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on  at 9:00 PM

Posted In: Basics of writing, Story Details

guest post by Kellee Kranendonk

From Rick:

Once again, I’m pleased to have Kellee Kranendonk as a guest on our blog. This time, Kellee provides us with a simply superb post on description wherein she answers the question, How much description do you really need?

My answer is that you need however much as it takes to inform your reader and keep him/her interested in reading the descriptions without wanting to skip over any. With that, let’s hear Kellee’s excellent advice along with her excellent examples.

Cold Hard Facts for Writers by Rick Taubold

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on  at 9:19 PM

Posted In: General, Novel writing

From Rick:

About a year ago, I saw an article by Rebecca Dickson with this inspiring title:


Read it first then come back here for my take on it.


Done? Now that you’re thoroughly depressed and ready to give up on writing, let me voice my opinion on some of her points. I’m not saying that I disagree with only the points I mention, nor that I completely agree with everything else, although I can’t argue with most of her points.

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on  at 9:03 PM

Posted In: Dialog

From Rick:

I know, I know. I’m doing dialog posts with astonishing slowness even for me, but I’ll get to the end of them one of these weeks… or months… or years.

This particular post in the series began with a recent blog post from Anne R. Allen (a great blog, by the way):


Specifically, it began with Anne Allen’s bogus point #3: “‘”Said’ is boring. Use more energetic tags like ‘exclaimed’, ‘growled’, and ‘ejaculated.'”

To which Anne replied:

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on  at 9:16 PM

Posted In: Basics of writing, Point of view

From Rick:

“Why would I want to write in second person?” you ask.

“Well, maybe because you can capture a voice, mood and tone with it that no other viewpoint can,” I reply.

Before I answer that in detail, let’s first understand exactly what the second-person viewpoint is—and what it isn’t.

The excerpt below is from the first, and most famous, novel to be written in second person: Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney.

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on  at 4:35 PM

Posted In: Basics of writing, General

From Rick:

An interesting question came up recently with regard to authoritative advice for writers. It’s a fair question. With so many books and blogs out there, who should we believe and trust when it comes to advice? Further, what qualifies a person to give such advice?

In my October 6, 2014 blog post, I talked about the accepted authorities for spelling and grammar. That was a much easier topic to address because there are recognized standard reference sources. Even though I pointed out that these sources do not always agree, we’re dealing with an area based more on fact and less on opinion: the spelling, definition, and usage of words in the English language. The minor discrepancies arise because the language is always in a state of flux and not every change is magically adopted everywhere at once.

Read the original article at Write Well, Write to Sell

on  at 7:50 PM

Posted In: Story Details

From Scott:

After a much-needed hiatus, I have returned to revisit the topic of fingerprints. If you recall from my earlier entries on the subject, we discussed what makes up a fingerprint, how they form, biologically speaking, on your skin, and the various methods we have for developing them. In this entry, we’ll get more into the technical side, showing how a fingerprint identification is actually made. If you’re writing a crime novel, or any novel involving fingerprints, a basic understanding of these principles will give your book a greater sense of realism.

As I mentioned in the first entry in this series, fingerprints are divided into three primary groups: loops, whorls, and arches. Each of those groups has its own subsets, but for the most part the subsets have fallen into disuse. They were important up until the last decade or two, because they helped eliminate prints from consideration. At that time, fingerprints were named based upon the type, the subset, and a numeric identification that had to do with the number of friction ridges between certain identifying features (deltas, cores, and so on). But now, with the advent of computerized fingerprint comparisons, the importance of the subsets has faded.

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on  at 6:50 PM

Posted In: Openings

From Rick:

A couple of years back, Scott and I did a five-part series on Openings. If you want to read (or re-read) those, the OPENINGS category on the left side of the blog page will let you find them quickly. That category also includes a couple of other articles related to openings, which in my opinion, one can never write too much about.

After all, your opening–along with your title and book cover–is arguably the most important factor in grabbing a reader and making a sale. Of course, what follows that opening must include good, error-free writing that will determine whether your reader continues reading to the end.

The answers to the questions below will depend on the length of your opening paragraphs, whether the story is in first or third person, and the story line itself. I’ll discuss exceptions in a moment, but look over these questions.

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on  at 9:15 PM

Posted In: Basics of writing

From Rick:

Two weeks ago, I did a joint blog post with Kellee Kranendonk on some basics of grammar and spelling. One of my writer friends from Ireland was quick to point out an error of sorts in my statement that the Merriam-Webster dictionary was the considered authority on spelling and usage. And he’s right: that was an error on my part.

I have corrected the blog post to specify US English spelling and usage, but even that has its problems. Let me clarify. In the original statement my intent was that Merriam-Webster is generally considered to be the authority in the case of disagreements.

Read the original article at Write Well, Write to Sell

on  at 8:53 PM

Posted In: Basics of writing

From Rick:

Last year I did a post on verb tenses. Recently a question came up regarding this subject, and I saw that the previous post had not covered this particular issue.


In that post I discussed past tense narratives and gave an example of slipping between past and present tense, but I did not talk about writing narratives in present tense. I have mentioned present tense from time to time here and pointed out that not all readers like such narratives.

Read the original article at Write Well, Write to Sell

on  at 8:49 PM

Posted In: Basics of writing, Confusing words, Editing

by Rick Taubold and Kellee Kranendonk

From Rick:

For this week’s blog, I decided to build on another great article Kellee wrote for Silver Blade magazine. What I’m going to do is use Kellee’s article as a base, selectively choosing relevant pieces of it, and adding my own stuff in with it. I’ll try to give Kellee the credit for her parts.

KELLEE: There can’t be enough articles on using the correct words. Especially in an age when young people learn to text before they learn to spell. If all you’re ever going to do send text messages, then spelling doesn’t matter. But the chances are great that somewhere, sometime you will have to spell something correctly or use the proper word. I don’t buy into that old motto most teachers use: “Look it up in the dictionary.” If you don’t know how to spell it, how can you find it in the dictionary? Try “psycology” (psychology) or “nife” (knife).

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