Dead Verbs Don’t Move! (Revised).

imagesWhen you’re writing a novel, you want to use concrete, everyday verbs. Examples of these are jump, smile, run, look, show, and eat. You can picture the actions in your head and there is no ambiguity.

He ran down the street and jumped over the fence.

Replace weak or dead verbs with concrete verbs as often as possible. I say as often as possible, because there will be rare occasions when the weak or dead verbs are necessary.

Weak verbs usually end in ‘ate’ or ‘ize’. You know the ones. Some examples are finalize, incorporate, anticipate, categorize. They leave a vague sense of action without spelling it out. As a reader you have to reach for it, and these verbs can really way down your sentence.

The bookkeeper utilized her expertise to manipulate the numbers.

Dead verbs don’t evoke movement or images. They stop the action. They allow us to generalize instead of provide the details necessary to picture what is going on. They tell us what’s happening when we want to see. Examples of dead verbs are was, is, were, are, could, had.

Cassandra was angry.


Cassandra picked up the flower vase and threw it into the wall. She stomped across the room, slamming the door as she left.

I think you get the picture. Something to think about. I hope this helped.

-Jan R

Dead Verbs Don’t Move! (Revised).

Different Types Of Rejection – You Mean There’s More Than One?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAToAAAAJGVjNmM0MTJjLWM5NTQtNDU0Zi04MjI0LTU3Yjg3ZGM5Y2MxMwI know I’ve written a few blogs on rejection over the past year, but let’s be honest, if you are a writer, it’s a part of life. If you want to be a writer, you have to learn to accept them graciously and learn from your mistakes, or maybe your not mistakes.

That didn’t make sense, but what I’m trying to say is you may not have made a mistake. There are so many reasons a piece of work is rejected, and it may have nothing to do with the quality of your work.

I ran across an interesting article in Writer’s Digest this month that listed the 5 types of rejection letters that agents send out. I added a 6th rejection, even though it isn’t a written response, it is fairly common.

  1. The form letter – Thank you so much for your interest in our agency . . . . I’ve gotten quite a few of these.
  2. The sympathetic feedback dump – I’ve received this one on a few occasions, and  was happy to receive a real and personal response. The agent offered invaluable advice, and while it was a rejection, she was thoughtful and kind. Instead of saying this is a bunch of crap not fit to publish, she politely said, it’s not ready for publishing.
  3.  The insult – So thankful I’ve never received this one. It’s hard enough to accept rejection without having someone rub it in with discouraging words.
  4. The ramble – You read it over and over and still aren’t sure what the agent is trying to say. Did they accept it or reject it? I have to admit one of my letters was somewhat confusing. While the agent said it wasn’t quite ready, she was very nice and offered suggestions to make it ready. Was she waiting for me to make the corrections and send it back? Was she just helping me out with future queries?
  5. The sales pitch – Your rejection comes with an encouragement to purchase a subscription to the magazine you’re pitching to. So you’ll know what they are looking for.
  6. The none response – It deserves an honorable mention. I think this is one of the worst. You wait and look for weeks and months for some type of response before you accept the fact that they are not interested and aren’t even taking the time to inform you.

Remember, even rejections can offer valuable insight to carry you forward. Use them to your advantage.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Different Types Of Rejection – You Mean There’s More Than One?

Offer Your Support – Be A Friend!

friendship-ancient-roman-how-to.jpgI’ve been in a crazy busy season over the past year. I’ve allowed distractions to get in the way of my blogging and writing. I know we all have times in our lives when we have pulled away from the things we want to do to put out fires and handle a crisis, but I let mine get out of hand and it really impacted my writing time as well as my relationships with fellow bloggers.

I went back to my posts and found a blog I had written several years ago for inspiration. If You Build It They Will Come.  The gist of the blog was if you want to have friends, you have to be a friend. They want just come without an invite.

You can put your thoughts out there in a blog and you might get a hit from time to time, but developing relationships, supporting fellow bloggers, and just taking the time to say hey, can make all the difference in the world.

Something to think about.

-Jan R


Offer Your Support – Be A Friend!

Plot Holes-Just For Fun :-)

Hopefully, at this point, you know what plot holes are. They are gaps or inconsistencies that go against the flow of logic established by the stories plot.

When you are writing, you know what’s happening and you may not question why Suzie is talking to Jeff about needing a job in one paragraph and working for him in the next. I’m not saying you need every little step in order for your reader to follow what’s going on. I’m sure most people don’t want to know she woke up, took a shower, put on her favorite dress, ate some Cheerios, and brushed her teeth with Crest toothpaste before walking out the door to go to work, but if Jeff gave her a job, I think that’s pretty darn important. This is a missing plot piece.

Like I said, you know what’s going to happen next so you can smooth out the inconsistencies in your mind while you’re reading, but your reader does not. They are left confused and questioning how the character got from point A to point B, or why they can’t progress to point C – when it’s the logical choice.

The following pictures showcase a few infamous plot holes that should help you understand a little better what I’m trying to say.






I think you get the picture. Make sure your plot makes sense. Your reader is smart and they will catch on. Push them too far and you may lose them.

Hope this gave you something to think about.

-Jan R



Plot Holes-Just For Fun :-)


Cb3l1HoVAAEOgtTSince my adventure began six years ago, I have read numerous stories from well known authors about their journey to becoming published. I put so much time and effort into my craft I couldn’t help but feel discouraged, and I wondered what I was doing wrong. It helped and encouraged me to know that I was not alone but in great company.

The one common theme in all of their stories was perseverance. The agent that worked with me on my book, always ended her critiques with don’t give up. Perseverance is the one characteristic that all successful writers have.

If you have a high quality, marketable piece of work, persevere and you will eventually find an agent and get published. Kathryn Stockett wrote The Help over a five year period of time, then had three and a half years worth of rejections. 60 in all. It was agent 61 who took her on. The book spent 100 weeks on the best seller list.

Other notable Authors who suffered rejection:

  • Richard Adam’s Watership Down 17 rejections
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune  20+ rejections
  • JK Rowlings’  Harry Potter 12+ rejections
  • Nicholas Sparks’  The Notebook 24 rejections.

I hope you are getting the picture.  Revise, edit, do what you have to do to make your story great and don’t give up.

Hope this offered a little encouragement.  I know how disheartening it can be to send your baby out and have it rejected. Don’t take it personal and don’t give up.

-Jan R


Read It All!

Genre.htmI have to admit I’m a hopeless romantic. I just love stories where boy meets girl, you throw in a little conflict (okay a lot), but everything works out in the end, and of course, they live happily ever after.

There’s nothing wrong with romance and wanting the happily ever after, but if you’re only reading one genre (romance, scifi, mystery, horror) you’re limiting yourself.  I never really thought that much about it, until I read a blog on why I should be reading all genres.

From my perspective, I write romance. I need to know what’s out there and what’s selling. How do other romance authors handle the physical and emotional sides of the relationships?

All of these reasons are valid, and I should be reading romance. But you know what? That novel has a lot more than romance in it. At least it had better have, if I want to keep my readers’ attention.

I may be great at developing a romantic relationship between my hero and heroine, but I had better be able to create the mystery and suspense necessary to keep my readers’ turning the page.

You may be writing a sci-fi novel, but odds are there’s a romance between your two main characters, and no one can explain why the lab assistant is lying on the floor dead, and there’s a  hole in the wall leading into the parking lot.

You can’t just read sci-fi and expect to be a well rounded writer. You might find yourself creating awesome aliens, but lacking when it comes to developing a relationship between the hero and heroine.

Reading different genres will make you a stronger writer. You’ll be introduced to new worlds and situations that would never arise in your typical horror, sci-fi, romance, or fantasy. Reading different genres will open your mind and encourage you to take risks that you may have never considered.

If that’s not enough, reading different genres will also allow you to read as a reader. Instead of focusing on the author’s style, you can simply enjoy the experience of reading 🙂

Hope this helped.

-Jan R

Read It All!

Help Your Reader Connect!

500-words_TestI just read through and edited my novel for God knows the number of times, I’ve lost count. That’s a problem in itself. I should be more efficient and effective with my time, but I’ll save that issue for another blog.

While my work is grammatically and structurally sound, the scenes flow, and there are no obvious plot holes, something’s missing, and I need to figure out what it is.

I followed all the rules, but it takes more than rules to pump up that novel and make it interesting enough for someone to want to purchase. You need to cover all of the basis, not just the technical ones.

I went back and did something I haven’t done in six months. I hate to confess, but I haven’t been reading. I love historical romances and have at least twenty sitting on a shelf that I haven’t read. Why? I don’t have the time.

I picked up one of them this past weekend and began reading. What was it about the novel that was drawing me in? What was it this novel had, that mine didn’t?

One thing that jumped out at me was character development. I have distinguishable and I think likable characters, but the depth that you get from introspection, from getting into the characters’ heads, is missing. I’m lacking that something that helps the reader connect with the characters and care about what happens to them.

I know my characters. I don’t need an explanation for why Josh did what he did. I don’t need to include what motivates him for myself. He is real to me and I care about him. I know everything about him. But my reader doesn’t.

My reader only knows what I tell them. You have to make those characters come alive and be as real to your reader as they are to you. Give them some details ( don’t over do it with mindless chatter-that creates another issue). Help them to understand your characters and why they act the way they do. Yes, you want the characters to be likable, but there’s so much more.

I’m getting off on a tangent. This blog was supposed to be about reading, and I’m morphing it into what I discovered when I picked up that novel. I guess that’s okay.

Hope you were able to take something from this blog.

-Jan R

Help Your Reader Connect!

Dangling Modifiers :-) – Revisited

4803157_700bHave you ever read a sentence and stopped? You go back and read it again and again. Sometimes you probably laugh out loud, because it’s funny and definitely not what the author had in mind.

You want see those sentences in published work very often. By the time your manuscript hits the publishers desk, the sentences have been cleaned up.

So if you haven’t figured it out, I’m talking about sentences with dangling modifiers. A modifier describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about a concept.

A dangling modifier is misplaced because it doesn’t have anything to modify. The word or words a dangling modifier should modify have been omitted or misplaced. I know you hear professionals say cut, cut, cut, but some words should not be cut.

“Always suspect an -ing word of dangling if it’s near the front of a sentence; consider it guilty until proven innocent.” –Patricia O’Connor.

Incorrect: Reading the regulations, the dog did not enter the park.

  • “Reading the regulations” is a dangling modifier.
  • The dog cannot read the regulations; the word(s) that “reading the regulations” modifies have been omitted.

Correct: After reading the regulations, I did not enter the park with my dog.

And then there’s…

The kind mother, handed out bologna sandwiches to all the children in Ziploc bags. (What were they doing in Ziploc bags?)

The robber was in his late thirties and about 6’2″, with long curly hair weighing about 160 lbs. (I think I would cut a little bit of that hair.)

The homeowner chased the intruder wearing nothing but his underwear. (Who was wearing nothing but underwear?)

Just for laughs…..

  1. Coming out of the market, the bananas fell on the pavement.
  2. With his tail held high, my father led his prize poodle around the arena.
  3. I saw an accident walking down the street.
  4. Freshly painted, Jim left the room to dry.
  5. He held the umbrella over Janet’s head that he got from Delta Airlines.
  6. Lost: Antique walking stick by an old man with a carved ivory head.
  7. The company’s refrigerator held microwavable lunches for 18 employees frozen in the top compartment.

I know most of you have dangling modifiers down, but they are so much fun.

-Jan R

Dangling Modifiers :-) – Revisited