Writing Tip: Allow Your Story to End

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Endings are tough.

I know the cliché saying is “middles are difficult”, but many writers struggle when it comes to tying a bow on a piece of work and calling it finished. This can be a tricky issue, but there are few strategies I employ when I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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Stop Using “Thought” Verbs

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I wanted to share this essay from LitReactor by “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk because it struck a chord with me. The idea of forcing yourself to no longer use verbs that act as “shortcuts” to what your characters are thinking and feeling is a very direct way of making the writer unpack better descriptions that allow the reader to draw those conclusions.

Thinking is abstract.  Knowing and believing are intangible.  Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing.  And loving and hating.

After I finished it, I looked back through some of my own work and realized I was totally guilty of what our friend Charles talked about. I practiced on a few sentences, and it made a huge difference in the level of immersion I was injecting into the scene.

This is one of those simple technique shifts that can make a world of difference, but might not be obvious to writers as we’re furiously scribbling away. You may want to take a few minutes to review your own work and see whether this is some advice you can apply to improve your writing style.

On Self-Censorship

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I had an interesting conversation with a fellow author last week that got me thinking about self-censorship.

She was debating re-writing a manuscript because she felt some of the content might offend her target audience. I cautioned her against censoring her own work even at the cost of alienating certain readers. My argument was that it would make the book less genuine and she’d ultimately run the risk of being unhappy with the final product.

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Writing Tip: Overusing “Said” as a Dialogue Tag

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As I continue my quest in publishing, I read so much advice about “the rules” of writing. A common piece of knowledge dispensed about penning dialogue is to only use “said” as the primary dialogue tag.

What’s a dialogue tag?

A dialogue tag is a clause of two words or more which attributes speech to a particular speaker. “Hello,” John said. Hello is the dialogue. John said is the dialogue tag. The tag makes clear that John is doing the speaking, rather than Mary or Chris or the dining room table.via EditTorrent

The popular theory behind employing “said” as your weapon of choice is that it supposedly disappears as a reader is scanning the text, and through some psychological magic they treat it like punctuation.

I’m here to tell you that’s not (always) true.

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