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Posts Tagged ‘writing tight’

 What Does It Mean to Write Tight?

How often have you heard conference speakers, i.e. authors, agents, and editors, say that, to be a successful, published author, you need to write “tight”? The term kind of reminds me of squeezing something big into something tiny or speaking poignantly.

So in pen laymen’s terms, what in the world does writing “tight” mean?

Here are eight qualities that will define a piece of literature as “tight” or stripped to its cleanest components:

1. Use specific nouns:
Not: The bird flew over.
Rather: The raven flew over the barn.

2. Pitch out as many adverbs as you can:
Not: He spoke loudly and angrily.
Rather: He yelled!

3. Be positive in sentence inflection:
Not: He didn’t show any respect.
Rather: He showed no respect.

4. Use active not passive voice with your verbs:
Not: Bowser, the dog, was walked by Joe.
Rather: Joe walked his dog, Bowser.

5. Get rid of sentences that start with “There” or “There were:”
Not: There was a lot of snow last month.
Rather: Last month’s snow total broke records.

6. Show, don’t tell; in other words, describe your action clearly:
Not: Billy was really angry.
Rather: Billy pounded his fist on the table.

7. Watch for redundant phrases:
Not: Millie blushed with embarrassment.
Rather: Millie’s face turned bright red.

8. Use down-to-earth language and throw out eloquent pedantic phrases and euphemisms that no one will know what the heck you’re talking about:
Not: Rickie’s face showed lines of agony and remorse while streams of tears flooded her poor anguished soul.
Rather: Rickie cried as though her heart was broken.

So, there you have it. Embrace these tidbits on how to become a best-selling author, and your readers will be begging for more.

Me Know Everything!

Marsha Hubler
(Website) www.marshahubler.com
(Blog) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books

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Let’s Talk Grammar for a While

(Post Number Four)

Mr. Em—Dash and Nanny En-Dash

 

 Although many folks use these little dashes interchangeably, there is a correct use for each one. I dare say that some beginning writers might not even know there is an em dash and an en dash. They might think they’re one in the same. So let’s go to the Grammar Dashboard and discuss these two punctuation marks’ appearance and use.

“The Em Dash—”

This “long” hyphen denotes a sudden break in thought that causes a sharp change in the structure of the sentence. It can be used anywhere in a simple sentence with the insertion of a shorter sentence or phrase to change the thought or it can be used to complement a certain part of speech (usually a noun). When the em dash appears at the end of a line of dialogue, it represents an interruption by another person’s following remark or an abrupt end to the line of dialogue. Let’s look at some examples:

************************************************************************

Example  One:

With Mayor Combs’ health problems, will he—should he—run for office again?

Barry gave away all the puppies but one—the brown one with the pink nose.

Three gorgeous horse breeds—the Arabian, Tennessee Walker, and Quarter Horse—are my favorites.

George W. Bush—a past governor and U.S. president—now lives in Texas.

*NOTE: there should be NO spaces before or after the em dash in the previous examples.

A word to the wise writer: don’t go overboard with em dashes. They should be used sparingly. Never use more than one em dash—or a pair of them—in one sentence. Also, if you think a comma, parenthesis, or a colon would work, then by all means use one of them instead of the em dash.

Example Two:

Mable yelled at her brother, “Stop that or I’ll—”

“Or you’ll what?” her brother yelled back.

“What is that bright light in the sky?” Susie asked her friend. “Is it a—” Susie was so frightened, she could no longer speak.

************************************************************************

Now, you might be asking, “Where in the world do I find the em dash on my keyboard? Can I just plug in two hyphens? Some word processors automatically convert hyphens to en dashes and em dashes. For instance, if I type two hyphens simultaneously after the last word without any space then hit “Enter,” the computer converts that to an em dash. But if that doesn’t work, do this to insert an em dash: hold down the CTRL key and ALT key simultaneously and hit the hyphen on the numeric keypad.

“The En Dash –”

I’ll be the first one to confess that I don’t use the en dash the way I should. I usually use a hyphen instead because it’s just easier to insert.

Anyway, an en dash has three distinct uses. They connect inclusive numbers as in dates, pages, and Bible verses. They are used in compound adjectives with open compounds or when two or more elements are open compounds or hyphenated compounds. And they are used to link a city to the name of a university that has multiple campuses. Here are the examples:

*********************************************************************

Example One: The date 1934-35; the pages 190 -191; Genesis 3:2 – 4 (My computer chose not to convert my hyphens to en dashes. It is acceptable to use hyphens in this way)

Example Two: the post – Vietnam era;   a brother – sister relationship

Example Three: Penn State University – State College, PA

 

 ************************************************************************

 

“And, pray tell,” you might ask, “where does one find this little rascal on the keyboard?”

Well, now that you asked, here’s the answer: (If your computer feels like cooperating) – type your word, insert a space, then type a hyphen and the next letter or word immediately without a space, and the computer should convert the hyphen to an en dash. Try it and see what happens. Sometimes my PC does it; sometimes it doesn’t. Go figure.

So have some fun with em dashes and en dashes; learn to use them sparingly and spruce up your writing style with a little extra flavor. You just might catch the eye of an editor—or an agent—as you write the best you know how!

Next time, we’ll look at colons, the little double periods stacked on top of each other.

Keep on writing and have a successful new year!

Marsha

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

www.marshahubler.com

P.S. If you haven’t been receiving my periodic Montrose Christian Writers Conference newsletters about the exciting 2017 conference and you’d like to be on the mailing list, please contact me. A tremendous faculty has committed and promises to present dynamite classes for all aspects of writing.

More shameless promotion:

KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES BOOK 4

SUMMER CAMP ADVENTURE

Keystone.Stables.Composite

Junior counselor Skye learns a good lesson about patience and jumping to conclusions.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003TFE5VI/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

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June 15, 2015

“Write Tight!”

How often have you heard conference speakers, i.e. authors, agents, and editors, say to be a successful, published author, you need to write “tight”?

So in pen laymen’s terms, what in the world does “writing tight” mean? Could it mean you should wear skinny Spandex clothes while you’re in your creative mode? Or how about drinking 10 cups of coffee so that you are wired to the max and look like a scared porcupine?

Let’s take a look at eight qualities that define a piece of literature whether fiction or nonfiction as “tight” or stripped to its cleanest components:

  1. Use specific nouns: Not: The bird flew over. Rather: The raven flew over the barn.
  2. Pitch out as many adverbs as you can: Not: He spoke loudly and angrily. Rather: He yelled!
  3. Be positive in sentence inflection: Not: He didn’t show any respect. Rather: He showed no respect.
  4. Use active not passive voice with your verbs: Not: Bowser, the dog, was walked by Joe. Rather: Joe walked his dog, Bowser.
  5. Get rid of sentences that start with “There” or “There were:” Not: There was a lot of snow last month. Rather: Last month’s snow total broke records.
  6. Show, don’t tell; in other words, describe your action clearly: Not: Billy was really angry. Rather: Billy pounded his fist on the table.
  7. Watch for redundant phrases: Not: Millie blushed with embarrassment. Rather: Millie’s face turned bright red.
  8. Use down-to-earth language and throw out eloquent pedantic phrases and euphemisms that no one will know what the heck you’re talking about: Not: Mona’s face showed lines of agony and remorse while streams of tears flooded her poor anguished soul. Rather: Mona cried as though her heart was broken.

So, there you have it. We’ve listed only eight, but very important, tidbits on how to become a best-selling author, and your readers will be begging for more.

************************************

TIME TO REGISTER FOR THE

MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE!

Carol.+.Conferee.7.20.14

July 19th-24th

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

Four Major Morning Continuing Classes

40 Afternoon Workshops

Fellowship with Other Authors, Agents, and Editors

Donna.Conrad.Kreiger.Chapel

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