There’s always something to learn, no matter how far along the publishing path you may be. Here are few jewels we’ve found to be helpful, regardless of where you may be in your journey.
Introduce flashbacks with past perfect, then revert to simple past for duration. Close flashback and return to the present with another past perfect. “She’d always known they were an item when their eyes had first met. She remembered that first time….”
Feed your inner editor by reading others’ work with a critical eye. Often what jumps out is something you do as well.
Read a variety of books and genres, those written by those more skilled than yourself as well as those less skilled, to see how far you’ve progressed. You can learn from both. To paraphrase a favorite quote, “No book is ever wasted. You can always serve as a bad example.”
Keep a notebook of descriptions that stand out because they stimulate your senses. The more senses you incorporate into your narrative the more vivid the imagery will be.
Keep a notepad handy everywhere to jot down ideas, whether for a new story, plot twist, or vivid description. Like so many other things, it’s use it or lose it.
Does your story take place somewhere you’ve never been? Use Google Earth to visit vicariously. Detailed descriptions are what make a story come alive.
When using a foreign language that you do not speak, be cautious when using translation software because it often doesn’t reflect the correct syntax. If possible, find a native speaker to confirm whether or not it’s correct.
Increase your vocabulary on a regular basis. Subscribe to services that provide a word of the day or even read the dictionary. You’d be surprised the cool words you’ll find!
When you encounter a word you don’t know, look it up. It may be just the one you’ll need later.
If something throws you out of a story, figure out why. Then make sure you’re not guilty of the same thing. You can learn from all writers, whether more or less skilled than you are.
Always strive to be the best writer you can be. Reading books by established authors published by well-known publishers provides examples of outstanding writing and editing that you should emulate.
Whenever you encounter something annoying or otherwise bumps you out of the story, consider whether you do the same thing, but have been blind to it.
If your story needs some background information that doesn’t involve the main character, introduce it using a prologue so you can start Chapter 1 with your protagonist.
If an event that occured a long time before the story action starts, yet relate to it, cover that with a prologue if it’s too comprehensive for flashbacks.
Epilogues work well to cover “the rest of the story”, i.e, that which relates to the plot, but occurs a long time after the story officially ends. They can even involve minor characters, or in some cases, someone who wasn’t in the story at all.
If you leave a poor review for a book, do the author a favor and tell them why. In some cases it might simply be subjective, since there are few stories everyone loves once they get past Winnie the Pooh. If it’s technical, such as too many typos, say so, giving the author a chance to correct it. If you leave a bad review, explain why. It might be subjective, since few stories please everyone once they get past Winnie the Pooh. If it’s technical, e.g. too many typos, say so, giving the author a chance to fix it.
If you story has a lot of terminology that is unfamiliar to the average reader, consider including a glossary. A few words can be covered by footnotes, though these require special handling in the ebook version.
There are numerous author groups which have a variety of excellent benefits. These are where you can find authors with whom you can do a beta swap or provide editorial reviews.
Other than a chosen few authors, the people making the most money are those that provide promotion services and author classes. Choose them wisely to make sure you get your money’s worth.
When you start a new chapter or section, if a significant amount of time has passed, be sure to tell the reader so s/he doesn’t think something was missed or lost.
If you end a chapter or section with a flashback, be sure to take the reader back to the present so they’re not lost when the story returns to its normal time frame.
Releasing your series as a boxed set can give it new life, perhaps snagging readers who missed out when the others were published individually. Existing fans love having all your books in one place and for anyone who hates cliffhangers, problem solved!
When writing a series, be sure to note at the end that the story will be continued. Include the title and link if it’s already written, a potential release date otherwise. Without such information readers may think you just got tired of writing and quit, leaving them frustrated.