Showing posts with label EditTip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EditTip. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

It's All About Her Humanity – How to Create the Perfect Heroine for Your Story by Alice Orr @AliceOrrBooks #AmEditing #MFRWauthor

Alice Orr - A Time of Fear and Loving

Mike Nichols was a master storyteller, one of the best that ever lived, in my opinion. I saw him in an interview once where he was asked to name the most important element in a story. His answer was this. "All we care about is the humanity."

How to Create the Perfect Heroine for Your Story

He was saying we must put the core of what makes us all human into the characters in our stories. Their dreams and hopes. Their disappointments and losses. Especially how they FEEL about their dreams, hopes, disappointments and losses. All portrayed in well-written scenes.

In Nichols' film Heartburn, from the novel and screenplay by another great storyteller, the fabulous Nora Ephron, humanity is at the burning heart. Rachel Samstat spends the entire story trying to get into, get through and eventually get out of the marriage of her hopes and dreams. She is toppled into disappointment, one she creates for herself by an error in judgment.

Her blunder sets her up for what feels at the moment like the most devastating loss of her life, the discovery that her husband Mark Forman has been unfaithful. Let me emphasize that Rachel FEELS like his infidelity is the greatest loss of her life and this is what matters. How the situation FEELS to the character. How what happens to her impacts her humanity.

We may know she is better off without this lying, philandering so-and-so, but she doesn't FEEL that truth. She triumphs, so to speak, in the end because she comes to grips with that truth, and we FEEL that triumph with her. We also FEEL her heartache. We FEEL her humanity.

The entire story really belongs to Rachel Samstat. It could have been titled The Adventures (or Misadventures) of Rachel Samstat. Similarly, each of our own stories could be titled The Adventures of ________ (fill in the name of your story heroine). Or more accurately The Emotional Adventures of ________.

It's All About Her Humanity

In the romance genre in particular, our audience, our readership, cares most about the humanity of our heroine, and how that humanity acts itself out in our story. How her humanity comes to life on the page in the way she behaves and talks and most of all FEELS. In other words, what our readers care about most is our heroine's Emotional Truth.

Emotional truth is what's really going on in your story. The real, underlying truth of what is happening to your heroine, and all of your characters. What your characters allow us to see and hear on their surfaces can conceal what they are truly feeling. Great stories are all about TRUE FEELINGS REVEALED.

This is exactly like real life, and real life is the mother lode from which you mine your own emotional truth and refine it into storytelling treasure. The precious coins of that treasure are the deeply felt emotions at the beating heart of your story, the deeply felt emotions that make your reader feel deeply too. Like we feel for Rachel Samstat, because we recognize her heartburn and her heartbreak, because at one time or another it has most likely been our own.

I write romantic suspense novels. Scary things happen in my stories. In my latest novel, A Time of Fear and Loving, my heroine, Amanda Miller Bryce, is terrorized by a brute. That same thing happened to me once. Fortunately, Amanda and I both survived. In the meantime, as I wrote the story, she and I both benefited from my emotional truth of that awful experience.

We shared the powerlessness we felt while the awfulness was happening. We shared the shock and numbness we felt after it was over. We also shared our awareness of the way others reacted around us. I didn't need to take notes. All of that was branded on my own, very personal humanity in indelible emotional ink. Now it is branded on my heroine's humanity.

We have all had emotionally indelible experiences. We have been changed by them, traumatized by them, sometimes stopped in our tracks by them. As writers, we get to pass those experiences on to our heroines. We get to convert our own emotional landscapes into the very raw material of very intense, very dramatic, very powerful storytelling.

You know what these stories are for you. Pass them on to your heroine. Write those stories the way your heart FEELS them to be true. Don't worry about whether or not these stories may differ from factual truth. Facts are verifiable. Feelings are not. Someone else's emotional truth may vary from yours, but that doesn't make your truth any less valid. Besides, you are creating fiction, which can be anything you, as creator, want it to be.

Emotional Truth is individual, for you and for your heroine. Her truths are what she honestly FEELS. That honesty gives your story authenticity and makes your heroine come to life on the page. That authenticity gives your heroine her humanity. It is what makes your story really matter, to you as you write it, and to your readers as they read it.

Dig Deep

So, dig down and dig deep. You will know when you hit the humanity mother lode because it will zing straight to your heart, just before you zing it straight onto the page, where you will create the perfect heroine for your story.

For more insights into writing and publishing, visit my blog at

Alice Orr is author of 16 novels, 3 novellas, a memoir and No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells. A former book editor and literary agent, Alice now writes full-time. Her latest novel is A Time of Fear and Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 5. Find all of Alice Orr's books at and other online retailers. Alice has two grown children and two perfect grandchildren and lives with her beloved husband Jonathan in New York City.
Author Website

Monday, August 3, 2020

Creativity Has Enemies – Do Battle Against Them by Alice Orr @aliceorrbooks #MFRWauthor #AmWriting

Creativity Has Enemies – Do Battle Against Them by Alice Orr @aliceorrbooks #MFRWauthor #AmWriting
I'm writing this on a difficult day. I am surrounded by pressure, stress, and expectations – the first phalanx of the Enemies of Creativity. I/we long to let go and dive into the depths of our imaginations, but it's tough to let go when you feel yourself inundated by demands. A responsible person finds it difficult to ignore the lurking expectations of others.

Nonetheless, ask yourself these three questions.

1. Can I lower my standards in some non-writing areas?

2. Do I want my legacy to be the perfectly performed To Do List?

3. Would I prefer to be known for a shelf of books with my name on the spine?

Life is about choices.

The above choices must be made over and over each day in large and small ways. Defeating the external and internal demand-makers takes vigilance on behalf of your writing, and on behalf of your time to imagine and create.

The Puritan Ethic is in the front ranks of the Enemies of Creativity. Our culture too often sends the message that creative work, such as writing, isn't really work at all. Messages like, "If you love something passionately, you should feel guilty about pursuing it," or "If that same something feels natural as air to you, it can't be truly worthwhile."

The most lethal Enemy of Creativity is "Not-Good-Enough Syndrome." The verdict we too often pronounce upon our own writing work is "Not good enough, third rate, why even bother?" I suggest a strong dose of "Get-over-it" for this, and for all of the Enemies. However, I suspect a more concrete battle plan is in order.

Battle Strategy

#1: Calm Down. Anxiety erects a wall of nervousness between you and your own creative spirit. Find a chill-out technique. Deep breathing works for me.

Battle Strategy

#2: Make Your Inner Enemies Your Friends. When you find yourself jangly, insecure, fearful, angry, paranoid, resentful, vengeful, and/or hurt, use it to your writerly advantage. That darkness holds ideas and thoughts you won't have in your sunnier moments. Write them down.

Battle Strategy

#3: Turn Your Outer Life Conflict into Story Conflict. Trouble happens. Trouble is distracting and can go on disturbing your state of mind for quite some time. Yet again, write it down. The details. What was said and done, scraps of setting, what you felt with each of your senses. Exaggerate those feelings. Transfer them to a character in your current work.

Battle Strategy

#4: Do Nothing. Once a day, at least, stare at a wall and let the ideas come.

Employ these strategies against the Enemies of Creativity.

I guarantee that you, and your writing work, will emerge victorious every time.

For more insights into writing and publishing – Visit my blog at

About Alice Orr

Alice Orr is author of 16 novels, 3 novellas, a memoir and No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells. Hero in the Mirror: How to Write Your Best Story of You is in progress. A former book editor and literary agent, Alice now writes full-time. Her latest novel is A Time of Fear and Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 5. Find all of Alice Orr's books on Amazon. Alice has two grown children and two perfect grandchildren and lives with her beloved husband Jonathan in New York City.
Author Website
Author Blog
Amazon Author Page

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Dozen Tips for the Art and Science of Editing, by Kayelle Allen @kayelleallen #AmEditing #MFRWauthor

Editing is an art, and some have a better knack than others. However, editing is also a science. There are rules in grammar regarding form and content. That means every author can take steps to strengthen the ability.
Here are a dozen things I keep in mind when I'm editing my final draft. After all, I'm writing for a very picky immortal king. I have to be careful. I mean, look at this guy. Would you want to make him look bad? Ok, here we go.

12 Editing Suggestions

    Pietas from the Bringer of Chaos series by Kayelle Allen
  1. Edit for passive construction. Omit words like am, was, were, be, being, been.
  2. Use an active verb rather than a conditional one. Example:
    He would do anything his lord asked, without quarrel or quibbling.
    He did anything his lord asked, without quarrel or quibbling.
  3. Substitute concrete terms for abstract ones. Thought vs. mused, guess vs. hypothesis.
  4. Omit vague and abstract terms such as would, could, some, anything, about, only, better, less, etc.
  5. Look for long phrases and shorten them.
  6. Watch out for sentences that begin with conjunctions. (as, because, but, and).
  7. Count the number of times you use the words has, had, and have. Change the tenses of verbs around to eliminate their need.
  8. Make a list of your personal no-no words. These are words you use as crutch words to move you from one point to another as you write, but edit later. Go over your list before you submit it to your editor, critique group, or beta readers. What kinds of words? I've provided a link to a pdf I created for my critique group that contains 128. Feel free to pass it along to friends.
  9. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen to a character, and then focus on words that fit that description.
  10. Grab a good tool. Try the Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This book provides phrases, terms, and other descriptors you can use to convey character emotions. No author should be without this tool. When you grab your own copy, start making a list of phrases you use as well. Each of us has something good to offer. Make the most of your own ability and record these phrases in a workbook, notepad, or document on your computer for later reference.
  11. Any rule can ignored. If you are writing a complex, well-spoken character, you may need his/her speech to contain larger words, or a timid character to use a more passive vocabulary.
  12. Edit with words that fit what your readers understand. It doesn't hurt to have a character who uses words that are difficult or complex, as long as there is context so readers can figure out what's going on. It can help strengthen the complexity of the character to do so. In my Bringer of Chaos series, Pietas is immortal, far beyond "well educated" and a brilliant scientist. Six, his constant companion, is far less knowledgeable. Here's a snippet to illustrate:
"Six, look! These tracks are from ungulates." Pietas knelt and ran his fingers along the tracks. "These are popular with terraformers. They put them on every colonized world. Artiodactyla, to be precise. Bovidae. I suspect a derivative of aepyceros melampus."
"You know, Pi, when you say things like that, you think you're explaining, but you're really not."
"Animals with split hooves. Even-toed. Lightweight impalas. Antelopes."
"What, you couldn't say antelopes?"
Pietas got up, dusting off his pants. "I just did."

Edit with the end in mind

What is the mood of the story? Explore ways to make your writing match it. Use good tools, and take notes about how other authors handle scenes and situations. Find a passage of a book that you enjoy and rewrite it in your own words, trying to make it stronger. See if you can improve it. Then, take a passage of one of your previously published books, and try the same thing.
Editing is a science, but it's also an art, and art takes practice. Never stop trying.
Kayelle Allen is the founder of Marketing for Romance Writers. She pens Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She's also a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she's tenured.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Is it More About Writing, or About Being a Writer? #MFRWauthor

This will be a shorter than usual blog, since I'm borrowing from another blogger. Not to mention running late.
I ran across this blog from Screencraft, a site to advise screenwriters. The post resonated with me and I think will have the same effect on other writers Beware the Writing Zombies Check it out while I get more coffee.
Do you recognize anyone you know? All I had to do was look in a mirror, and also remember the time I spent researching to avoid actually writing. Whether it was to start a new book or continue on with a current project. And I would hate to admit how many times I've delayed starting so I could use the new project for a course.
Maybe I should title this 'Games Writers Play.' Or maybe I should just get back to edits?
Happy writing!

I need a photo here. I think I'll go with a New Mexico sunset, sharing the beauty of where I'm living.

Monica Stoner w/a Mona Karel
Mona's Amazon Page

We retired to the high plains of New Mexico, where I finally put all those seminars and critique sessions to work, not to mention pulled together my courage to offer a story I'd beaten into submission. I am honored to help Marketing for Romance Writers with list moderation, and wherever else my skill set is of value

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Editing Process - Track Changes

I know, I know, I should have loaded this earlier, but it’s still the 28th right? I was having a hard time on how to conclude this…


Okay so you’ve just got your book back from the editor. Your heart beats hard in your chest as you download it into your computer and hope they like it. You open it up and start to look through it.
I have a couple of tips to make your life easier as you work your way through the edits.

Do you have the same program as your publisher? Can you see the track changes? Can you see the comments the editor made? Questions they might have asked? I bring this up because most publishers use MS Word and if you don’t have that program you might not be able to see the comments they could make.

Do you know how to use track changes? In MS Word if you look up at the top of the screen you’ll see a line of words – file, home, insert, page layout, reference, mailings, review, and view.  If you click on the word review you’ll see the bar below it change. About half way across in that lower bar is track changes. If it is on the background it sits on turns yellow. When it’s off it is white. I found out when I get my ms’s back from my editor and I turn it off I can still accept and reject their changes. The great thing is that if I find something I need to fix that the editor didn’t mark I can make my changes without having to approve everything I alter.

 I also like the using the accept and reject section in the toolbar when I have a few of those pesky track changes I can’t seem to find. That shows it to me every time. Normally, I just right click on the underlined section and a box will appear that allows me to do the same thing the tool bar does.
Really early versions of Word put the comments in the body of the documents but as they kept upgrading the program it moved to the side of the document – the one nice thing is they are easy to delete when you have completed the comment or to add to it if you need to. Just right click to delete if you don’t want to use the tool bar up top.

I still haven’t figured out how to end this particular blog. I hope this info helps you and I’ll be continuing with the editing process next month.


Barbara Donlon Bradley wears many hats. She’s a mother, wife, care-giver, author, and editor. She’s a senior editor for Melange Books, and writes for Phaze and Melange books/Satin Romances with over twenty titles under her belt.

Author Sites:

the image I used came from my pinterest account - and from

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Writing Process: Self Publishing #mfrworg

So this month we’ll talk about self publishing...something I haven’t done so don’t know much about, but I’ll do my best.

There are a lot of places where you can publish your own work. I googled it and found a slew of places. A few I recognized were Lulu, Createspace, IUniverse, Xlibris and of course Amazon, but there are a ton more out there. I found out there is even a Readers Digest book on self publishing companies. Each has their good and bad points and you need to find the one that works best for you.

After you’ve done your research you should reach out to other authors who have self published. Find out why they went that route and what worked and didn’t work for them. Which publishers they have tried and which ones they ended up using.

You’ll also need to find a cover artist and editor. Most of these publishers will offer a package deal that cover most, if not all, of what you want. Others seem to do things ala cart. You can also find companies that make covers, have editors – they do everything but publish your book. I did search but couldn’t6 find what I was looking for so those of you who know companies like this please chime in...

I asked some of my self published friends out there what an author should do and Kayelle Allen gave me these five suggestions:

1. Create a company name for your publishing endeavor (she uses Romance Lives Forever Books).
2. Set up accounts well ahead of your first book. You'll want to be on Amazon KDP, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.
3. Create a PayPal account you can use for your books, especially if you want to sell them yourself from your site or at conventions.
4. Find a good cover artist and a good editor. Don't skimp on either one.
5. Make a marketing plan for your books that goes from pre-release through to the next book.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Monique DeVere's Secret to a Polished Manuscript #Novel #MFRWauthor #MFRWorg #EditTip

Last month I shared my secret to writing great dialogue. This month, I'm going to share my secret to a polished manuscript. This is my prized resource for catching mistakes, plot holes, story flow/pacing, clarity, and the dozen other errors we as authors miss because we're so close to our work.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise when I tell you that every author would be prudent to find a way to HEAR her/his story read aloud. You've heard this advice a thousand times before, right? So have I, and I've heard other authors say they print out their MS and read it aloud so they can hear it. Or they read it aloud while recording their voice so they can replay it. I don't know about you, but that seems so last century to me.

I can't imagine sitting around reading my MS for hours on end hoping to hear mistakes. Surely, it's almost impossible to read and listen so carefully as to pick out errors at the same time. Personally, I don't believe we can effectively catch mistakes this way since we're still too close to what we've written. Then we encounter the problem of wasted hours of reading aloud that we'll never get back.

My solution? My biggest helper--outside of my CP--is my beautiful Kindle Keyboard. I love that baby. All I need to do is email my word doc to my Kindle, turn on Text-to-Speech and I can easily listen while I do the school run or clean the house. When I hear something I wish to change, I pause the Kindle, bookmark the page and make a note of what I need to change. If this happens while I'm driving, I'll make a mental note and write it down as soon as I reach my destination. On occasion, I've been known to pull over to the side of the road and make notes. But I'm sure you guys do that too. :)

I've found that using Kindle to read my story while I listen is the best option for me. I've tried using read aloud in PDF but the voice is far too tinny and computer generated for my taste. It distracts and irritate me, and I end up missing mistakes. Plus I lose the on-the-go editing option that I love so much.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is fool proof. I'm simply saying it's another wonderful editing resource to add to our creative arsenal. For instance, you won't notice homophones, but you'll certainly notice flow and pacing. You'll notice tone and characterization, plot problems or whether you spend too much time in your characters' heads, whether your dialogue sounds natural, and a host of other niggles you might've otherwise overlooked.

The Kindle Keyboard isn't the only Kindle that has the Text-to-Speech function. According to the Text-to-Speech: Enabled link in the Product details section of my books on Amazon, Text-to-Speech is available for Kindle Fire HDX, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, Kindle (2nd generation), and Kindle DX. That's a huge choice of read aloud choices I never knew existed until lately. I haven't researched it, so I can't say if the other devices also have a read aloud function. If you know of any other reader besides the ones I listed, please tell us about it in the comments section below.

What do you use to help you polish your MS? Do you listen to your WIP via your reading device? Have you any special, trusted and adored methods for polishing your MS? If so, please share, I'd love to hear your secrets. 

Do leave a comment in the comment section below. Even if you just want to say "Hi!", I'd be thrilled to know you stopped by.

Until next time, write with clarity and style!

Monique x 

Author/Screenwriter Monique DeVere currently resides in the UK with her amazing hero husband, four beautiful grown-up children, and three incredible granddaughters. 

Monique writes Romantic Comedy stories some call Smexy—Smart & Sexy—and others call fluff. Monique makes no apologies for writing fun, emotional feel-good romance! She also writes Christian Suspense with a more serious edge. 

Monique loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her by visiting her HERE to learn more about her and check out her other books.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Writing Process: Meeting your Editor #mfrwauthor #mfrworg

Okay so we’re going to speed up the time clock. You’ve done your homework and you have all your media sites set up. You’re ready for that first sale. For this month’s blog we’re going to deal with a publisher, small or large there are some basic things that every author should know.

The craziest things can affect the purchase of your book. It’s a very subjective world. If the acquiring editor read a book just like yours in a previous manuscript and they didn’t like it they could read yours with that book in mind. They could have a significant other who is a lot like your hero or heroine. If they had a fight recently that could affect the purchase of your book. The last book this editor bought was a lot like yours and it didn’t do get the drift.

But today is your lucky day – you made it through all of that and they bought your book. Do the happy dance! Now comes the hard part. A total stranger is going to take your baby and edit it. They aren’t going to know how many times you edited it before you sent it in. Things you think are gems they might think need to be cut. That sentence that you agonized over for two days is reworded in an instant.\

Always remember this. They are not calling your baby ugly. They are trying to make your book the best it can be. As an author and an editor I know we’re too close to our own work. We’ve edited it to death and our eyes see things that aren’t there and don’t see the mistakes that are there. We all need fresh eyes to see our work.

Next month more on this editing process....


Barbara Donlon Bradley wears many hats. She’s a mother, wife, care-giver, author, and editor. She’s a senior editor for Melange Books, and writes for Phaze and Melange books/Satin Romances with over twenty titles under her belt.

Author Sites: