enter twice.

Not making format oddities noticeable:
Does your manuscript have a note described in the text, or a sign, or a song sung, or a poem? The designer needs to somehow see a change in format is needed. Again, he/she is not reading, so the designer will not know to treat this text special unless you alert he/she to it.

Changing chapter heading format:
Another troublesome habit that authors often don't realize they do is change how they introduce a new chapter. For example: Ch 1, Chapter 1, Chapter One, CHAPTER I, etc. Again, it may seem trivial, but each heading would need to be re-formatted and or typed. Sometimes, authors even bounce from bold, to regular, to italicized. If you wish to make the designer's job faster/simpler, try to be aware of how you want your chapters to look, make note of it somewhere, and be sure to repeat it as you go. Remember, every step helps.

Trying to re-write your manuscript:
The biggest, most distressing thing you can do to a designer is re-write more than a paragraph or two during copy edit. Whether the house has a separate copy editor or the designer does it with the help of the author and editors, the designer ultimately has to make the corrections. By the time a manuscript makes it to layout and copy edit, there should only be minor changes needed. A misspelled word here and there, orphans created by the altered margins, hyphenated proper nouns, etc.

If the manuscript needs re-written and re-edited, correcting the layout is no longer an option. The designer will have to re-design from the start, setting the project back by potentially weeks.

Your best bet as an author is to be aware of the house's requirements, to follow them, and do what you can to save time for the designer. He/She wants a great book, too.

Art Director & VP of Operations

Friday, October 12, 2012

Another award for a 4RV book

posted by Vivian Zabel  

          I received an email from Tony LoPresti, who felt sad because other 4RV books received awards, but not his. Wednesday, his sadness turned to smiles, well, maybe to cheers.

           My Cat by Tony LoPresti, illustrated by Deborah C. Johnson, received a Certificate of Excellence from Cat Writer's Association in Books for Children category. It is now a finalist for the CWA Muse Medallion and is up for two special awards which will be announced at the CWA Awards Banquet November 3 in L.A.

          Wonder who plans on a trip to Los Angeles in three and a half weeks?

          Congratulations, Tony and Deb. Welcome to the lists of award winners from 4RV Publishing. We are proud of you.

Note: My Cat and other 4RV books are now on sale. See the 4RV Bookstore.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Benefit of Telling

The Benefit of Telling

by Suzanne Young Cordatos

Writers hear it often: Show, don’t tell.

I am not going to argue with that sage advice. I want to ask: Do you tell people that you are a writer?

Do you say it confidently? Apologetically? Like your lunch is stuck in your throat?

A friend once confided that her husband believed she was having an affair—until she confessed her secret habit. Writing!

I used to keep writing a secret, too.
Bottled up, writing was a genie in the corner of my soul—released only when I was left alone for great gobs of time. I used to hide notebooks in the bathroom cupboard for middle of the night urges—of the writing muse kind. I used to tell myself I would free the genie “someday” when I made it big. 

Stephen King, Jackie Collins, J.K. Rowling BIG. Until then, what was the point of baring my soul?

Not anymore. “Someday” is a faraway land that doesn't exist. Now exists. Today exists. If you are writing today, say it out loud. Now! “I AM A WRITER.” Your writing will grow wings.

Benefits of telling:

            Say those four words with confidence.
            Write more often, now that you do it openly!
Seek out writing connections every time you leave the house.
Join national associations; they exist for nearly every genre.
Attend regional conferences
Receive help from local critique groups.
Contribute to local critique groups.
Foster writing friends, as close as neighbors. The “You write? So do I!” is bonding excitement.
Enter contests and improve your chances to occasionally place—or even win.
Your family may surprise you and take your goals seriously.
Long-term networking efforts will pay off when it comes time to promote your work!

Let me know in the comments how sharing has affected your work!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Writing in Rhyme

Writing in Rhyme 

By Karen Cioffi

Rhyming, when done right, is a wonderful way to engage children. Children, as soon as they’re able, love to rhyme words . . . and this can begin as early as two-years-old: cat-hat, mouse-house. But, to write a rhyming story . . . a well written rhyming story . . . is difficult; you need a good story, rhyme, rhythm/beat, meter, stresses, and more—all this in addition to the already unique rules and tricks in writing for children. And, some writers just don’t have that innate ability to do rhyme well. But, it can be learned.

According to Delia Marshall Turner, Ph.D., the elements of poetry are: voice; stanza; sound; rhythm; figures of speech; and form.

Voice (the speaker)
Stanza (the format of lines grouped together)
Sound (rhyme and other patterns)
Rhythm (the beat and meter – the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables)
Figures of Speech (types of figurative language)
Form (the type of poem, its design)

Along with this there is perfect rhyme, and approximate rhyme:

Perfect rhyme: tie/lie; stay/day
Approximate rhyme: top/cope; comb/tomb

And, there are many more bits and pieces that go into writing poetry/ rhyme. But, the foundation that holds your rhyming story all together is the story itself—you need a good story, especially when writing for children.

According to the article, “To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme” by Dori Chaconas, in the Writer Magazine, October 2001: “You may write in perfect rhyme, with perfect rhythm, but if your piece lacks the elements of a good story, your efforts will be all fluff without substance. I like to think of story as the key element, and if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme, the rhyme will then enhance the story.”

This is a wonderful explanation because it mentions “if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme.” This means that not all stories will work in rhyme, and the writer needs to know whether his will or will not.

So, if you’re interested in writing in rhyme, there are a number of sites and articles online that can help, there are also books available, and classes you can take. Do a Google search for the tools that are right for you.

Boost your writing and marketing efforts with Karen Cioffi. Visit and find out why you should sign up for her FREE newsletter, The Writing World.

Friday, October 5, 2012

More honors for 4RV books

by Vivian Zabel  

          A short time ago, we heard that Porcupine's Seeds, by Viji K Chary and illustrated by Bridget McKenna, received the Mom's Choice Award. Now we discover that two other 4RV books received honors this week.

          Aldric & AnnelieseHarry E. Gilleland, Jr.'s  action-adventure novel published by 4RV in 2011, won a First Runner Up Award in the Historical Fiction category for 2012. The winners for the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) 2012 book awards were announced at the MWSA conference the last week in September. Aidana WillowRaven created the cover art and designed Harry's novel.

          Monday, Literary Classics International Book Awards and Reviews announced the finalists for the 2012 awards (final places will be announced October 15), and on the list was Karen Cioffi's Walking Through Walls. Aidana WillowRaven illustrated the young adult novella.

          Congratulations to the authors, illustrators, and designers who produced these award winning books.

        All awards winning items can be found online through the 4RV Bookstore, and can be included in the Christmas Sale going through December 15.

4RV Publishing 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Authors, do you save your work off computer?

I recently had a problem with my computer that caused me no end of grief. Grief, in the fact my password list, WIPs, and more are inaccessible to me because of the problem with my newest computer, causing me to start over from the beginning with everything.

There are many places one can use to save work to access anytime from anywhere, which I should have done. There is the cloud, memory sticks, CDs, or any type of removable hardware that allows you to access your hard work in case the computer crashes.

This post is to enlighten you to the possible damage which can be caused by a computer glitch or worse. You could lose everything. From personal experience, I can say that starting over from scratch sucks.

A memory stick that plugs into a USB port is cheap compared to the time spent on projects. I will be using some type of storage device that can be removed from the computer and stored in a save place so I never lose my work again.

I recommend anyone working on a book or list of some type spend the money and get at least a 2 Gigabyte flash card for saving work to make it safe from hackers if you use the cloud or some online storage site. Personally, I don’t trust my information to someone I only know as a site and no one behind it.

Please save your work so you never have to go through what I have been for weeks.

Robert Medak
Freelance Writer, Editor, Reviewer, and Marketer

Monday, October 1, 2012

Style Manual 4RV Way - Part 2

by Vivian Zabel  

Continued from Friday post, September 28:

Paragraphs and indention
             Use tab to indent. Do NOT use space bar to space over for indention.
             Use a separate paragraph for each time a different person has dialogue.
             Have only one topic per paragraph. Avoid long rambling paragraphs whenever possible.
Point of View
         There are only three points of view: First person; Second person; and Third person (which has two
              sub-divisions - limited and omniscient) 
                First person: The narrator tells the story, can only report what he hears or sees personally unless
                      someone else tells him something that happens when he isn't present.
                Second person: Used for instructions or directions since the reader is involved. Seldom used in fiction or
                       nonfiction successfully,
not wanted used for 4RV.
                Third person: The narrator sees and hears and knows what is happening, although he is not a part of the
                 Limited: The narrator can only know what one character feels or knows, reports from that character's
                 Omniscient: The narrator can see, hear, know what more than one character feels or knows. The
                        narrator sees all and knows all from more than one character's perspective. Good use of
                        omniscient doesn't confuse the reader by jumping between characters too quickly, only changes
                        perspectives between scenes or chapters. Never should have more than one perspective in a single
Quotation marks and punctuation 
always use “curly” quotes, not straight
             In dialogue, all punctuation goes inside the end quotation marks, if part of the dialogue.
             If the phrase, clause, or words inside the quotation marks is not dialogue, commas and periods go inside
                 end quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation marks go outside the end quotation IF not part
                 of material quoted.
Incorrect:         “I’m not sure”, John replied. “Maybe you should ask Mary”.
Correct:            “I’m not sure,” John replied. “Maybe you should ask Mary.”
            Incorrect:         John turned to Tim. “Did you say, ‘I’m not going?’” or “Did you say, ‘I’m not going’”?
            Correct:            John turned to Tim. “Did you say, “I’m not going’?”
Incorrect:         My favorite short story is “Hidden Lies”.
            Correct:            My favorite short story is “Hidden Lies.”
Incorrect:         Mary yelled, “Get away from me”!
Correct:            Mary yelled, “Get away from me!”

            A long quotation, not dialog:  The quoted material, when more than two lines, should be a block with each
                       line indented from both sides, but no quotation marks used. Example:

                    Maria Jones, “Writing the Watson Way,” gave the following information to writers:
Tom Watson was one of the best authors of all times found in the British
                        Empire.  He believed that all writers were responsible for making readers
                        a part of the action and for them to feel as if they are included.

            Quotation punctuation:  Commas and periods go inside a final double or single quotation mark.
                    Question marks and exclamation marks go inside the final quotation marks IF part of the dialog.
                    Question marks and exclamation marks go outside the final quotation marks if NOT part of the

                                 Incorrect: Mark asked, “Did John say, ‘I’m not part of that’”
                                                    Correct: Mark asked, “Did John say, ‘I’m not part of that’?”
Incorrect: “That’s not correct”, Mark said.
                                Correct:  “That’s not correct,” Mark said.                

              Quotation marks
are used around the titles of articles, short stories, and one-act plays when those are used
                        in a
sentence or paragraph. Quotations are not used when the titles are at the top of a work.
Spelling and Grammar 
U.S. spelling rules will be used, and U.S. grammar, punctuation, and structure usage.
            Remember, authors and editors, helping authors improve their writing does not change their voice. Good writing is good writing, but sometimes it needs help to be the best it can be. Editors should give suggestions and show where there are problems in a manuscript, but authors need to do the revising and fix any problem areas, should do any actual rewriting or revising. If the suggestions are not what the author prefers, he/she needs to find a way to revise in his/her way, but the problem or problem areas MUST be repaired.
Writing Tips      
            Indent every paragraph, using the tab. Do not leave extra blank lines between paragraphs unless the scene changes or time passes. Then leave three (3) blank lines between the paragraph at the end of the previous scene or time period and the first paragraph starting the next scene or time period.
            Avoid using second person except for directions or in dialog.
            Italics: Thoughts of characters are to be italicized.
                        Title of books, magazines, newspapers, movies, and full length plays, when used in a sentence or
                              paragraph are italicized. Those titles when used as the title at the top of a work are not.

            Show, don’t tell:
Use action verbs and active voice to allow the reader to “see” what is happening. Long
                               boring descriptions and background shouldn’t be written in long, detailed paragraphs, but
                               scatter throughout to hold the attention of readers and not bore them.   

            Avoid using passive voice unless absolutely necessary, and then seldom.     
            Time references:  Use AM and PM, all capitals and no periods, when needed.
Using references such as I want you here by 3:10 PM, no excuses, is fine. But I want you back
                             home in three hours or by three o’clock this afternoon, not three o'clock AM or PM.

Write Tight Tips
             “Write tight, delete unnecessary words and phrases.”  Let’s look at the words and phrases which, if we eliminate them, will tighten our writing.
              Note: to discover these in something already written, use the “Find” application under Edit in your word processing program.

 Down: A verb that implies down doesn’t require the use of the word.
            The boy fell down.
            The boy fell.

 Up: A verb that implies up doesn’t require the use of the word.
            The bird flew up to the tree branch..
            The bird flew to the tree branch.

 Out: If the verb implies out, using the word is not necessary.
            She spread the bedspread out across the bed.
She spread the bedspread across the bed.

Then: If action follows, the word then is implied already.
            He aimed the gun, then fired.
He aimed the gun and fired.

 Began – started:
            He picked up the book and began to read.
            He picked up the book and read.
He lifted the pen and started to write.
He lifted the pen and wrote.

 Felt – feel: Weak words should be replaced to created a stronger, clearer image.
            The chill of the night air had little to do with the cold she felt.
The chill of the night air had little to do with the cold swirling inside her.

 Back:  If the subject of a sentence is doing one thing and then another, back is usually unneeded.
            Jessie shook her head as she frowned back at her friend.
Jessie shook her head as she frowned at her friend.

 Back – returned: Sometimes “returned” signals going back to a previous action.
            He turned his attention back to the raging storm.
He returned his attention to the raging storm.

 Instead: If it’s a given that some action would occur, then “instead” is not needed.
            If he misses the chair, he will land on the floor instead of the chair.
He will land on the floor.

To the:  Using the phrase often causes wordiness.
            She opened the door to the office.
She opened the office door.

Suddenly: If  the next action follow, writing as the next action eliminates the need for the word.
            Suddenly the bull lurched forward.
The bull lurched forward.
            Suddenly the boy yelled.
The boy yelled.

or    Without warning, the boy yelled.

 Be-ing:  Sometimes using the present participle of verbs causes longer and weaker sentences.
            I should be writing her.
I should write her.

Could: If the sentence conveys information without the word, don’t use.
                  He could see her walking toward him.
He saw her walking toward him.

better    She walked toward him.

Would: Decide if the sentence with the word is stronger or the one without.
            Occasionally, he would catch her watching him.
Occasionally, he caught her watching him.    

There: Generally using there results in a weak sentence, and it should be removed if possible.
            There were men too close.
Men were too close. 
Even better would be using an action verb: Men stood too close.
If there were men that close, they would clog any escape.
If men were that close, they would clog any escape.

 Seemed: The word seemed should only be used when creating doubt.
            Harry’s presence seemed to dominate the camp.
Harry’s presence dominated the camp.

Was and other linking or to be verbs: Sentences are stronger when strong action verbs are used. Of course at times,
        linking and to be verbs must be used.

            His only fear was the dark.
He only feared the dark.

To be:  The phrase results in wordiness.
            She needs to be doing her homework.
She needs to do her homework.

That: Sometimes that is necessary, but often is isn’t. Try the sentence without it and see if the meaning changes                              or not.
The reason that we …
The reason we …

Just: Just is an overused word. We need to try synonyms like merely, only, nearly, or don't use anything, just

Avoid passive voice – use active voice: Passive voice does not show action by the subject, uses state of being verbs
(was, were, am, are, etc.) as the main verb or helping verb, or uses have, had, has as a helping verb.
           When possible, replace  with action verbs. Also passive voice has the subject not doing the acting, but
                  receiving the action.  Avoid state of being verbs when possible. Show, don’t tell.

            The ball was thrown by the boy.
The boy threw the ball.

Beginning sentences with it, this, that, there: It must refer to a noun used closely before the pronoun, with no other nouns between them (or unclear pronoun reference). The other words shouldn't begin a sentence unless they are used as adjectives before a subject. Using these words correctly results in stronger writing.

(NOTE: A special thanks to Margot Finke’s "Secrets of Writing for Children" and the comments on her forum for the Muse Conference for a portion of the previous tips.)
            In other words, authors need to cut anything that does not add to the story, plot, characters, and/or conflict. Extra words and/or phrases, passive voice, or long, unnecessary descriptions weaken writing. We all need to write tight and write right.

REPEAT: Use Strong Action Verbs and Active Voice – Part of Show, Don’t Tell
          Avoid using passive voice as much as humanly possible (using had or have or has as a helping verb equals
                   passive voice).
             Example: Jerry had stolen the book off the desk. – passive voice
             Correct:   Jerry stole the book off the desk. – active voice

            Avoid using state of being verbs except for absolutely necessary (is, are, was, were, am, be, being, been),
                     even avoid using as a helping verb.
                        Example: Jerry is known for stealing everything he can. – state of being helping verb
               Correct:   Most people know Jerry steals everything he can. – rewritten to avoid state of being verb
NOTE: when to use capitalized common nouns
            When a common noun (such as dad, mother, momma) is used as a name, it is capitalized. When a possessive pronoun or noun comes before the common noun, it is never capitalized. Usually common nouns are not capitalized unless it is the first word in a sentence, except used in place of a name.
                   Incorrect: Tilly told her Mother she would be home soon.
                   Correct: Tilly told her mother she would be home soon.
                   Incorrect: Tilly said mother told us to be home soon.
                   Correct: Tilly said Mother told us to be home soon.

           Authors and editors, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of strong writing. I will refuse something quicker for telling when showing is the stronger writing  than for most any other reason.

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