Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday Tips! Warning: Avoid the following.

Keep in mind that by avoiding certain things while writing, you'll have fewer things to fix when you do your overuse of certain words should be avoided (that doesn't mean you should NEVER use them, just use them sparingly). Some of the more common ones are: was, were, had, that, still, felt, noticed, saw, just, nice, thought, up, down, really, beautiful, dark, almost, very, many, and so. Keep them to a minimum.
self-editing. I'm not talking about punctuation and grammar—those are easy fixes. However,

   Avoid overuse of adverbs and adjectives; let the dialogue and beats describe how characters react or how something looks. Don't overuse passive voice. Remember to keep the action going with active voice. Remember to utilize showing, not telling. Avoid overuse of repetitive words or phrases.

   Altered point of view (POV) is a no-no; if you want your characters to be as real as possible, you should only see the action through the protagonist's eyes/mind (unless you are writing from an omniscient POV, and that is a most difficult undertaking).

   Avoid overuse of speaker attributes in your tags. The KIS method (Keep It Simple) creates better dialogue. You must be certain, “said” or “asked” absolutely will not suffice before you plan to use something other than those two words.

   Unless right for a character, try not to overuse polysyllabic words. They are detrimental to your story by making the reader work extra hard at understanding what a character is talking about. Big, long words tend to muddy-up dialogue. Readers expect some characters to use big words, but only if the character would actually talk that way (e.g., Sherlock Holmes).

   Don't confuse the reader with too much violation of chronology. Stories work best if they flow naturally; the natural succession of events builds momentum. If you go back or leap ahead in time at some point(s) in your story, make sure the readers are informed—don't make them guess or leave them hanging out in space wondering what they missed. Tell them how long ago or far ahead the characters are moving. And when/if they return, fill the readers in on those moves, as well. It's best if you avoid too many time switches.

   Stay away from cliches; they make you look uncreative, unless of course one of your characters is notorious for using them in his/her dialogue. And speaking of characters, avoid “cardboard” characters. They are flat; characters need depth and should appear multi-dimensional.

   Your antagonists need to be believable, not “cartoon” antagonists. Making your antagonists too evil, too sadistic, too rapacious, or too vain causes them to be less than frightening, perhaps even less frightening than human beings.

   Try to keep the dashes (indicating interruption) and ellipses (indicating gaps) to a minimum. Bear in mind that, as you continue to write, you will become more aware of these things that should be avoided, and your self-editing will become easier as your writing ability increases.

   Keep those fingers flying!


About JLBCP Chief Editor Dar Bagby: 
Dar Bagby serves as the Senior Manuscript Editing and Proofreading Director at JLB Creatives Publishing.

 She is a “Yooper” (created from “U.P.,” short for the upper peninsula of Michigan), and lives on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior with her husband and miniature dachshund. Dar has been an English Language Specialist since 1990, graduating with a degree from a school in Dayton, Ohio. She put that education to use for 15 years doing medical transcription, working in-house for a multi-specialty practice in South Dayton, and later working for the same group remotely from her home in Michigan. She is now an author, in addition to working for a publishing company, so is familiar with both sides of the business of writing.

Dar also has a degree in music, vocal performance; she is an operatic soprano. But she discovered early on that traveling with opera companies, away from her home and family, just wasn't for her. "A nice home on the lake is a much better fit for my choice of lifestyle," says Dar

​And of course she loves to read. Her favorite stories are those from novice authors who are trying out their writing wings for the first time. She even co-teaches a young writers workshop at a local library, along with Janet, the CEO of JLB Creatives, who appears via Skype at each session.

Dar's husband and she (and the dog) love camping. She says, "There is an unbelievable number of wonderful places to see right here in the U.P., and most of the places offer terrific campgrounds." Her enthusiasm does not stop there. "Being from the frozen north, we're avid hockey fans and are lucky enough to live close to a university that supports a team in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, so we attend most of their home games. We often have some of the players over for a home-cooked meal, as I love cooking for more than two people and enjoy entertaining whenever possible."

** Want to know more about getting your book published? Visit and find out! 

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JLB Creatives Editor Dar Bagby (L) and JLB Creatives CEO Janet Beasley (R)