writers tips

Writers Tip #70: Dump Your Spouse if They Complain About Your Writing

writers tips

Great tips for soon-to-be great writers

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

I just finished James Frey’s outstanding How-to book for thriller writers, How to Write a D*** Good Thriller (St. Martins Press 2010).

lee child

One of my favorite thriller authors

I learned more about writing in my genre from these 246 pages than I’ve learned since I began writing. Each genre is different. If you try to apply rules of, say, literary fiction, to your thriller, you’ll bore your audience, not to mention drive them away. Thrillers are fast paced, less introspective and more moral than other genres. Don’t mix that up with exploring global warming or the political correctness of current labor laws.

I’ll be reviewing it soon, but wanted to share a truncated list of tips he has at the end of the book. These are reason enough to purchase this book.

  1. Commit yourself to creating strong conflicts in every line of every scene
  2. Decide you will have fresh, snappy dialogue and not a single line of conversation (read the book to see what that means)
  3. Decide to write quickly when drafting. Fast is golden (hard for me to do)
  4. If your significant other complains your thriller writing is taking up too much of your time, get a new significant other
  5. Trick the expectations of the reader and create nice surprises from time to time
  6. Have powerful story questions operating at all times
  7. End each scene or section of dramatic narrative with a bridge, a story question to carry the reader to the next one
  8. Try to be fresh. Don’t use the same old cliches. Be sure your prose is colorful and sensuous
  9. Keep the clock ticking and the excitement mounting right to the climactic moment

About #4–try to educate him/her first. It’s hard to find good mates.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, an IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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4 thoughts on “Writers Tip #70: Dump Your Spouse if They Complain About Your Writing

  1. Hi, Jacqui! These nine tips do serve as a great summary for writers aiming for a great book across all genres of fiction. I’m particularly intrigued with #2 since I don’t recall seeing anyone else draw a clear distinction between dialogue and conversation. I agree with you on #3–a point I’ve seen/heard made before–because drafting fast is a continuing struggle for me. And with respect to #4, I do not have a spouse, but I’ve frequently been inclined to apply that action to my cat Max.

    P.S. My posts are coming, I promise.


  2. LOL! I love that tip! I’d like to turn it around a bit too – my complaint about my boyfriend is that the US Army is taking up too much of his time, hehe!


    • I’ve never heard that tip before James Frey. I wonder what his wife thinks of it. On the other hand, my husband is my biggest supporter.

      My daughter’s Navy job is pretty much the 45-50 hour workweek most of us are used to, sometimes longer or shorter. Is your boyfriend’s different? I was surprised how much like a ‘job’ serving on a warship was.


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