writers tips

Writer’s Tips #10: Be Positive

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. I’ll point them out. They’ll come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments. Please add comments with your favorite editing fixes.

Readers like to be uplifted, not depressed. They want to know how the heroine is going to win, not all the reasons they’ll fail. This doesn’t mean you should recreate Pollyanna–feel free to plot impossible problems. Just make sure your fans have a reasonable hope the protagonist can resolve them.

How do you set that mindset? Tell us what was/is, not what wasn’t/isn’t.

  • No: It wasn’t dark enough to hide her
  • Yes: She hid in the deepening shadows
  • No: She wasn’t impressed with his speech
  • Yes: She was bored with his speech

It gives power to your writing, makes your story upbeat rather than negative.

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

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7 thoughts on “Writer’s Tips #10: Be Positive

    • When I first learned this rule, I’d never realized that writing should be couched in positives–yet it makes sense. In the same way that telling kids, “Don’t jump on the bed” should be replaced with “Jump on the floor”. Negatives make people feel… negative. And negative readers stop reading.


      • You’re awesome, thanks for sharing this! It makes total sense. Every trade has its proper techniques and I’m so glad to learn every little nuance I can. So now I’ll go back and read over my manuscript (maybe halfway through) to search for any negatives.
        Thank you again and keep ’em comin’!


      • Hey, AMF, it’s amazing the difference it makes. I did a search for ‘not’ and ‘n’t’ and figured a way to eliminate over half. Re-reading the sections–they felt so much more powerful. Good luck!


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