ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tips for the Serious Writer

Updated on July 15, 2016

Tips for the Serious Writer

By Tony DeLorger © 2011


Writing is a passion most on HubPages will understand. However, if your passion becomes more serious, there is certain knowledge to be acquired. Whether you want to write articles or write a book, fiction or non-fiction, the expertise you need is more than a brush up on grammar.

Most writers make mistakes, but if you don’t want your manuscript to be cast aside in the first few pages, you need to be professional and not reek of an amateur. The following offers writing and editing tips you cannot ignore if you want a career as a writer.

Firstly, the problems that immediately dismiss you as an amateur-


REPEATS...

Every writer unconsciously uses a word repeatedly in their writing. This is commonly called as a ‘crutch word’. It’s rarely noticed by the writer, but very obvious to an editor. Promise yourself to discover and eradicate the repeats.

EMPTY ADVERBS...

Incredibly, completely, ironically, actually, really, unfortunately, finally, totally, literally and many more words are designed to emphasise, but often do the reverse. Overuse can degrade the meaning of a sentence. When you remove these words you’ll discover how much more power the sentence has.

SUFFIXES...

Don’t take a perfectly good word and complicate it with a suffix. They make the eye stumble, having to reread the word and interrupt the flow of reading. This is not what you want. Words like courageousness, preciousness and mindlessness are all suspect. Occasionally ‘ness’ words can be used, but infrequently. The ‘ize’ words are just as bad- finalize, cartegorize and the like. Use them sparingly.

PHONY DIALOGUE...

Advancing the plot with dialogue is fine but readers know when a writer is using it for their benefit. Don’t use dialogue to convey information the reader already knows. Dialogue offers glimpses of a character that the writer hasn’t provided through description. ‘Show’ us rather ‘Tell’ us. Wit, charm, observations are provided by dialogue and helps to distinguish each character. Phony dialogue will appear out of character.

FLAT WRITING...

Writing needs texture, depth and character. Without it, it appears bland, and no one cares. Re-write with life, otherwise the reader will believe the writer has lost interest and whose work is mediocre.

‘TO BE’ WORDS...

Often prose is flattened by the ‘To be’ words – ‘am,’ ‘is,’ ‘are,’ ‘was,’ ‘were,’ being,’ ‘be,’ ‘been,’ and many more. As a writer you need to be attuned to the frequent use of these words. The words represent the existence of things- ‘I am here. You are there.’ These words don’t act they just sit on the page. ‘It was Fred who joined the swimming team.’ It’s flat!

‘There was’ is also something to avoid. ‘John couldn’t believe there was pizza left.’ ‘There was a pillow on the floor.’ Too much of this and we’ll be dozing off. You find heaps of these in your writing so replace them with active and engaging verbs.

SHOW, DONT TELL...

‘She was stunning, attractive, fabulous, hilarious etc’ is telling. ‘I was stunned by her elegance as she strode up to me, erect, elbows back, eyes wide and flashing.’ If we can visualise the picture you’re trying to paint, then that is showing. It is revealing and opens up the character, describing specifics. Showing is usually about senses, visual, aural aromatic words that deliver us into the scene.

LISTS...

Lists are just plain boring. ‘She was overwhelmed by the pansies, carnations, roses, hollyhocks, hyacinths’ etc, etc, etc. Ditch it all and rewrite.

AWKWARD PHRASING...

‘Mr Jeffrey’s face reddened dramatically.’ This smacks of trying too hard. Awkward phrases make the reader stop to think about the meaning of the phrase, slowing down the read. Always keep this in mind- simplify and maintain pace.

COMMAS...

Compound sentences require commas. Sometimes you can break the rules but don’t do it to add tension. Punctuation is important so buy a book and use punctuation correctly.

EDITING TIPS

Use the ‘Find’ feature on your computer and search for ‘that.’ Eliminate all that you can. ‘Every one that you can,’ should be ‘every one you can.’ You will be surprised how many you find.

Using ‘Find’ again search for ‘ing’. Usually paired with ‘was’ as in ‘She was desperately trying to get his attention.’ These are passive forms and active past tense is much livelier. ‘She desperately tried to get his attention.’

Search for ‘was.’ She was tempted by the sale.’ Replace with ‘The sale tempted her.’ Rid yourself of all the ‘to be’ words by switching subject and object.

Hunt down all the adverbs and get rid of them. Use verbs. ‘He tried desperately to get her attention.’ Replace with ‘He fought to get her attention.’ Sounds better doesn’t it?

Hunt down adjectives and remove as many as you can. Readers can fill in all the detail. ‘The old hall is a small rectangular building.’ Replace with ‘The old hall is small.’

Delete the word ‘very’ & ‘every’ on most occasions.

Delete unnecessary possessives- her, his, him etc.

Remove ‘seemed to.’ Make it definitive, not watered down.

Remove ‘used to.’ Replace ‘I used to run,’ with ‘I run.’

Substitute ‘in’ for ‘within,’ if possible.

Delete whenever able—that, a little, quite, rather, really, a bit, a little, pretty, sort of, kind of, so, somewhat, thing, appeared to, got, fairly seemed to, getting, slightly.

Leave out ‘then’ as much as possible.

Delete all clichés unless original

Always delete padding.

Remove ‘let it.’ Let should be removed

The above has been written succinctly for the purpose of publishing, however the information is critical for all writers to learn and apply. The more professional our work the greater our prospects of being taken seriously.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Aww, does it have to be such a long list? :)

      Helpful hub thanks. Bookmarked and voted useful

    • Edlira profile image

      Edlira 

      7 years ago

      Thank you, for a great, useful hub.

    • slideseven profile image

      slideseven 

      7 years ago from UK

      Yup: all true. I've published two full Novels and had to spend months going back over the proofs to correct grammar, spelling, and so on.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)