Kill Off Those Patronizing Redundancies

Kill Off Those Patronizing Redundancies

Hire a hit man. Yes, you heard me. Go find a scary guy with scissors who can slash those condescending redundancies out of your writing. Unless you do, readers will feel patronized, like you don’t trust them enough to use their God-given brains to figure things out on their own.  Keep in mind, however, that even big-name authors like Daniel Silva are guilty of using these. So if you struggle, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re one of the few who doesn’t make these mistakes, but given the hundreds of manuscripts I’ve edited over the last decade, trust me when I say I’ve seen a lot of the same flaws. And redundancy is so common. Let’s get right down to what I mean. These are some of the common ones I see every day. He squinted his eyes. He nodded his head. He waved his hand. He shrugged his shoulders. What’s wrong with these…

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What Henry James Taught Me about Writing Suspense

What Henry James Taught Me about Writing Suspense

If you’ve read any works by Henry James, American-born British author (1843-1916), great suspense probably isn’t the first thought that leaps to your mind. Consider the all-important first sentence of his famous novella The Turn of the Screw. The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child. That’s sixty-two words in the first sentence alone. By today’s standards, such writing is “wordy” at best and “frankly hard to read” at worst. But writing styles come and go just like the bell-bottoms of the seventies, and during James’s day, this was cutting-edge stuff. Perhaps the economical writing so popular today…

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Clean Christian Fiction Makes Sense

Clean Christian Fiction Makes Sense

It used to be that Christian readers could pick up a book (fiction or nonfiction) from most recognized “Christian” publishers and never think twice about coming across questionable or outright offensive content or language. This, unfortunately, is no longer the case, folks. And that’s why I sometimes like to remind readers and publishers of where I stand on the issue. As the years pass, I’m afraid it will only become more necessary to do so. Lest anyone question the accuracy of my claim about slipping standards, let me offer two examples to illustrate my point. In a desire to be kind and fair, I won’t mention the authors, book titles, or publishers. The first example is very recent. A recognized author of Christian nonfiction had a 99-cent Kindle sale of one of his books from one of the leading Christian publishers. I had heard good things about this author’s writings and…

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How Long Before My Book Is Published?

How Long Before My Book Is Published?

Here’s the place where I address common questions about the mysterious world of royalty publishing (as opposed to indie publishing). If you have a question you’d like me to answer, be sure to post it in the comments below. Keep in mind that I’m not as much an expert on some topics as those who are more experienced, but I have worked with three different publishers so far and can give feedback accordingly. How Long Before My Book Is Published? Let’s say you found a publishing home for your book or are seeking one. If you sign a book contract, how long are you expected to wait before that wonderful product shows up (as an e-book or in print form) with your name on the cover? I have no intention of ever glossing over the truth here, so I’ll be straight with you.  At a minimum you’ll be waiting at…

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