My sister is part of a blog tour. Meet her main character in her upcoming Arthurian Parody.
Just like with Facebook, I always said I would never join Twitter. I stopped saying that in April when I started an account to promote myself as a writer and editor. I always said “Twitter is for Twerps!” Or when I didn’t self-censor myself, I tended to use a less flattering and vulgar T-word. Now I’ve officially become a Twerson on the Twitterverse.
What the heck am I saying? Just using some Twitter terms to spice up my post. It was all gobbledygook to me in the beginning, especially hashtags. I first noticed these popping up on Facebook. Drove me crazy. Now I understand their use. It’s a great way to categorize tweets, especially considering Twitter gets millions of tweets a day.
I’m in no way a social media expert, but I’m becoming a lot more comfortable with this platform. I’ve still got a lot to learn like how to organize people in groups so my feed doesn’t get bogged down.
I’m currently doing some research at the moment (as well as trial and error) to see how Twitter can best be utilized by writers to enhance their platform–might make a good Tuesday Tip.
So for those of you wondering whether to tweet or not, I recommend joining. It’s a great site to connect with other writers, build a platform, and increase traffic to your blog. Do a little research first. View other writer’s profiles to see what’s working for them; learn about hashtags; read up on how to (and how not to) promote your writing.
Since I’m using Twitter to connect with other writers and strengthen a platform, I’d love to connect with you. If you’d like to connect with me on Twitter, or if you are looking for someone to follow, please post your twitter accounts in comments. Mine is @tbetzner. Also, feel free to respond to the poll below or share your thoughts about Twitter or other social media sites.
We all have our own personal strengths and weaknesses as writers. For instance, my sister is a dialogue guru. Her characters all sound unique, the dialogue sounds natural, and she uses dialogue tags successfully. Believe it or not, my sister and I don’t share talents. My dialogue is not only stilted and sometimes forced, but my characters often go pages without talking to each other. It’s safe to say, this Tuesday’s tip is not going to be about how to write good dialogue–not until I master it anyway.
My point is we all have weaknesses–areas that are holding us back from mastering the art of writing. My tip this Tuesday is to practice what you aren’t good at. It may be you need some practice showing instead of telling, or using active voice instead of passive. You might need to practice writing dialogue, like me. Maybe you aren’t good at describing settings, action scenes, or sex scenes.
Identify your areas of weakness
For some of you, this will be easy. How honest are you with yourself? Let’s be honest, as writers we either think our writing is gold or crap. If you aren’t sure, have someone else read a sample of your writing to locate areas where you need a little polishing.
Find resources that will help you master your flaws. After all, you’d never try to make a car repair or try a new hairstyle without looking up a YouTube tutorial, right?
- Go to the library. You know, that place that has books. Does anyone go to the library anymore? I’ve found dozens of writing resource guides at mine. I also owe them money. Curse you, late fees!
- Hire or talk to an editor. Editors can help you resolve grammar, syntax, and content issues.
- Enlist some help from beta readers. Chances are, if you have a flaw in your writing, your beta readers (not family or friends) were the ones who called you out on it. You can ask them for advice on how to resolve your writing issues.
- Talk to other writers. Find someone who excels in the area you flop. For instance, my sister forgets to describe scenery. I help her by letting her know, as a reader, what I want to have described.
- Lastly, never underestimate the power of Google.
The dreaded P word. We all just want to magically be good at something, don’t we? Well, we can’t be. I’d love to just pick up a violin and start playing, but I’m going to have to practice . . . and purchase a violin and hire an instructor. Off topic. Anyway, say you are practicing writing dialogue, you can draw a comic of your characters and put their dialogue in word bubbles. No artistic skills necessary–just draw stick figures. If you’re practicing writing descriptions, start by writing a description of your bedroom, your office at work, or your cat.
How often should you practice? This is entirely up to you. I recommend a few hours or a day each week–whatever you have time for. Take a few hours to locate a new weakness and polish it until it becomes a skill.
You’ll never get good at something if you don’t do something about it. I could go on tirelessly about my forced, practically non-existant dialogue, or I can find ways to improve it.
Just another great post from my sister. This video is just a joke, but there are people who take it this far when promoting their books. Make sure you aren’t promoting your book wrong.
Contractions are common place in speech. If you say “can’t” or “wouldn’t” in conversation, you aren’t likely to be called out for being “too informal.” However, contractions are still a little controversial in writing. So, how should you use contractions in writing? There isn’t one correct answer, because it all depends on your personal style, your publisher’s house style, and your audience. You’ll get a lot of contradictory advice from editors and writers. After all, you can’t say contradiction without contraction. Some claim that if you use contractions in the narrative, you have to use it in dialogue and vise versa. Others say you can’t use contractions at all. So what is a writer to do? Here is some advice on using contractions correctly.
Examples of common contractions:
- I’m: I am
- Isn’t: is not
- Can’t: can not
- They’d: they would
- Won’t: will not
- Wasn’t: was not
- Shouldn’t: should not
- Wouldn’t: would not
An apostrophe is used to replace all omitted letters.
Example: Do not = Don’t
The apostrophe replaces the extra “o” which is the only sound you don’t hear.
Example: Can not = Can’t
The apostrophe replaces the “n” and the “o” because an apostrophe can replace multiple letters.
Using contractions in dialogue
Most editors and writers will agree, contractions can (and often should) be used in dialogue. They make dialogue sound more natural by mimicking how people actually talk. They can also be used for accents and dialects.
Using contractions in narrative
This is where the controversy starts. There are a lot of people who say you can never, never use them in narrative, but that simply isn’t true. Many authoritative sources have used, or suggest using, contractions in narrative. Famous authors, like Ray Bradberry, have used them. Writer’s Digest uses them. Even the Chicago Manual recommends using them to enhance flow. You just have to consider your audience. If your audience is a college professor, do not use contractions if you want a good grade.The more formal the writing, the less you should use contractions. If you use them in narrative, make sure you are consistent. Never use them where the meaning could be unclear.
Example: “I’d” could be “I never” or “I would never”
Unless the context is clear, don’t use I’d.
Hint: If you use contractions in narrative, make sure you use respected, legit contractions. The list of acceptable contractions is long, so I’ll just give you an example of one that is not. That contraction is “ain’t.”
Rules for Ain’t
I recommend avoiding “ain’t” except for dialogue, because its usage is generally disrespected. It’s a fairly new contraction, but that isn’t the reason it’s so controversial. Using “ain’t” is confusing, because it has a variety of meanings depending on context. Originally created to replace am not, it is now also used to replace are not, is not, has not, and have not. It just causes more confusing than it’s worth. Personally, I don’t like it. I don’t think it even follows the rules. Shouldn’t it be an’t? Where did that “i” come from?
Its and It’s
Its is possessive
Example: The cat ate its food.
It’s means “it has” or “it is”
Example: It’s going to rain, It’s been awhile
They’re, Their, and There
There is an adverb that shows a place or position
Example: He went over there
Their is possessive
Example: Their car is in the shop.
They’re is the contraction for they are
Example: They’re a cute couple.
Placement of contractions
Another common mistake writers make is where they place contractions in a sentence, especially when they place them at the end of sentences. They look terrible and are confusing at the end of sentences.
Example: That is what it’s.
Correction: That is what it is.
Example: He is not, but they’re.
Correction: He is not, but they are.
These tips should help you decide if you will use contractions in your own writing and how to use them correctly. Do you use them in your narrative? How about dialogue? I’d love to hear from you.
This list is long but worth reading. Not exactly uplifting, but information every writer needs to know.
I wanted to share these simple tips with my fellow bloggers. Please check out this blog.
If bloggers all share one common conceit, it’s that we’re hungry for followers. We like the idea that people are reading what we post on the Internet, and we’re always looking for ways to make sure that plenty of people discover our work and that they keep coming back. And while there’s no correlation between the number of followers and book sales (I wish there was, though), having followers can lead to some book sales on occasion.
Here are some tips I’ve found useful at one time or another for gaining followers on my own personal blog. Now, there’s no guarantee that any of these tips will be helpful for your blog. At best, a combination of these might be helpful, but that’s for you to find out. Like any technique in this business we try to increase sales and readers, it’s all trial, error, and learning from the past…
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