During my promo for my latest prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature. one of my wonderful hosts posted this article I wrote about writing hacks. In case missed it, here’s a revisit:
Writing is hard but satisfying, and an opportunity for the long-sought-after huzzah moment. The harder something is, the more gratifying and the greater the sense of achievement.
If you find writing unduly challenging, try some of these simple hacks:
Have a text-to-speech program read your ms aloud. It gives you a different take on your story.
Hearing your story gives you a different perspective than reading it. You hear the pacing, the bad spelling, and get a sense of the dialogue. There are many free options for this. MS Word has one that’s as good as any I’ve tried. Adobe has one that accompanies even their free PDF reader, and there are many other free ones you can use online.
Avoid qualifiers like mostly, a little, kind of, slightly. Take a stand!
These mitigate the action in your story. Do a Find for these and delete them or use a stronger word.
Be specific rather than general. It’s not a car; it’s a cherry red Ford pickup.
This is a common recommendation. Put readers in the special car that they can relate to, maybe even drove themselves.
Make sure you tell the story with all your senses–visual, smell, taste, touch, and auditory.
If you find your story is boring, even in the action parts, it may be because you aren’t telling it the way readers would experience it–with all the senses. Life requires taste, smell, sight, hearing, and touch. The best stories communicate all of them.
Highlight time-related references in your draft copy and plot them on a timeline so you’re sure they work.
It’s easy to mix up your story’s timeline, refer to an event as though it happened when it’s still in the future. These are unforgiveable and readers will abandon you quickly. Plot the events in a timeline to make sure everything happens when it should.
What are your favorite hacks?
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Shadows of Giants, Winter 2022.