Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Copyright Act Termination Rights





As of 1 January 2013 the Copyright Act of 1978 Section 203 comes into play. This provides for “Termination Rights” where authors can reclaim their works from their publishers after thirty-five years. These old backlist titles are a cash cow for many publishers and litigation lawyers are expecting a flood of complaints from unhappy authors.

There are some big names whose books will be eligible for termination such as Stephen King, Judy Blume, M.M. Kaye, and John LeCarre. Digital publishing is a new innovation since 1978, and that gives these authors an extra impetus to reclaim their rights and self-publish, cutting out the middle man altogether.

Unfortunately the rules for reclamation of rights are messy and complicated and obviously publishers are not going to help authors leave them. Litigation lawyers are anticipating a train wreck as authors try to fulfill the conditions required. Then there’s the added complication of what happens to well-known authors who have sold movie rights etc.

It should be fascinating to see how this unfolds.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why I threw that book against the wall (and broke my ereader!)




Plot holes you could drive a semi-trailer (18-wheeler) through.
They arrive at the party on foot thinking it’s a lovely evening for a walk. Then get into their SUV during the party to chase after the bad guys which includes climbing over fences and running like crazy. Hang on she was wearing high heels and a pretty dress. And she’s doing all this? And where did the car come from? Did they steal it?

Annoying characters.
He’s not Alpha, he’s pig-headed, arrogant, and is not protecting her, he’s using her as a doormat. Or, she’s so stunningly beautiful it makes the reader feel ill and she’s useless. Stands there wringing her hands and lets the villain catch her or the hero use her.

Bad grammar, head hopping that gives the reader whiplash, poor sentence construction, misplaced words, typos.
And so on. Solution—get an editor. Your best friend reading your book and telling you it’s wonderful is great. But you still need an editor.

Lack of world-building
This is most obvious in fantasy/futuristic worlds but is true for any book. If there are two green moons in chapter two, why is there a red moon in chapter ten? If the vampire in chapter six cannot go outside during the day why can the vampire in chapter ten attack the heroine in the middle of the day at the office? If the hero drove south for ten minutes to get to Grandma’s house on page forty why did it take an hour on page 120? As the author you can do anything you like, but you have explain to the reader how it is possible and why it is logical.

There’s lots of other details to get right, but fix these first and you’ll be well on the way to keeping your readers happy.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Watch out for bias in surveys




A while ago a company produced statistics that proved eating chocolate was good for your health. Before you rush out and buy that giant block of fruit and nut chocolate read on.
The survey was commissioned by a chocolate company and hidden in the tiny print near the bottom of the study were the real facts. Eating a small amount of plain dark chocolate is good for your health. Eating a lot of chocolate is not so good.

The lesson to be learned is to check the sources for bias. Who commissioned/organized the survey in the first place?

The same is true for surveys about who is reading books, what genres are being read and so on.
If the survey is based online, you need to expect a higher percentage of readers of digital books. If it is run by a print publisher then readers will be more print oriented and will be more likely to be big readers of whatever genre that publisher produces.

Surveys can be helpful and their information is valuable but check the sources. Watch for bias. And don’t rush to write in a genre you know nothing about on the information in a survey until you’ve checked the facts carefully.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Please sir, get my title right.




If you are inventing your own world, you can call anyone a duke, princess, or whatever you like, as long as you’re consistent within that world.

However, if you are writing a historical novel, or even a semi-historical one, it’s much smarter to follow the correct conventions for titles of nobility.

Back at the turn of the twentieth century in Russia, anyone marrying into or born into a royal family was automatically titled prince or princess. That’s why there were hundreds of Russian princes and princesses hiding out all over Europe when the Russian revolution took place.

British royalty, however, is very different.

You may have noticed that the Queen’s husband is not called the king. He is Prince Philip. He was already a prince before they married, having been born into the Greek royal family. Similarly Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, is not a princess. She’s the Duchess of Cornwall, having been given one of Prince Charles’ secondary titles. Even Charles’ former wife was not actually Princess Diana, although she was popularly known by that name. Her real name was Diana, Princess of Wales. A tiny difference, but one very important to the British aristocracy.

Also, please never have the beautiful, impoverished, non-noble heroine sitting beside the charming Duke or Marquis for dinner. The seating at dinner followed absolutely unbreakable rules and was strictly by precedence. Hostesses spent hours checking volumes such as “Burke’s Peerage” to ascertain whether Lord Snob’s title was older than Lord Whosit’s. The older the title, the higher on the social scale, so therefore the higher up the table they sat.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Eulogy for a Library




I can see both sides of this story. I grew up with books, learned to read before I even started school and have always had a passion for books and reading.
Yet on the other hand I love the idea that I can have a hundred books on my flash drive and read them anywhere. No more storage problems. No more being stuck waiting for someone with nothing to read. No more having to carry a heavy bag of books on holidays (vacation).


An excellent article, worth reading and thinking about.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Awesome Words We Don’t Have In English




The Eskimos have one hundred different words for snow. The Germans have a word that means “a face in need of a fist”. There’s even a word for phoning once and hanging up, hoping the person will call you back, in Czech.

The 10 Coolest Foreign Words The English Language Needs
Some of these are the same as the previous list, but this list has some other good terms, including a couple of fascinating Japanese words for what you pretend to believe and what you actually believe.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy et al




Some years ago I was an amused onlooker as about twenty editors had a fierce and bloodthirsty battle over whether or not the Easter Bunny deserved a capital B for bunny.

I’d edited a book where the Easter Bunny (or possibly bunny) played a minor role. The author had given him two capital letters and that had seemed correct to me.
Little did I know.

The battle raged back and forth for three days with references from the Chicago Manual of Style (the bible for editors internationally) being tossed like bombs into the fray.

Santa Claus gets two capital letters because that is his name, Mr. Santa Claus, just as Ms. Jane Doe or Mr. John Doe would be capitalized. But the Easter Bunny (bunny) is different. Easter is a proper noun so it’s capitalized. But a bunny is just a bunny (lower case) unless his real name is Mr. Bunny.

Then someone mentioned the Tooth Fairy (or tooth fairy). Is she Ms. Tooth Fairy, or Ms. Fairy (lowercase tooth) or… That caused the argument to reignite and continue for another couple of days.

In the end the publisher declared it too difficult to decide a winner from CMOS rules alone and directed that henceforth House Style would be two capital letters for all such characters.

I noticed even Google is sitting on the fence for the Easter Bunny with Wikipedia giving it a capital but the search engine using a lowercase b.

Writing professionals take their job of being completely accurate very seriously. So should all authors/aspiring authors.

Helen Woodall
Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The h-h-h-hesitant heroine




The late, great Barbara Cartland made famous the hesitant heroine. Usually very young, very sweet and very innocent, she was drawn to the older, wicked-but-delicious man (often a rake who’d decided to settle down). Her innocence was frequently portrayed by the use of many ellipses in her speech, and often also by a stutter or stammer. As a means of showing instead of telling, it worked just fine.

However, times change and authors today are urged to use other methods of showing than an endless series of stutters and ellipses.

Think of the movie, “The King’s Speech”. His stutter was world famous, yet in the movie often it was portrayed more by a close-up of his face as he drew on all his resources to speak without stammering, than by dialogue with lots of “T-t-t-today, I-I-I w-w-w-will…” etc.

The same with ellipses. Today’s heroine is much more likely to say “um” than to trail off altogether. “Oh yeah. I um, I’ll get right on it, sir,” is much more contemporary than, “Oh… Yes… I-I-I-I’ll get right on it… Sir.”

Also, remember only about one half of one percent of people worldwide stammer. And most of them are pre-school age children who either grow out of it, or learn to deal with it using therapy. In other words, it’s not a very common problem, unlike wearing glasses, or being partly deaf.

Helen Woodall
Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wordiness, repetition






We’ve talked before about words that don’t add anything to a story and can often be omitted without changing the meaning. Words like just, actually, absolutely, that. Often these words are adverbs, which is probably how adverbs came to get a bad reputation, and some authors have a panic attack at using one at all.

We’ve also talked about phrases which are almost repetition. Phrases like “shrugged his shoulders”, “blinked his eyes”, and “stand to your feet”. Since you can’t shrug anything other than your shoulders, or blink anything other than your eyes, or stand to your knees (that’s called kneeling, not standing) you really don’t need to keep saying the extra bit. “He shrugged”, “he stood”, or “he blinked” is fine.

Here are a few phrases that writers often use to begin a sentence with. Again, they’re not needed. Just head straight to the meat of the message, and tell the reader without the preamble.
I'm writing to tell you that.” “I just wanted to let you know.” “All I can say is.” “As a matter of fact.” “In order to.”

Lastly, always remember you can’t modify absolutes. For example, you are either pregnant, or not pregnant. Whether you are one day pregnant or nine months pregnant, you’re pregnant. Not “a little bit pregnant” or “very pregnant”.
The same with “unique”. It means “one of a kind”. So an item can’t be “very unique” or “somewhat unique”. It either is or isn’t unique.

Removing all these wordy features will make your writing much crisper and clearer, and therefore more powerful.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Trademark Territory




Recently some authors and bloggers have been threatened by huge, rich companies that they will be hauled through the legal system and be sued for their last cent for using a potentially trademarked name. In one case the word was the author’s own legal given name, provable by her birth certificate. In another case, a woman was dragged into court as her personalized car number plate was deemed to be obscene. Once again it was her own legal birth name. Apparently her name means something naughty in another language. A language which wasn’t the one commonly spoken in the country where she lived and where her car was registered.

These things happen. A wise author thinks about them before making her decisions. Naming a particular beverage that made a person drunk, a particular airline whose plane crashed, a particular furniture or electrical company whose product was faulty, is not a good idea unless you have documented evidence that it has happened. Much better to simply say the character had drunk too much “beer”, and that the “chair” broke, or the “plane” crashed.

However, if it is really important to the story to name names, acknowledging the trademark status of those names is a wise thing to do.

And never assume that just because you made a name up, it’s not already a real name and trademarked somewhere. I clearly recall an author trying to invent a name for a hospital in her book and it took her half a dozen attempts to invent one that hadn’t already been trademarked.

Each country has its own trademark office. For the US the place to look is: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/index.jsp

Helen Woodall
Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Palindromes






A palindrome is a word or sentence that reads the same forward and backward. 

When deciding if something is a palindrome or not, punctuation is considered not to count. So, “Madam, I’m Adam” is allowed.
They can be quite simple—racecar, Hannah, eye, radar—or quite complicated: Go hang a salami. I’m a lasagna hog.
They can even be whole words: Women understand men. Few men understand women.

Possibly the best-known palindrome is, “A man. A plan. A canal. Panama.”

Palindromes were popular in ancient times. There’s even a 2D palindrome still around from Ancient Rome (see the graphic above).

Some people get excited about palindromic dates too. Like February 2, 2020: 02/02/2020.

The Simpsons did an episode on “Rise to vote, sir”. Feel free to have some fun designing your own.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The book that can’t wait


An absolutely fascinating concept and a different take on new technology for books.



Helen Woodall
Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Showing instead of telling



This is one of the hardest things for some authors to understand. After years in school of being taught to write long, involved descriptive passages, now there’s an editor/agent/publisher, slashing through their carefully wrought prose demanding they “show, don’t tell”.

Fiction is different from literary writing. In literary writing people want to sit back and picture the scenery described, imagine the inside of the room that’s explained to them, putting each little nick-nack in its assigned place.

In fiction, the reader is turning pages urgently, wanting to know what happens next. Does the villain shoot the hero? Does the heroine escape?

That doesn’t mean we don’t want to know any details about the dungeon where the villain has incarcerated the heroine. It just means the author needs to show the reader instead of telling her.

Instead of:
The dungeon walls were solid stone, dank and slimy. The heroine took great care not to let her delicate skin touch against the hard stone.
Try something like:
The heroine stared at the long red graze on her arm where it had knocked against the solid stone walls of the dungeon as the villain thrust her inside. She tore a strip off her petticoat to wipe the slimy dankness off her pale skin, hoping antibiotics had been invented in this story.

Helen Woodall
Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Grammar Guru explains Oxymorons






An oxymoron is a figure of speech that’s designed to link opposites. Some of them are so much a part of everyday speech we don’t even notice how ridiculous the phrase is until we stop and think, like “deafening silence”, “paid volunteer”, “sweet sorrow”.

Think about it for a moment. A volunteer is someone who freely donates their time. Once they’re paid they are a worker. They may be an employee, or a casual worker, or a day laborer. But the one thing they are not, is a volunteer.

Some oxymorons are just people getting lazy about language. “Found missing”. If it’s found, it’s no longer missing. Or do you mean you discovered that it was missing? “Working holiday”. Are you working or are you on holiday? Is this a business trip or a vacation?

Some oxymorons were titles or names given in all seriousness, but because of what has happened since then they’re now considered an oxymoron: military intelligence, civil servant, advanced basic.

Some more examples of lazy language are “exact estimate” or “almost exactly”. Come on people, did you guess, or do you know?

“Plastic glasses” and “freezer burn” are examples of how language has changed over time. Glasses are often no longer made of glass, and it is quite possible to burn food by inaccurate freezing.

Check your writing. Are the words you’re using just common usage or are you being sloppy, lazy or inaccurate?

Or my “only choice”, my “mandatory option”, may be to delete some “pretty ugly” writing when it’s “even odds” you’ll leave your reader “clearly confused”.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Can you really do that?




We have reached a very exciting part of the book. The villain has captured the heroine. The hero races to rescue her and begins to fight the villain.

The heroine wrings her hands and bites her lips.
Really? If she’s that much of a helpless baby I’m surprised the hero wants her. Can’t she at least turn on her heels and grab a vase to hit the villain over the head with? No, not the priceless Ming Dynasty vase, but perhaps the ugly one Great Aunt Bertha gave her.

Having made her no longer Too Stupid To Live, let’s improve the clichés around her actions. We’ve removed “wrings her hands” because she’s going to “grab the vase” instead. But bites her lips? Go on try it yourself. Bite both your lips. Come on, have a go.
You can’t can you? You can bite your top lip, OR bite your bottom lip, but you can’t bite both lips at once.

Now let’s fix, “turns on her heels”. Try that. Rush away from the computer and turn on your heels.
It’s not as easy as it sounds is it? And it’s quite a slow action.

That’s the problem with clichés. We’ve read them in stories so often we think they explain the scene. But when you examine them, they actually spoil your scene, taking all the drama out of it.

Now, go away and write some stuff she can really do. And please don’t make her a crybaby or TSTL.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Alpha or Ass




Most readers love an Alpha hero. A big, strong man with a can-do attitude who puts the heroine and her needs first in his life. He may pick her up and throw her over his shoulder, or lift her onto his horse, and then they ride off into the sunset together.

Some heroes push the boundaries somewhat, telling the heroine what she can and can’t do. This can still be fulfilling, forcing her to see where her thoughts are wrong or where she truly needs help.

But then there are the heroes who are arrogant and idiots, not Alpha at all. These men are not carrying the heroine away for her own good, or to save her from herself, but because it fulfills their own needs to be bossy or macho. They are using her to cover up inadequacies in their own personalities, instead of helping the heroine to grow, develop and understand how much she is loved.

Look at your Alpha hero. Is he dominant or domineering? Is he an Alpha or an ass? If his first priority is himself and his own aggrandizement, not his heroine and her interests, throw him out and tell your heroine to choose another man. One more worthy of her respect.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

History is more than wallpaper




First, let me preface this blog by saying this is my opinion. My blog, my opinion. Some will disagree with me.

I like a historical novel to have real historical details included. Characters who act as if they lived in that time, subject to the rules and traditions of that period. Genuine historical facts: buildings that existed at that time, or entirely made-up scenes but ones that are time-appropriate.

I do not like Ancient Romans who do up the zipper in their pants, Renaissance women who go to the bank and empty their account before leaving home, or nineteenth century heroes who hop on eBay to buy a gift for the heroine.

I understand that authors are creative people and have no problem at all with those who invent their own worlds and mix up whatever details they feel like throwing into the book and stirring together. As long as the world they create is consistent, as far as l’m concerned they can do whatever they want.

But when someone writes a historical novel, I want genuine, researched historically accurate places, people, situations and characters. Not a bit of historical wallpaper pasted on here and there. Wikipedia isn’t one hundred percent accurate, but it takes only a fraction of a second to check whether zippers were invented yet, whether an ordinary house had electricity, and to bring up pretty pictures of the clothing of that day.

If you’re the kind of author who can’t be bothered checking facts, but like the idea of olde-worlde things, do your readers a favor and write fantasy. Please.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Watch out for those zeugmas




When used intentionally a zeugma may be witty and clever. When used unintentionally the reader may also fall out of her chair laughing. But at the author, not at the story.

A zeugma joins two parts of a sentence together with a single verb or noun that may only refer to one of them (that’s an oops!) or may refer to both of them in a different way. (That’s when it may be very clever, or then again it may still be an oops).

A famous example of a zeugma from Star Trek: The Next Generation: “You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit.” In this sentence, the word “execute” applies to both laws and citizens, and as a result, has a shocking effect.

“On his fishing trip, he caught three trout and a cold.” (Wordoftheday.com)

“She looked at the object with suspicion and a magnifying glass.” (Charles Dickens)

When Zeugma Goes Wrong

“Sitting by the fence, the dog barked at the cat” is an example of when zeugma goes wrong. If you wrote that sentence, you may think that you are making it clear that both the dog and the cat are sitting by the fence. However, you have actually created a dangling modifier. Due to the placement of the word “sitting,” it is unclear as to whether the dog, the cat or both of the animals are sitting near the fence.

Another example of such a construction is as follows: “Walking by the tree, the child waved to her friend.” Again, who is walking by the tree? One child or both of the children?

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bar Jokes for Grammar Geeks



·         A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.
·         A dangling modifier walks into a bar. After finishing a drink, the bartender asks it to leave.
·         A question mark walks into a bar?
·         Two quotation marks “walk into” a bar.
·         The bar was walked into by the passive voice.
·         Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They drink. They leave.
·         What would have happened had a subjunctive walked into a bar?
·         An antecedent walked into a bar, and they ordered a drink.
·         An ellipsis walked into a bar…
·         Bartender asks a woman what she wants. “An entendre,” she says. “Make it a double.” So he gives it to her.
·         An alliteration traipsed into a tavern, where it tangled tempestuously with an insistent, illiterate intern.
·         A typo wakled into a bar.
·         A rabbi, a priest, and a cliché walk into a bar.
·         Two possessive apostrophe's walk into the bar as if they owned the place.
·         A subject and a verb have a disagreement in a bar, and one of them pull out a pistol.
·         A heedless homonym walks into a bar. You think he wood of scene it write in front of him.
·         The Oxford Comma joined in a high-spirited debate at the bar that included his parents, Ayn Rand and the Bishop of Canterbury.


If you don't understand any of these jokes, please feel free to leave a comment or email me.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sentence length




Way back in the eighteenth century, or thereabouts, sentences were long because ladies sat in their drawing rooms, while Mama read out the latest book, sentence by sentence, for the young women to dissect, also sentence by sentence, comma by semicolon, while they all discussed all the descriptions therein. It was only after a page or three they would stop to work out the actual story behind the sentences. These days an editor would put a big fat red line (or possibly a track changed red comment) on the opening sentence of this blog and say “49 words. Too long. Cut into 3 short sentences for clarity”.

Readers today want their description in bite-sized chunks. They don’t want to stop and decide whether the punctuation required an extra comma or semicolon here or there, or if the curtains on the withdrawing room windows would have been prettier with an extra ruffle of French lace. They want to know if the villain catches the hero right now.

As a fiction author, your job is to keep the reader reading right to the very last line of the book. Only then do you want them wondering about window decorations or anything other than the characters and what is happening to them.

Of course you do need to vary the sentence structure somewhat. Every sentence starting with “The hero…” gets boring fast and will not keep the reader entertained. As for the curtains, show them flapping in the breeze, the French lace billowing (or whatever). Your reader will fill the gaps to their own satisfaction.

And yes, sentences can be too short. Fragmentary. Boring. Although fragments can add a lot of tension to a pivotal scene. But don’t do it too often.

Keep writing!

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Friday, October 12, 2012

And the best dialog tag is…




When you decide to write popular fiction, some of the things your High School English teacher carefully drummed into your mind have to be discarded. One of those things is always using different words for dialogue tags.

Now, when you write poetry, every word counts. Each syllable has to have rhythm and meaning. Therefore repeating a word is wasting an opportunity. The writer wants the reader to remember each word, to say the lines out loud and ponder them, getting every ounce of meaning from each word.

But with popular fiction, the writer’s aim is to keep the reader reading all the way to the end of the book. The last thing this author wants, is for the reader to jump up for a dictionary or thesaurus, decide to make a cup of coffee while she’s up, and never finish reading the book. If she doesn’t finish reading this book, she’s unlikely to buy any of your other books.

Therefore instead of saying “he exhorted”, a better thing to do is show him waving his arms and exhorting the crowd, and use the dialogue tag at the end, “he said”. That way you’ve enticed the reader with the drama of his actions, and not pulled her from the story with your dialogue tag.

Almost all of those fifty words your English teacher made you memorize to use instead of "said", can be demonstrated with actions. SHOWN to the reader instead of telling the reader. And therefore replaced with the best dialogue tag of all, the one readers never even notice. Said.


Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Timelines




Every book has a timeline. Even if the author never mentions what day of the week it is when an action takes place, the reader is mentally slotting that scene into a timeline before this happens, yet after that has happened.

Sooner or later the characters will eat a meal, go to work, sleep, or do something else time specific. That’s when your timeline must make sense. You’ve probably all read books or watched movies where the characters eat lunch twice in one day or the sun sets right after they’ve gone to work. For many readers, that’s enough to have them throwing the book at the wall.

If you don’t want to say, Monday May 6, that’s fine, but make sure the weather, the flowers and the sun fits your location for that time. Then keep a written timeline through the book so the right amount of time has passed before they go swimming at the beach, or cross country skiing in the mountains.
On your spreadsheet track their meals, the number of evenings that have passed and ensure that everything dovetails nicely.

That way you won’t have the kind of problems a certain movie has, where the characters stand on the beach and watch the sun set in the EAST.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

So all you ever wanted was an advance? Beware.




All many authors want, is to be offered an advance. Even though many advances are actually less than an author receives from ebook royalties, there is still glamor surrounding the author who can brag she was given an advance.

Well now the seamier side of advances is being revealed. Not only do many authors have to wait years to get royalties above their advances, now a publisher is suing authors to get the advances back, even when their other books have earned way more than the advance given!

Dear authors, read and beware.


 
Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Passive Voice is to be Avoided



A writer is said to be using passive voice when the subject of the sentence is who it happens to, rather than who dun it. Very occasionally this may be a good way to build up tension in the story, but as a general rule, it slows the story down and lifts the reader out of the action. Therefore it’s best to avoid using it.

The door was opened by the hero as he entered the room.

Seriously, that’s a pretty boring sentence. It’s passive.

The hero opened the door and entered the room.

That’s better.

Better still would be actions showing us how the hero entered the room. Most people open the door first. That's not exactly newsworthy. Did he kick it down? Slam it open? Peek around the corner first to see if the heroine was inside? Any of those would not only be active voice, but much more interesting to read.

Also they show us what happens instead of telling us, which is what the author should be aiming for.

The hero opened the door. He was angry.

Yes, so what.

The hero kicked the door open and raced into the room, fists clenched.

Ah, now we’re with him, wanting to read on.

 

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

 

 


Friday, September 21, 2012

Plurals



To make a word plural, mostly you just add s. NEVER 's. The apostrophe indicates possessives.

If you're confused about apostrophes, check out my previous post (http://helenwoodallfreelanceediting.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/apostrophes.html )

 Grammar Monster explains how to form a plural very well.


Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to write a really good book

 
 
“Shattered Magic” by Rebecca York
This book is a must-read for every aspiring and published author wishing to improve their craft.
This is not a new plot. You’ve read it a thousand times before. But the characters and world are so good, the book is alive, fresh and enticing.
My review of the book is here:
 
Helen Woodall
Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.