INDIE Editor Grammar Tips: Overuse of ‘As’

The misuse and overuse of ‘as’ can negatively affect how your writing in perceived. Time to learn how to kick your ‘as’. Let’s get started.

‘As’ is most commonly misused and overused when trying to portray a series of events.

There’s nothing grammatically incorrect about using ‘as’ to show a person doing something at the same time as something else.

However, overuse of ‘as’ makes your writing look amateurish and clunky.

Particularly when there are many other ways to flex your writing kahunas.

Yes, I used the word ‘kahunas’.

A simple guide:
‘As’ shouldn’t be used to mean:

  • at the same time
  • at the same time as
  • because
  • while
  • when.

What, when, how?

Events in the real world can happen at the same time.

Events in fiction happen sequentially.

Why?

Because readers prefer to read sequentially.

It’s less jarring and, more importantly, it’s better writing.

Example:
John put his arm around Margery as Bill entered the garden.

We know that Bill can enter the garden at the same time that John is putting his arm around Margery.

However, the events need to be described sequentially for the reader to make more sense of the action:

John put his arm around Margery. Bill entered the garden. 

Creating a sequence of events makes it easier for the reader to follow your action.

Another Example:
Bill grimaced as John put his arm around Margery.

The above is a common error.

At first glance it appears all is well and fine.

Let’s take a closer look at the example with reference to cause-and-effect.

What is the cause?
John putting his arm around Margery.

What is the effect?
Bill grimacing.

Both cannot happen simultaneously as the example suggests.

John must put his arm around Margery before Bill can react with his grimace.

The fix? Let’s try two solutions:

John put his arm around Margery. Bill grimaced.

Bill grimaced because John put his arm around Margery.

Notice how using ‘because’ makes the second example grammatically correct, but that it’s still clunky.

You can do better!

How to show-off my writing kahunas?

See sentences connected by ‘as’ – or using ‘while’, ‘because’, ‘while’, ‘when’ – as an opportunity to flex your writing muscles.

How about:

John put his arms around Margery, cradling her for the first time. The crack of a breaking twig and Margery froze. John glanced toward the sound. Bill stood watching them, a grimace plastered across his face.

Sure, the above prose needs some work. But the sequence of events is more easily defined. And not one ‘as’ in sight.

Tip

Separate your scene into a series of sentences for each event.

This will allow you to get a sense of the scene. Of cause and effect.

Then rewrite the scene using these sentences, adding extra nuance where needed.

Avoid using ‘as’ or any other connecting words.

Being real about writing

Do I occasionally use ‘as’ when writing cause and effect? Every now and then. Sure I do.

Grammar use in fiction, is a guide only.

But to break the rules, you have to know them.


Please take a look at my handy grammar guide.

The Complete INDIE Editor – 55 Essential copy-edits for the Professional Independent Author

It covers the overuse of ‘as’ in the section ‘Tricky Words’ and a whole lot more.

Amazon Reviews:

“Easy to follow and packed with usable tips…well worth the few dollars.”

“It has given me a lot more confidence in my writing and helped me identify some schoolgirl errors. More than anything, it helped me clarify what is good and bad writing.”

“I’m now happily writing with confidence in my own style. A very useful guide I’d highly recommend.”

An essential companion for an effective writing process.

Available in Kindle and Paperback

2016-05-12-INDIE-EDITOR-US

 

 

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The Complete Indie Editor now available in print!

It’s finally here, the paperback edition…

The Complete Indie Editor - Paperback Edition

Copy-Editing for the Professional Indie Author

We are living in a new publishing age. The way books are bought, sold and printed has radically changed. The reason? The move towards self-publishing.

Independent authors can now publish their own novels when they want, how they want, and with a cover they are happy with. Indeed, independent publishing provides many new and exciting opportunities for authors.

To become successful independent authors, we must write and publish as professionally as we can. With that in mind, I created this guide. The Indie Editor will not tell you how to self-publish, how to get cool covers, or how to market your publications, but it will explain, in a series of fifty-five edits, how to prepare your manuscript for publication or for submitting to your editor or beta-readers

When you publish as an Indie Author, be it on an electronic devise such as the Kindle or as a printed novel through Createspace or other print-on-demand services, readers are evaluating your writing by using Free First Chapter, etc. With so many novels competing against one another, you need all the tools you can get to convert interest into a buy…

Welcome to the world of copy-editing – the revision, correction and adaptation of a piece of writing for publication. An edit is the singular name given to an individual edit or group of edits in the process of copy-editing. By working through this guide, you will apply each of the fifty-five edits to your novel.

These Copy-edits include:

*Redundant adjectives & overuse of adverbs
*Over thirty overused words & phrases such as that, it, up/down, was/were, had, even, got, etc.
*Overuse of exclamations and the ellipsis
*Proper use of italics, quotations & capitalisation
*Word pairs & homophones
*How to handle numbers & time
…And descriptions of flow, show not tell, writing tenses, dialogue handling and more.

Applying these copy-edits to your fiction will allow reviewers and readers to evaluate your novel purely on the strength of your story and not on clumsy and weak prose, overuse of adverbs, repetition and flabbiness. Your readers may not understand why your fiction is more engaging, but subconsciously they will respond to the improved flow, the more immediate prose and leaner sentences.

The Indie Editor cannot guarantee you marketing success; what it will guarantee is to give your novel the best chance it can get in a tough, competitive and new publishing world. Getting readers past page one, despite your ‘explosive, fast paced hitting-the-ground-running opening’, is what this guide is all about.

Let’s put it in a nutshell:

The Indie Editor is a one-stop copy-editing shop to improve your novel before publication.

Welcome to the world of Copy-editing!

ORDER NOW!

Paperback: US | UK
Amazon Kindle: US | UK

 

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VATIC is finally here! Get your copy for only $0.99/£0.99

Vatic - a flat out burn of a readIt’s finally here! Vatic has arrived. And I can go and have a long-earned lie down!

For an introductory time only, VATIC is on sale for $0.99/£0.99 (& equivalent for your region.) before it reverts to $4.99/£2.99.

US http://amzn.to/1POUWZM
UK http://amzn.to/1WcaxI5

Yep, a full novel for just a quid! And FREE with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

I’d love you to pop over to Amazon and download a copy. I’m not expecting super-chart success, but I’m keen to give it the best chance it can get in a competitive market. If you could do that today or before the offer ends I would be most grateful.

I would also appreciate if you could give the novel a push on your social media – Twitter, Facebook, etc. Any mention would be fantastic. Can you use my name and @KevHeritage (Facebook and Twitter will then alert me) and I promise to retweet, etc. It’s up to you. Here are a few links to my social stuff:

Website: http://kevheritage.com
Vatic page: http://www.kevheritage.com/vatic/
Twitter: @KevHeritage
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KevHeritageAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KevHeritage
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KevHeritage/

If you want to interview me to write something for blog or newsletter, just drop me a line. The release offer lasts until close of play Friday 11th Dec.

Finally, if you have been given a review copy (in return for an honest review), it would really help to get the review posted on Amazon in the next few days—if possible. But if it takes longer, no worries.

And that, ladies and germs, is that.

All the very best!

Cheers,

Kev

MORE LINKS

Print (available to buy):
Amazon US http://amzn.to/1POUWZM
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1NumeSP
Signed copies available on request

http://www.amazon.de/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.fr/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.es/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.it/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.nl/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.co.jp/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.ca/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.com.br/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.com.mx/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/
http://www.amazon.com.au/Vatic-Kev-Heritage-ebook/dp/B016XZ85Z2/

VATIC – an action-packed burn of a read –  a science-fiction mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

“Gritty, intense, and compelling, Vatic is a something you don’t run into often enough in Sci-Fi–a cerebral thrill ride you don’t want to end.”Vatic - by Kev Heritage -Michael Bunker, US TODAY Bestselling author of Pennsylvania

“Legitimately, one of the best books I’ve read since Ready Player One… Prepare to lose sleep reading Vatic!.. Delicious Sci-Fiction!…The best thing since Wool!”
-Kate Danley, US TODAY bestselling author
 
“Kev Heritage’s uncanny sense of pacing and story puts him at the forefront of today’s speculative fiction writers.”
-Samuel Peralta, Amazon bestselling author and creator of The Future Chronicles
 
“Gritty, detailed and unrelenting–Vatic will take you on a wild ride.”
-Peter Cawdron, International Bestselling author of Science Fiction

No memory, half-dead and 100% in your face…

Top Company scientist, Chen Jelinek, has committed suicide.

Vatic, a half-alive empath with no memory of who or what he is, will die in six-hours if he can’t find out why—or so the Company tells him—an ‘added incentive to get the job done’.

Our hero soon discovers he is one of the Skilled, a genetically enhanced human revered and despised in equal measure—a bloodhound with a terrifying past who’ll stop at nothing in his pursuit of truth.

He is unceremoniously dumped at the Company’s most prestigious labs, where he meets the ‘best-of-the-best’—scientists at the pinnacle of their profession—and the pompous and annoying facility Director, Anton Frederix.

Vatic is not welcomed with open arms—the over-indulged base experts try to hinder his investigation rather than give him the help he requires. But Vatic is not the type to give up easily, especially when his life depends on it.

And just what is the mystery surrounding the black flowers found in the vast hydroponics domes, the alien mould cultivated by the lab’s Director, and the base-wide system failure threatening everyone’s lives? If Vatic knows one thing, it’s that he’s the guy to solve this, no matter how complicated or messed up it may be.

With time running out, Vatic must use all of his genetically modified wits to survive. And ‘the Skilled always get their guy’… don’t they?

 

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Free downloads available all this week!

To celebrate the upcoming release of my sci-fi mystery VATIC on Sun Dec 6th, I’m hosting a free giveaway of a selection of Kindle novels and shorts between Monday 16th and Saturday 22nd of November . That’s right, all the below novels and stories are free for download.

Here are the links, enjoy!


Blue Into The Rip (Into The Rip #1) by Kev Heritage http://kevheritage.comBLUE INTO THE RIP (Into The Rip #1)
A Young Adult, Science Fiction, Climate Change, Time-Travel Adventure.

Getting back home was the only thing that mattered to messed up, mixed race teenager, Blue (named after his stupid, googly blue eyes) – and that was the problem – home was over four hundred years in the past.  

LEARN MORE…

FREE TO DOWNLOAD: 16th-21st NOVEMBER ONLY!
Amazon Kindle US | UK



Mixed-3D-CoverTHE COWL (IronScythe Sagas Omnibus #1)

‘And from the dark unknown came a hooded avenger, a sable-weaved nemesis branded with living iron whose will it was to destroy all works of delving. His name? He had many over his lifetime, but history only remembers him as… the Cowl.’ 

Welcome to the IronScythe Sagas and the world of Arn, where two suns fill the sky and metals are forbidden, dangerous things. And introducing the hooded nemesis of delving himself—the enigmatic Cowl, the wielder of the land’s own avenger, IronScythe.

Fast-Paced Adventure Fantasy

THE COWL OMNIBUS #1 is an exciting new trilogy of linked adventure fantasy novellas featuring:

FLESH GOLEM
THE WEIRDING WAY
GOD GOLD.

LEARN MORE…

FREE TO DOWNLOAD: 16th-21st NOVEMBER ONLY!
Amazon Kindle US | UK


The-Indie-EditorTHE COMPLETE INDIE EDITOR – 55 Essential Copy-edits for the Professional Independent Author.

Welcome to the world of copy-editing – the revision, correction and adaptation of a piece of writing for publication. An edit is the singular name given to an individual edit or group of edits in the process of copy-editing. By working through this guide, you will apply each of the fifty-five edits to your novel.

These Copy-edits include:

*Redundant adjectives & overuse of adverbs
*Over thirty overused words & phrases such as that, it, up/down, was/were, had, even, got, etc.
*Overuse of exclamations and the ellipsis
*Proper use of italics, quotations & capitalisation
*Word pairs & homophones
*How to handle numbers & time
…And descriptions of flow, show not tell, writing tenses, dialogue handling and more.

LEARN MORE…

FREE TO DOWNLOAD:  16th-21st NOVEMBER ONLY!
Amazon Kindle US UK


Balacing the Books - by keve heritage. A Time-Travel Short http://kevheritage.comBALANCING THE BOOKS

A Sci-Fi short:

Time-travel is a dish best served cold…

Dan has a hobby, but if he asks you out for dinner,

you may want to politely refuse…

 

FREE TO DOWNLOAD: 17th-22nd NOVEMBER ONLY!
Amazon Kindle US | UK


GYRE WITCHERYGyre-Witchery
A fantasy short included in ‘FROM THE INDIE SIDE’ anthology.

All Tam wanted was to be loved. Was that so hard? Made outcast because of her green eyes—the sign of witchery—Tamina, a well-meaning simpleton, is shunned by a superstitious people who blame her for the ills that have overtaken their small island.

It was not her fault that she put on weight while the others starved, or that wild animals slinked at her side, or that men and women both desired and despised her. But change was coming, brought upon the back of a terrifying squall…

FREE TO DOWNLOAD: 17th-22nd NOVEMBER ONLY!
Amazon Kindle US | UK

 


 

Please download, read and post an honest review to Amazon and Goodreads.

Kev

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Kindle Publishing: How to format MS Word

The problem with publishing to Kindle… formatting in MS Word!! Here is a list of simple tips to help you overcome a few niggling problems.

NB. These fixes and tips are for all modern versions of MS WORD.

Font.
Write in your preferred font. I personally use Calabri 12pt. But it makes no real difference. Do not use a font size over 22pt.

Unwanted indents
I always start a new chapter with no indent on my first paragraph. Something like this on the first chapter of Flesh Golem, part one of my IronScythe Sagas:

Flesh-Golem-1
But when I upload to Kindle, this is what my first paragraph looks like:

Flesh-Golem-2

Ack! It took me ages to work out a solution to this problem, but it is fixable by a using a little cheat. All I do is add a single, pixel sized indent that Kindle recognizes.

Take a look at the first example again. There is a single pixel indent before the leading ‘W‘ of ‘WITH‘. But it’s so small it’s practically undetectable.

How it’s done

1. Highlight your leading/first chapter paragraph.

2. Open ‘Paragraph settings’ and the ‘Indents and Spacing’ tab.

3. locate ‘First line‘ under the ‘Special’ heading.

4. In the ‘By’ field, enter: 0.01″ – this will add a single pixel indent to your lead paragraph.

indent1

Line Spacing
Choose Single line for all text.

Justification
Do not justify your text. Kindle will do this for you.

Centred text
Create normally.
For floating text blocks, use the Left and Right indent toggle in Paragraph Settings (see above).

Headings
Do Not use any formatting other than ‘Normal’ for headings (for ‘Normal’ I mean regular paragraph text). Avoid ‘Heading 1‘, ‘Heading 2’, ‘Title’, etc.

To create headings, increase font size up to 22pt or use graphics (like I’ve done in the example above).

Creating a clickable Table of Contents
Position the cursor on your chosen chapter title/or section heading located at various points within your manuscript e.g. an individual chapter heading. Go to the Insert menu and use ‘Insert bookmark’. Give it a catchy name like ‘CH1’ or ‘About’ etc. Do this for all items you want to add to your table.

Return to the beginning of your work and under the title ‘Table of Contents’ (or whatever you want to call it), create the table manually.

e.g. type in something like below

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 26

Epilogue

About The Author

Acknowledgements

Also by

Then manually add hyperlinks by highlighting the text, right clicking and choosing ‘Hyperlink’ > ‘Link to: Place in this document’. The bookmarks you added in the previous step will appear in a pop-up. Choose the correct bookmark and repeat.

Start of the novel
Kindle starts all over the place. Damn annoying. A way round this is to force it to start on the cover image.

Add a ‘Start’ bookmark at the front of the document using the Insert menu on the very first line of your document. This will force Kindle to start on the cover.

Table of Contents
Highlight the the title of your contents. In the above example I used ‘TABLE OF CONTENTS’ and add a bookmark called ‘TOC‘ It has to be called this for Kindle to recognise this is where your Content list lives.

Simplicity
Keep everything simple. Do not use drop capitals. When formatting in Word this way, you can pretty much control what the converted Mobi/Kindle file will look like. Take time to get all your formatting right.

Uploading to Kindle
Upload as normal and use the online previewer. Check across all the different kindle formats. Note any horrible formatting. Check all ‘Table of Contents’ link work correctly.

Download the mobi file and send to your Kindle. Check all is okay and the way you want it. Often Word adds strange formatting and font changes that are only apparent when converted to Kindle. So check every page.

Fix any errors and repeat the process until you’re happy.

And we’re done.

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‘At the editors…’ the awful wait

One of the most exciting things that has happened to me on my self-publishing journey, is the opportunity of sending my work to the editors. I say ‘exciting’, but what I really mean is ‘nerve-wracking’!

I go through a whole host of emotions when I’m writing a novel: excitement, desperation, frustration, anger and depression to name just a few. This is because I’m what you might call a ‘moody guy’. Some days I take a look at what I’ve written and feel like deleting it all and starting again. Or just giving up. It’s that bad. Other days, I think the polar opposite… I can actually write! I literally dance around like an idiot.

And every other shade of emotion in between.

This makes the discipline of writing difficult. I have to slog on through the moods regardless. And that’s what I do, day after day. In many ways, I actually find the writing process cathartic. Finishing a story that I’m proud of is an achievement that always keeps giving. And that’s all well and good… when it’s just me. 

At some point, though, I have to send it off to the editors….

My first novel, Blue Into The Rip, was copy-edited by myself. It sounds a dumb thing to do, but other than letting a friend read it, who spotted one or two typos, that was it. Luckily, and because I have a robust redrafting process (and because I put the novel in the bottom drawer for six months, and because I was shit-scared of fucking up), the novel was well received with mostly five star reviews. Phew!

But I was lucky. Luck played its part again when I was edited by Indie editing genius, David Gatewood for the short story anthology From The Indie Side. Working with David made me realise that I needed a more professional approach. I advertised on Twitter and found four editors!

The first time I sent my work off to the editors, it happened without me really noticing. I was banging through the three stories for my IronScythe Sagas and it was only when I’d finished and they’d been emailed off that I sat back and thought… oh shit!

It was an awful wait. Should I email the editors to see how they’re getting on? Should I ask if they liked it or not? How many marks out of ten? But I did what I do best, which was nothing.

Why break a winning pattern?

Within a few weeks the manuscripts came back. Reading their notes I soon realised that I was being precious. I found the process invaluable. Sure, there were a few red-faced moments, but at least they had been spotted. Changes were made and the MSS did the rounds again. And it turns out, the editors liked the stories as well, which was a nice bonus. I felt cool, on top of things…

Last week I finished my latest novel, Vatic.  I was writing a short story for my upcoming anthology – just 8000 words – and damn and blast if it didn’t turn into a novel. Vatic is a ‘space mystery murder thing’ written in First Person Present. So it was a big departure for me. It’s now at the editors. And guess what? Nothing has changed. I’m just as nervous as I’ve ever been.

Hopefully, they will read this and let me know…

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How to spot your writing flaws and fix them using AutoCrit

The question I’m most asked by writers on Twitter is ‘Can you take a look at my work and give it a critique’.

As a committed author, who works a full time job, including a London commute (you’ll know all about my commuting troubles if you follow my Twitter feed!), my time is precious. I’m not alone—the same is true for most modern writers.

And, having read a great deal of under-polished, under-drafted work, I certainly wouldn’t contemplate critiquing anything that’s not been edited. I’m not being elitist, far from it. No matter what your level, a professional approach to writing is, in my opinion, the most important function of the modern author.

As such, we have to use every avenue and every resource available to produce tight, highly polished manuscripts that can pass muster with all those critics out there—including myself! So how can we do this?

Getting the most for your money

Editors can cost a fair penny, and if they’re dealing with more fundamental problems with your prose (instead of looking at the manuscript as a whole), your money will not be well spent. That’s why I always make sure my manuscripts are the best they can be, before they go to the editors.

Let me put my hands up, I write as much terrible prose as anyone else. My first drafts read like they’ve been scrawled in crayon. My advice: keep redrafting. And when you think you’re done, redraft again. After that, I suggest a few more redrafts and a final redraft just be sure. As well as a quick post-final redraft before your final, final, final, final redraft…

The problem with redrafting? We’re so close to the manuscript that we become blind to its problems. To combat this, and to speed up the process, I use an online program called AutoCrit. It’s a vital step in my editing regime that I’d recommend to all authors, new or established.

How come?

Authors use the term ‘bottom drawer’—it refers to the editing method of writing your manuscript, editing it and ‘finishing it’ before leaving it alone for a few months. When the writer goes back to the story after that time, the manuscript’s flaws and problems are more apparent. This is a long process and the writer may still miss glaring errors such as repetition, cliché and lack of flow.

AutoCrit quickly identifies such problems in your manuscript and is invaluable at helping to spot your bad habits. All you need is an internet connection and you’re ready to go. No installing software and you can use it for free on up to 15,000 words at a time—you’ll receive a comprehensive report that includes sections for almost every focus area that AutoCrit offers.

Why use an online editor?

I’ve written for many years, and I thought I was on top of my bad habits. My big problem? Repeating the same words and phrases in close proximity. It’s like my brain gets turned on to a word or phrase and there I am, repeating it over and over again like some writing idiot. And I’m snow-blind to them. But I didn’t realise what a problem this was until I used AutoCrit.

This simple-to-use copy & paste tool highlights my erroneous repetitions, my overuse of ‘all’, ‘little’ and any number of other words, but also gives me stats on overuse of more common words like ‘feel/felt’, ‘that, ‘it’ and a whole host of other problematic lazy phrases that can easily creep into my sentences when I’m not looking.

At first, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to trust my writing to a faceless algorithm. But like notes from my editors, I always make the final decision on what stays in and what goes.

I’ve been using AutoCrit successfully for over two years—and even now, after multiple writing projects—I still convince myself it won’t be needed. But I’m always mistaken. AutoCrit is a vital last step before I send my manuscript off to my editors. Not only does it save them time and effort, it saves my blushes… which would be multitudinous.

In conclusion, AutoCrit is no magic solution, but it will certainly help you refine your writing skills. And in such a competitive field, we need all the help we can get.

The AutoCrit Website
AutoCrit on Facebook
Autocrit on Twitter (@EditingWizard)

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Fear of Flying – the what makes a good character blog hop

Hi there writery fans. After the phenomenal success of my last blog hop entry (or possibly because no-one else was available), I’ve been asked by my Aussie mate, top movie reviewer and fantastic author, Susan May, to take part in another um… blog hop. Hooray!

Check out Susan’s blog hop here: Character whispering & what does Scarlett O’Hara and Hannibal Lecter have in common? 

The theme this time is ‘what makes a good character?’ To answer this, first take a look at how writing ‘works’. We writers put down words, and the reader, reads them. Are you with me so far? And it is in this reading that quite an amazing thing happens. The reader brings all their experiences, everything that has happened to themthe people they’ve met, what they’ve said and done, the good and the bad, all of itto that moment. So no matter how we describe a scene, or a person within that scene, the words we use will always illicit a different response. This has always fascinated me, especially when creating characters. That’s why I always prefer to always ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’. Its basic writing technique, but the most successful characters are always the one’s we feel we know and the best way to get them across is to see them in action.

Okay, I’ve done my intro paragraph and now comes the the questions section. I’ve already blathered on about my last release, the Cowl Omnibus (IronSythe Sagas), recently in this blog, so instead, and because I’m presently working on the sequel, I’m gonna chat about my sci-fi adventure ‘Into The Rip’ series, starting with BLUE INTO THE RIP.

So to the first question…

‘What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
He’s called Blue and fictional. Here’s how I introduce him:

BLUE, THE colour of the sky, of the ocean, of certain stars and planets and the hue of the bluest eyes you have ever seen.

The lanky teenager, nicknamed Blue after those same eyes, ran headlong through the trees. He criss-crossed the rising ground, creating a perfect search pattern in the near total blackness. Dim light from a thin crescent moon was nothing more than flecks of ghostly white poking through the packed canopy. Gloomy, mysterious and dangerous, the crag upon which sat Dooleys Wood dominated the local landscape like the giant head of an old grizzled ape.

Blue is every disaffected, morose, troubled teen. Except that there is nothing everyday about his intelligence. He’s a fifteen-year old with super-brain. He’s also possess a mish-mash of genetics—he’s a melting pot of races but does not resemble any one of them. His features are odd—rounded and pointy in the wrong places. Brown-skinned, blue-eyed and absurdly tall, standing at six-foot five, he’s pretty much unmistakable, which is a shame as he’d like to disappear into the background.

The name ‘Blue’ came from how I work. I was looking through a few old notebooks for inspiration (yes, I was in that awful, desperate place) and found this perplexing set of words in a pretty impressive circle of pen: ‘Blue Into The Rip’. I knew immediately that this referred to a character called ‘Blue’ and that he was going to go through some space or time rip. And that’s how he came about.

When and where is the story set?
Now there’s a question. Let me try and answer without giving to much away. BLUE INTO THE RIP is set in present day England, in the future of year 2454, in London, in an enormous and impressive habitat under what is left of the Amazon Jungle, in space, upon The Charles Darwin Spacestation, and above the rings of the planet Saturn. Oh, and inside a giant stalactite.

Most of the action takes place on a flooded, globally warmed future Earth, so the novel can be classed as a ‘Cli-Fi’. Regardless of the debates about global warming, which I tire of, there is no doubt that the Earth is presently heating up, with the possibility of another ice-age if it doesn’t cool down again pretty soon. With this in mind, I set about thinking about this future world and what will be the end of civilisation as we know it. Yet the novel is not a survivalist, doom and gloom story. The humans here formed themselves into Earth Corps, who are pretty much over all that ‘end of the world’ stuff and are happily building new civilisations off-world. With the discovery of the rip, there is plenty of scope for this series to be set anywhere in the universe.

The sequel, BLUE INTO THE PLANET, is an off-world story, and as I don’t want to give anything away, that’s all you’re getting…

What should we know about Blue?
Like most adolescents, he’s his own worst enemy. Add a superior brain, a photographic memory and a bad attitude and you’re pretty much there. But this is a temporary veneer that hides his true personality. He’s altruistic, honorable and very loyal. Back in the past at school, he is very different from everyone else. He looks odd, he’s tall and, he believes, possesses stupid, big googley eyes and calls himself ‘The Freak Boy’.

In the future, he’s forced to join a military academy and has to live with cadets who at first he hates, but slowly comes to respect. He is no longer special, he’s just one of the guys and this allows him to relax… mostly, until I hit him with some pretty shocking plot developments. HAHAHA!

What is the main conflict that messes up his life?
Blue is stolen to the future, but when he gets there, it turns out he’s not wanted. He finds out he’s a minor player in a bigger story. But he doesn’t care about any of that. To him,the future world is all temporary until he can find a way home to the past. He brings with him his sarcasm, his anger and resentment and consciously tries to not fit in—and anyway, why should he bother?

As a result, he gets into arguments and into trouble with Commander Dauntless, the Academy’s honour-obsessed nutter of a commanding officer. But soon, Blue’s single-mindedness comes back to haunt him and he finds himself in danger of losing everything important.

What makes great characters?
‘Believability’. Us humans are pretty complex creatures. Most of us at sometime or another have been selfish, cruel, angry, irritated, cocky, sad, lonely, lost, pushed aside, etc.—the list goes on. This gives a rich vein from which to create characters—characters that we understand from the inside. Great characters tap into these emotions and allow us to feel the same emotion. Some writers go into long, descriptive passages to achieve this, some use just a few words, but however we do it, they must have ‘believability’. Get into the mind of your cocky character, channel your actual emotion into that character, revel in them. You may feel a little dirty afterwards, but hey, it’s ‘art’ so we’re okay.

So why ‘fear of flying’?
I’m frightened of flying. It’s a an awful phobia. I’m flying in a few days so it’s very much on my mind. But I get on the damn plane, give myself over to it and suffer until it’s over. And that’s what we must do with those difficult characters. Sure, it’s easy to write a character we’re familiar with, but sometimes we have to go into the mind of someone we don’t like. Don’t shy away. Let them take you over for a while. The turbulence might scare you, but you can always have a cocktail at the airport bar afterwards… and work on better similes!

Blue Into The Rip 3DPlug your book
As if I needed a reason. Tsk. BLUE INTO THE RIP is the first novel of the INTO THE RIP series. here’s the blurb and stuff:

A Young Adult, Science Fiction, Climate Change, Time-Travel Adventure.

Blue didn’t want to be in the future
They didn’t want him there either…

A rip in the fabric of time, a far-flung globally warmed future, a flooded Earth and the only remainder of civilisation – a militaristic organisation living underneath ‘Desert Amazon’…

Getting back home was the only thing that mattered to messed up, mixed race teenager, Blue (named after his stupid, googly blue eyes) – and that was the problem – home was over four hundred years in the past.

Ripped forwards in time from his odd hippy parents, their peculiar house and his lonely school life, Blue had only one thing on his mind: return. But how does a lowly cadet in a militaristic Academy living in a post-apocalyptic future achieve such a goal, especially with the distractions of girls, pilot training, spacewalks and his almost constant unpopularity?

The more Blue found out about this flooded, gung-ho annoying future, about himself – who and what he was (was he even human?) – and the equally disturbing and shocking truth about his ‘parents’ – the more he realised getting home was the only solution. Wasn’t it? If Blue knew one thing, it was that he would at least try.

You can get this book absolutely free is you subscribe to my newsletter. yes, FREE! See the subscribe form below, or you can buy BLUE INTO THE RIP from the following links… Enjoy!

Amazon Kindle US | UK
Barnes & Noble US | UK
iTunes Store US UK
Smashwords (Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, iPad/iPhone, Palm, PDF etc.)
Paperback US | UK

Book 2, BLUE INTO THE PLANET is nearing completion and will be out in the next couple of months.

And there we have it. Another blog hop done and dusted! Hopefully I’ve not scored too highly on the pretentiousness meter this time… hopefully.

So who’s next on the blog hop? Um, right. Yeah.  should’ve got someone. Bugger. I am flying in a few days, so blame that. Watch this space…

 

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Why using a professional editor is a no brainer

In my last self-publishing piece, why self-publishing is a no brainer, I mentioned the importance of a professional approach to your writing. Today, I will focus on the editing process.

So what do I mean by ‘professional self-publishing’?
The answer is a simple one. As self-publishers, we should try and act as if we were signed with a major publishing house. We need to engage skilled editors like David Gatewood and others to edit our work professionally. And, most importantly, we must respect the editing process—there is no point in paying for editorial services if you then ignore their revisions and suggestions. We also need to produce well-designed covers and market our novels effectively.

EditingEditing, editing, editing!
One of the biggest criticisms of self-publishing is one of quality. Modern publishing allows anyone to write in the morning and publish the same afternoon. This is an empowering notion, but it does mean that the lure of self-publishing can lead to unfinished, un-edited work finding its way on to the electronic shelves.

I’m not knocking writers—far from it (if self-publishing was around twenty years ago, I would have been publishing unedited novels—I wouldn’t have known any better),  instead, I want to urge authors to resist the pull of the publish button until they have done everything to ensure their writing is the best and most professional it can be. This is a competitive market, we need every chance we can get!

And regardless of how many great indie writers there are out there, this criticism of quality is still one of the biggest sticks that those who support the traditional publishers use against independent publishing. And that’s why a professional approach is paramount.

Satisfying your reader’s needs
As I mentioned in my previous article, one of the great things about self-publishing is that readers do not care if you are self-published—if your novel has a flowing, engaging story, is well written and professionally edited, you are satisfying their needs as readers.

A common mistake a lot of new writers make is to only show their work to friends and family. Of course they are going to be impressed, but crucially, they do not have the experience to give them the informed feedback they require and are more likely to be supportive rather than objective—which leads me onto the most important tool of any writer:

Objectivity

I often say: ‘You cannot pay enough for objectivity’. And you just can’t. It is gold dust to the writer. Not sure what I mean? Objectivity is the opposite of ‘subjectivity’. When writing, we are working in an entirely subjective environment. We see all, we know all and we have to try and convey what we know to the reader. Ack!

A common way of achieving this valuable objectivity or distance from your story/novel, is to ‘put the manuscript in the bottom drawer’. This means leaving your novel alone for a month or two so that when you read it again, you see it with fresher, more objective eyes.

An editor is better!
The bottom drawer method is a good technique, but an editor will give you professional objectivity and a written critique. For new writers, this can be daunting. You send off your cherished masterpiece to your chosen editor who more often than not comes back and tells you it’s full of holes. It can be embarrassing, you may feel insulted or even depressed, but the longer you expose yourself to this process, the better a writer you will become and the more you will realise just how valuable their objectivity is to your writing process.

Instead of waiting six weeks with your novel languishing in the ‘bottom drawer’, you can send it off to a professional who can give you better objectivity. Editors not only point out spelling errors, and bad sentences, they also spot character inconsistencies, plot flaws, and all your bad habits.

It’s the same process that a signed author would go through, except instead of waiting months for your revisions, you can get them back in a week or two. And, depending on the agreement with your editor, you can send your work back to them again and again until it’s in tip top condition.

If you are very lucky, like I am, you might find a group of willing editors to edit your writing for the pleasure of working with you. I have four such editors, each with a different emphasis, who collectively give a very full and rounded editing experience. But there are a host of editors out there who you can professionally engage to help give your masterpiece that final polish, or as is usual in my case, a very deep clean!

Sending your work away to professionals is also a good whipping stick—it can really focus you on those final set of revisions, particularly if you want to get value for money.

Copy-editing to reduce your editor costs
The most useful task I do before sending any manuscript away, is to go through my invaluable list of copy-edits. You can find them all here, in my guide The Complete INDIE Editor – 55 Essential Copy-edits for the Professional Independent Author.

The-INDIE-EditorThese Copy-edits include:

• Redundant adjectives & overuse of adverbs
• Over thirty overused words & phrases such as that, it, up/down, was/were, had, even, got, etc.
• Overuse of exclamations and the ellipsis
• Proper use of italics, quotations & capitalisation
• Word pairs & homophones
• How to handle numbers & time
• And descriptions of flow, show not tell, writing tenses, dialogue handling and loads more.

BUY
Amazon Kindle US | UK
Barnes & Noble NOOK US | UK
Kobo  US | UK
Smashwords (Sony Reader, Palm, PDF, etc.)

The upshot of sending a well-polished manuscript to your editor is that they will focus on the more important aspects of your novel, not just the everyday mistakes we writers make um… every day.

And there we have it, and I even managed a little plug at the end. Nice. Next, I’ll be looking at cover design and some of the pitfalls to avoid when selling your novels through social channels.

Want to discuss this with me further? Then leave a comment or use my forum.

 

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