Tag Archives: editing

Over Thinking It


Have you ever written something only to go back over it like 900 times and rewrite it every way imaginable? I do it all the time. I have been known to even do it when writing something as simple as a list or a note for my daughters’ school. One of the reasons why is because, as a writer, I don’t want other people to read something I have written and say to themselves, “This guy is a writer…really?” Another reason is because I have a compulsion to make everything I write as clear as possible; no misunderstandings here. Perhaps the most important reason though is because I over think absolutely everything…including my writing.

Over thinking our work is a condition that is an ailment within the writing community. Like any disease it invades writing groups across the nation and makes us all question our work and then rework it until it is a fraction of the idea we began with. It can start with something as simple as a character and a single trait. Does Bill really walk with a limp? Why should I give him a limp? What if he has to run later? What if he dies all because I gave him a stupid limp? Do you see what has happened there? My obsession over Bill’s limp has stopped all story flow. I could feasibly spend hours, even days, on Bill’s limp.

Over thinking your story can keep you from ever finishing it at all. It is for this reason that many seasoned writers will tell you to write your first draft completely through before even really “thinking” about the story at all. I think this is great advice but it does not stop the possibility of over thinking; it just delays it. Now you have your finished first draft but if you are an over thinker you will just do it on the first edit. The key to not over thinking is to not do it at all.

Let’s call it what it is…over thinking is the byproduct of low writing self-esteem.  Those of us who over think are not actually over thinking the story but instead we are over thinking ourselves. We need to recognize what is happening in order to correct it. We are not actually questioning the story but our own ability to write the story. It is not unusual to self-doubt as a writer…it is a lonely way to work and often times we don’t get positive feedback and when that happens it is easy for our minds to run amuck. You have to stay on top of how you are feeling about your writing and if need be, you must do all you can to boost your self-confidence. I have a friend who I can call if I am going through it. We boost each other out of the mire of self-doubt. I know that if I don’t deal with it, the story I am working on will never get finished.

So find a friend, be aware of what is really going on and fight self-doubt head-on. If you don’t you will never finish your story and all you will end up with is a guy with a limp and nowhere to go.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Trying Not to Embarrass Your Mom


I have written more than a few books. All of them are mystery-thrillers however buried within the mystery is often a bit of romance as well. What good story can survive, after all, without a little smooching? Any fiction novel just isn’t complete without a torrid sex scene of two. Which brings me to an age old questions most writers have to face sooner or later….how hot should I make my sex scenes?

When I wrote my first sex scene it was in the throes of the story. My main character met a lady became overwhelmed with passion and they did it, right their on the hood of 1968 Mustang. Yep it was hot and it was steamy and it got me yelled at by my mom. Keep in mind that I was 15 at the time and I am pretty sure that my mom was still holding out hope that I was oblivious to anything having to do with sex at all. She read it, yelled and then later, said that while it was a good scene, it was also inappropriate for a high school short story assignment. Needless to say I had to write a whole new story void of anything sexy.

Now days I am quite a bit older and my mom has become less inhibited so I have a little more freedom when it comes to inserting those scenes but my mom did have some advice for me that I took to heart when it comes to writing those types of scenes. She said, “Sex is okay as long as it’s a part of the story, never forget that”. What did she mean? Well it’s simple really; if the sex is a part of the natural flow of the story put it in. If you are putting sex in for the sake of sex…don’t, it won’t work.  We have all read authors who think that a chapter isn’t complete without sex; those writers bore me. Sex sells, that’s true but if you want to be known as a novelist and not a chapbook author, only use sex where appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of writers out there who write what my mother refers to as “smut books” and that’s great if it is your “thing” but it is important to draw a line in the sand if you don’t want to be known for those types of books.

So how do you gage when sex is too much? I have to go back to what my mom said; it’s good as long as it goes with the flow of the story. We all know how it works…two people meet, fall into passion, whether it is love or desire, and have sex. Afterwards how they react to each other speaks volumes of them as people, their relationship and even progresses the story along. That is the right amount of sex. Your reader wants your story to be as really as it can be and, let’s face it; most people are not falling into bed every other minute so keep that in mind when you are creating. And guys, try not to embarrass your mom too much…make sure that your sex scenes come with a little class whenever you can.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on October 15, 2022 in Character Studies, Writing


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I Am a Writer Who Sometimes Has Typo Blood


It is the one thing that drives every reader nuts…the dreaded typo. I’m here to tell you that it drives us writers nuts too. There is nothing worse than receiving your galley copy only to read through and discover that although you had a story in your head; it’s obvious that your fingers had other ideas.

Personally, I am horrible at catching my own typos. The embarrassing part is that there are some articles I have written that are several years old that I am just now discovering have typos in them. Clearly my editors missed them too. There is nothing like looking back at a piece you were really proud of and seeing a line that reads, “Someday y ship will come in”… where the hell did the “m” go?

There are lots of reasons why writers make typos. Sometimes I am in a hurry to get something done, like this column. Sometimes my fingers are cold because winter has set in and I’m too cheap to turn up the heat. Sometimes…well…sometimes I’m just lazy abut editing. No matter what the reason, typos can kill a great piece of work and for that reason you have to be more careful.

True story – when my very first novel was published I was young and stupid. I received the galley copies and was too embarrassed to ask what they were for. Not having done my research I thought I was simply getting advanced copies. (yea me!) So I never sent them back, in fact, I never even looked at them. Several months later I proudly took delivery of my first set of novels and sent them out to family and friends. Look what I did, I screamed to the world. A few weeks later I got one of the copies back from a well-meaning friend who had gone through and marked it all to heck. That novel was a land overrun with typos. Some of them were my fault, some were the product of typesetting (it happens) but the bottom line was I had sent my novel out like that. I had to wonder how many other people were reading my novel and wondering why I hadn’t gone to school to be a proctologist.

You have to edit those galley copies and you have to edit the original work. The human brain can be a lazy reader and it won’t catch those typos unless you are vigilant. You’ve seen those little tests where there is a paragraph that is written in such a way that the first and last letters of each word are right but the middles are scrambled and you can still read what it says…that’s because we are lazy. So once you have finished your novel read it backwards, read it one word at a time, get someone else to read it and for Pete’s Sake correct those galley copies. You don’t want your readers to think that you should have been a proctologist…that work would stink.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on October 9, 2022 in Editing, Writing, Writing Tools


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Beginning Writers 101 - 6 Things to be Aware of When Starting Out


Writing is hard. I know that many of you out there deal with others making less of what you do but let’s be honest…they are wrong…writing is hard. While I would love to tell all of you aspiring writers out there that it gets easier…it doesn’t. People will always make light of what you do and you will never get the credit you think you deserve and, in the end, you will stand mostly alone behind your work. It is the nature of the beast. No one can make it better and only time will tell if you have the tenacity to see it through.

The thing about writers is that we are writers hard or not. Even though it is one of the most thankless jobs running we will do it anyways despite the ups and downs because we can’t help ourselves. So since I can’t stop you young writers from jumping in I have come up with a few pearls of experience that may help a little. Veteran writers will nod their heads to each one of these because we all learn them somewhere down the line…and if you haven’t learned them yet, you will eventually.

1. Talent is nice but not necessarily necessary – Let’s be honest here, talent is great but there are more than a few writers out there who had a spark that they nurtured into a career.  In the end, to be a good writer requires hard work and dedication as well as that spark. Pure talent would be nice but the Universe doesn’t work that way. Persistence paves the way.

2. Write everyday – This is a biggie…you have to make the time to read and write every day no matter what. The sad thing is that it is incredibly easy to blow off writing time for life in general. We spend our lives with folks telling us that what we do isn’t all that important and so it’s easy to put it off….fight that. To hone the craft requires an everyday commitment.

3. Be honest with yourself – If there was a number 2 on the actual biggie list this would be it. As a writer you must be honest about your writing. It is a complete waste of time to work on stuff that isn’t working and to waste time on things that are all wrong. Commit to the work every day but be honest about where that work is headed. If it sucks, start again.

4. Everyone needs a neighborhood – It takes a village of sorts to write a book. Networking is important both during the process and afterwards. Build your reputation and make those connections with writers, publishers, editors, anyone who can help you spread the word. Sometimes the difference between being published and not is a simple handshake at a book signing.

5. You need a mentor – No one, and I mean no one, does it alone. We all need someone to aspire to, a mentor who will see our work through experienced eyes and help when things are going stupid. A good mentor will lend you their experience, expertise and support.

6. Read – I can’t stress this enough. Not reading as a writer is like being a chef who doesn’t eat…it’s pointless, how else will you know what “good” looks like? Read to study, read to compare, and most of all, read to be inspired!

These are just a few of the things I wish I had known in the beginning; it would have saved me time. Honestly there will always be some things that you have to learn by tripping over them but if those of us who have been around for a while can help you newbies, we should…it’s only right.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Promoting Your E-book Might Cost Your Less Than You Think


Recently I came across several websites and blog sites that were touting the joys of free promotion. It never actually occurred to me personally that there were other sites besides Facebook and Twitter through which to do this without having to give up an arm, leg or that bothersome first born. I personally am grateful for all the help I can get promoting my work. Assuming that you too would enjoy having this information I ran down 5 such sites that I feel comfortable recommending.

  • Author Marketing Club: Tired of looking up links to find the best places to submit your books? Here they are all together in one spot. Writers can just click on the logos to load each site’s form, fill in your details, and you are on your way to promoting your work.
  • Free Kindle Books & Tips: No better words can be uttered to a writer than “for free”. On this site just fill out the form and you are good to go. Books have to be free in the Amazon Kindle Store and must have an average user rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars for consideration though. It’s a great tool for writers wanting to try a book out on its own before charging.
  • GalleyCat Facebook Page: Writers can post their book in the “New Books” section. This is an easy way to share your book with readers. Remember that whenever you offer your book through a third party site, read the small print.
  • Meet Our Authors Forum: Amazon offers e-book authors a lot of opportunities and one is their “Meet Our Authors Forum”. I think this is cool because how often do you as a reader get the chance to ask authors questions? This is a place designed to allow writers to talk about their work.

These are just a few of the places I discovered, there are tons more. I know that many of you hate the concept of self-promotion (I do too) but it is a necessary evil so we might as well take advantage of all that we can.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Have Book – Will Make Mistakes…What to Avoid


We writers are not perfect. What?! Not Perfect…please…you may be saying, but it’s true…perfection is not a trait we carry as writers. We make some whoppers sometimes and as beginning writers we makes some pretty lame ones too. There are some basic mistakes that I can help you avoid though. They may sound like lame mistakes at first but put some thought into them because many, many writers make them all the time.

Mistake #1: Telling folks you’re writing a book -

This is a doozy. Almost every writer wants to brag, it’s in our nature. The problem with bragging however is that you then have to follow that up with action and therein lies the rub. If you are walking around talking about writing a book, you aren’t actually writing the book. Stop telling folks you are writing and instead write!

Mistake #2: You have your manuscript done and it’s the bomb –

Manuscripts are like newborn babies. When your kid first comes out it’s all “awwww, how adorable” but then you take it home and that first night the little bag of bones keeps you up all night crying because it was much more comfortable inside that womb. Your manuscript is the bomb when you first print it out because it is technically, done but alas, the work is just beginning. There’s editing, cutting and polishing…and trust me, just like that baby was more comfortable inside the womb, your novel was better inside your head too.

Mistake #3: Asking everyone you meet for their opinion -

Unless you live on a street with professional editors or come from a family of experts in your genre, stop asking everyone for their opinion. Opinions come a dime a dozen and if you insist on sharing your work with every Tom, Dick and Eduardo along the way your book will never be finished. Seek out constructive opinions but only from those who understand the work….your mom, she doesn’t understand the work. (Unless she is Anne Rice, then ask away)

Mistake #4: You don’t research your publishing options -

Major New York publishing house or self-publishing service or POD solution, decisions, decisions….the publishing options these days come in many flavors and require research. There are costs involved in some, requirements that the large publishing house demand and even self-publishing has its quirks. Today more than ever a writer has to do the research on which option is best for them. Make an educated decision on where to send that book…trust me…it’s worth the time.

Mistake #5: No after-the-book-is-done plan-

Advertising, promotion, ads, actually selling the book….haven’t given any thought to any of this? Shame on you! There is really no point in writing a book, if you have no intention of helping it get its wings. Long gone are the days when the publishing house took care of all that book promotion. Now authors have to set up book signings, do the advertising, and beat the pavement for readers…it’s all on us. If you have no plan as to how you are going to promote your work there will be a lot of sad afternoons looking at the sell stats and then hitting the couch to watch Castle reruns while you cry into your afternoon smoothie. Have a plan on how to get that little guy into the hands of willing readers.

These are just a few mistakes that writers make on a regular basis and, trust me, there are many, many more. There has to be some common sense inserted into the process and you have to think both like a writer and a reader if you are to be successful at all.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Writers and Self Abuse-Setting Healthy Boundaries


We are going to tackle a serious subject for a second…self-abuse. This is one of those subjects that don’t get all that much attention because, well, frankly, first off, no one really wants to admit that it is a problem and second, many writers don’t know how to stop it.

What are we referring to when we say “self-abuse”? The answer is many fold…let’s take a look at some of the ways we hurt ourselves…

  • Self-talk - Some writers delve into negative self-talk. You know what I mean, telling yourself you are a hack, degrading your work and generally putting your writing, and yourself, down. I have had this problem myself. I tend to let other people get to me, convincing me that what I do is not worth the effort and then I start telling myself that. As a writer you have to stay positive when taking to yourself.
  • Allowing others to belittle what you do – When my writing is making money, I am the hero of the household….but have some down time when economics shoots one over the bow and suddenly I am “just a writer”. We have one of very few jobs where what we make ends up defining who we are at times. Don’t let people make you feel bad just because the money isn’t rolling in.
  • Running with Rejection – This is a biggie for me. I hate rejection in any form but I especially had it in the form of a written response. So many editors and publishers forget that they are speaking to human beings when they send those stupid form letters out. In my mind I took the time to send you my work, the least you could do is write me back a small encouraging note.
  • Allowing others to take up your writing time – Again, this is a big one for me. With four kids, three grand kids, a multitude of extras in the form of the kids’ ex’s and current partners, there always seems to be a crisis to deal with. A few weeks ago I sent out a blanket text to all of them that I was off limits between 9-4 every day and within minutes three of them called anyways. Set your boundaries…it’s important, and then, enforce them.

There are many, many ways to sabotage your own work and many of us do so every day. This self-abuse is not helpful in creating good work. You have to control your environment, all of the outside influences and, of course, yourself in order to accomplish anything at all. So set those boundaries people and then enforce them…trust me, your readers will thank you later.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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The Stressed Out Writer – Take it One Thing at a Time


Are you stressed out? Does the very thought of writing make you break out in a sweat and feel like you are so overwhelmed that you should go back to school and learn to be one of those guys who is responsible for making sure that the Charmin is squeezable? I’ve been there…lots of times. It is very easy as a writer who has so many people living inside them to become overwhelmed and want to scream…”the Charmin is good, the Charmin is good!”

There are many things a writer can do to help combat stress but perhaps the most important one is such an easy fix that many of us run right by it when looking for answers. The answer….taking it one single task at a time. I know, I know, we talk all the time about multitasking and how we can all be sooooo much more productive if we can just multitask but that isn’t necessarily true.  Sometimes multitasking can get downright dangerous, case in point? Some women I know text, have coffee and put makeup on while driving. (You all know who you are…stop that) This is just one example; to be honest, often times the art of multitasking ends up stressing us out so much that it is anti-productive, like when it stops us from doing anything at all.

So what does it mean to do one thing at a time? I like to subscribe to the Zen wisdom of “Where ever you are, be there”. In other words, if you are writing…write, if you are editing…edit, do the thing you are doing and don’t bounce all over the place. AND don’t get distracted into doing too many things. My spouse will say to me, “I’m going to clean the kitchen”, while cleaning I’m told that there is something in the bedroom they need so they go to get it, while in the bedroom they realize that the bed hasn’t been made so they start cleaning the bedroom, half way through the bedroom there is something they need in the bathroom so they walk in there and suddenly they are cleaning the bathroom….by the end of the day we have a half cleaned house! If instead, they stuck to one thing at a time….at least something would get done, right?

So don’t get distracted and where ever you are, be there! You owe it to your writing to take it one thing at a time. If you don’t, you might find yourself like me with a drawer full of half written and edited novels.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Some “ME” Writing Time


I work as a freelance writer most days. I write for magazines, blogs, websites and I even ghost write books for other people. My days often consist of laying down word after word creating coherent sentences so that other people can communicate their concepts, ideas and stories. Yep…I’ll write for just about anyone, (I’d totally do Satan’s biography… how much fun would that be?) but there is one person who seems to come last on the long list of writing jobs that occupies my mind….that person is, sadly….me.

It is so easy to lose yourself and your own work within the chaos that is the writing life. A friend once gave me a little sign that now hangs in my office, it says, “Writing is like prostitution, first you do it for the love of it but you almost always end up doing it for the money”….OMG that’s true. Even though you may feel passionate about the writing, at some point, if you do it for a living, it becomes more about the money than anything else and that is a very bad thing.

Recently I have found myself in that place that all writers visit from time to time…we’ll call it “the flogging room”. Come on, many of you know it well…it’s that place where a writer goes to condemn themselves for not enjoying the art any more. We enter this room after bouts of despair and constant questions like, “why am I here” and “why couldn’t I have been a window washer” ? (the answer to that last question is because we are afraid of heights but that’s another column) We have allowed doubt to creep in and now we are sitting in that chair in the middle of the flogging room hitting ourselves over and over again with self-doubt and distain; it’s a horrible place to be.

So how does a writer get a one-way ticket out of the flogging room? Easy…you have to create some “me” writing time. Personally, I had forgotten how good it felt to actually create something for me. I got so wrapped up in what everyone else wanted to say that I forgot my own voice and so I stopped trying to tell my story. I had to tell my story again. So….I sat down at the keyboard, pushed all of the client work out of the way and started working on “my stuff”. The longer I worked, the better I felt. Then it hit me…I have to do some of this every single day from now on. Just like all those meditation sites will tell you to take time to meditate every day…take time to write every day but not just any writing…YOUR writing. Your inner artist needs you on a regular basis. If you stop feeding the cat, after he tries to kill you once or twice, he will die…so will your writing. So friends, feed that cat and then sit down to work on your writing….don’t let it die. That other stuff can wait a few hours…so invest in some “me” writing time…you won’t regret it.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Stupidity Drives Me Crazy - Especially When it Comes From a Writer


As a writer there are a lot of goofy things that drive me kind of nuts. I hate it, for instance, when people ask me if my writing is a hobby. I also hate it when I tell people that I am a writer and they ask me when I’m going to get a “real” job. Let’s face it…most people do not understand what it is that we do. But what happens when another writer doesn’t seem to get the process? For me, it makes my head explode.

Here are few things that I have either heard or read that actual writers have said over the years….

-I want to tell my story, please write it for me and I’ll just take a cut of the royalties: Seriously, this was a Craigslist ad. It amazes me that, #1- so many people think that their story is sell able, and #2 – that they actually think that another writer will do all the work so THEY can have a cut. Really?

-I wrote my novel and the only editing it needs to commas: Wow. I am the first person to admit that I am comma challenged, however, if you have written a book and you are arrogant enough to believe that the only editing it needs is comma placement…well…good luck with that.

-I am going to demand that the publisher give me a larger cut: ROFL…okay…It amazes me that so many writers, especially first time writers truly believe that they are in a position to demand anything at all. Folks, if you have actually gotten the attention of a publisher, be grateful…thousands of others haven’t gotten that and are at a corner bar somewhere drinking and explaining to the other patrons that they are being slighted by the universe. Demand nothing…instead kiss that publisher’s behind.

-I’m not doing any marketing, that’s the publisher’s job: Ummmmmm…okay….so you don’t actually want to sell books? Today’s publishing world has changed…long gone are the days when the publishing house was willing to dump a zillion dollars into a PR campaign. If you want to sell book you have to get out there and stump. So unless you live in Maine and your mailbox reads, “S. King” get off your ass.

These are just a few of the things I hear stupid writers say and, trust me, the list goes on. I’d like to invite you all to share some of the goofy crap you have heard your fellow writers say. Comment below and share with us…I know that you ALL have stories to tell.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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