Monday, August 17, 2020

Your Best Writing May Not Be What You Think

 By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

One of the biggest writing problems I see among people in my mentoring program, and others who hire me to improve their writing, is that they're afraid to write like they talk. Perhaps they fear “wordiness”, but sometimes writing like you talk is less wordy.

For instance, they never use one-word sentences. Or fragments. Those, for sure, are not wordy!

They refuse to start sentences with words such as "and" and "but" because an elementary teacher way back when told them not to.

They try to sound important when they write. So they use long words in long sentences that make up long paragraphs.

They remove all slang from their writing so it's clean and pure. And often, boring.

Business coach Michael Angier agrees.

"Too many times, I see people who are good verbal communicators try to put
on a different air in their writing," he says. "It doesn't work. It's much
better to be conversational."

Writing like you talk is one of thirteen tips Michael offers for writing clearly and convincingly. It was one of the lead articles in an issue of Joan Stewart’s free subscription newsletter, The Publicity Hound.

Lisa Cron’s book, Wired for Story (, shows us how humans were storytellers long before they were writers and how the processes in their lives wired us for story. Story and anecdote. It works for articles like this. It works for novels—great novels. And you’ll see it appearing more and more often as part of news stories. Another book I recommend is Tom Chiarella’s Writing Dialogue ( published by Writer’s Digest. You may find it inexpensively on Amazon’s New and Used feature.

In the newest book in my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writing, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically, I remind authors that the best blurbs and endorsements come from people who compliment their books and their style in off-the-cuff conversations. When asked to write a blurb or endorsement, the same people may use language that is stiff, official—and unconvincing. I tell them to ask their contacts (or reader) if they can use what their reader just said to them rather than having them back up and make it into a brittle, lifeless twig.

And in the second edition of my Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips, to be released September 1 and now in pre-sale mode on Amazon, I talk about how fear of breaking grammar rules (that often, by the way, aren’t really “rules” at all!) leads to unnatural dialogue. This little book also contains some of the word trippers I see most frequently in my clients’ work, and that is where there is no room wiggle room for making the wrong choice.

Readers probably spent many years reading staid textbooks. They may now prefer to learn what they need quickly. When authors make their point with stories (and do it colloquially), they find their readers more easily bond to them. It’s about connection. Think loyalty.

Have you ever wondered why many are turning to the Web for information even at the risk of fake news and unprofessional advice. They are in a hurry. They’re after easily absorbed information (retention). You can provide both. Sure. Watch for wordiness. But don’t skip the story your readers’ brains crave. They’ll love you for it. 


About the Author

Carolyn Howard-Johnson writes fiction, poetry; and the #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning third edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; . and the second edition of The Great First Impression Book Proposal. The newest in the series is the second edition of her Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers. Her blog, lets authors recycle their favorite reviews absolutely free. Find submission guidelines in a tab at the top of the home page.


Thank you, Carolyn! If you ever get a chance to meet her in person, do it.

Now, what do you think, readers?

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group and Keep Writing With Fey – Writer Burnout

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

August’s question:
Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

I guess when I began writing my series, The Circle of Friends, I had no idea what genre it would be. I knew it would be about friendships, life, and romance, but that was about it. At first they were classified as YA, but now that we have New Adult, that is where they fit best.

There is one month left to enter the IWSG Anthology Contest. The genre is science fiction and the theme dark matter. Please see the website for details.

Keep Writing with Fey Blog Hop: Share your story about writer's block, depression, and/or burnout and how you overcame it or what you are currently doing to heal.

After I finished my series, I’d planned on writing a second book to go with Overcoming Obstacles with Spunk aimed at teens. But at that point, my heart wasn’t in it and the project fizzled.

It was a couple years later that I realized – I’d written a book for my leadership and dream-setting seminars. Why not write one for my book publishing and promoting seminars? (That’s how How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now! came about.)

Of course now, I’m just too busy with Dancing Lemur Press to finish anything! But I have been working on my next book.

Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!

When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:
• Writer's block
• Depression
• Writer's burnout
• What a writer doesn’t need to succeed
• Finding creativity boostsv With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.

Find Keep Writing With Fey at Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes /Kobo / Goodreads

Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout.

Have you written in a genre that surprised you or do you battle writer’s burnout?

And Voyagers: The Third Ghost is on sale for a limited time, down from $4.99 to $2.99 at Amazon!