Follow The Rules!

This past year I entered my first writing contest. I was excited. I love, love, love, my second completed manuscript. I didn’t win. I didn’t even make it to the second round. To say I was confused and disappointed would be an understatement. I don’t know. Maybe I set my expectations to high. Maybe it wasn’t written as well as I thought. MAYBE I DIDN’T FOLLOW THE RULES!

Okay, I followed most of the rules, but I missed one very important detail. My submission was entered under the wrong genre. To defend myself, I initially overlooked some things that could disqualify my entry and I was contacted by someone on the submission committee, to make changes. That particular committee member listed my entry as Romance-Suspense.

I didn’t read the definitions for the different genres. My book is a Romance, and it is suspenseful from beginning to end. Romance-Suspense worked for me, although my initial thought was Historical Romance.

I completed what was asked of me and resubmitted it under Romance-Suspense. After all, that was what was communicated to me, and the committee member should have known what they were talking about. I didn’t question it.

I’m preparing to submit my work in yet another contest. I am that confident in it. This time I read all the information carefully, including the genre list. I was stunned. Included in the description for Romance-Suspense is contemporary. Well, there’s nothing contemporary about my novel. It’s set in the 17th century.

I question why the committee didn’t just move it to the correct category once they realized it was misplaced, or why the committee member that contacted me had placed it in the Romance-Suspense category in the first place. I also question myself. Why didn’t I take the time to read every detail to ensure everything was correct. It was my responsibility, not that committee member’s!

Something to think about!

-Jan R

Follow The Rules!

Genre Word Count Guide

You ever wonder how many words you need to have for an acceptable novel? Well, it varies depending on the genre. I pulled the following list from Writer’s Digest and The Manuscript Appraisal Agency. There are slight differences in their numbers, but they are within the following range.

  •  Flash Fiction                                                   500
  •  Novella                                                           10,000 – 40,000
  • Adult Mainstream Novels                              80,000 – 100,000
  • Adult Mainstream Novel     70,000 -110,000
  •  Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy              90,000 – 120,000
  •  Romance                                                         50,000 – 100,000
  •  Mystery/ Crime/ Horror                                 70,000 – 90,000
  •  Historical Fiction                                             100,000 +
  •  Young Adult                                                     50,000 – 80,000
  •  Upper Middle Grade                                       40,000 – 55,000
  •  Middle Grade                                                   20,000 – 55,000
  •  Picture Books                                                   32 pages; 500 – 600 words

Hope this helped.

– Jan R

Genre Word Count Guide

195 Powerful Verbs That Will Spice Up Your Writing

 

I wish I could take credit for this blog, but it was written by Jerry Jenkins. He is probably my favorite blogger and one of my favorite authors. You can find him at jerryjenkins.com

He gave permission to share this blog with any writer who needed to read it. He wanted to get the word out. I thought about you, my followers.

Jerry Jenkins ….

Do you ever wonder why a grammatically correct sentence you’ve written just lies there like a dead fish? I sure have.

Your sentence might even be full of those adjectives and adverbs your teachers and loved ones so admired in your writing when you were a kid.

But still the sentence doesn’t work.

Something simple I learned from The Elements of Style years ago changed the way I write and added verve to my prose. The authors of that little bible of style said: “Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs.”

Even Mark Twain was quoted, regarding adjectives: “When in doubt, strike it out.”

That’s not to say there’s no place for adjectives. I used three in the title and first paragraph of this post alone.

The point is that good writing is more about well-chosen nouns and powerful verbs than it is about adjectives and adverbs, regardless of what you were told as a kid.

There’s no quicker win for you and your manuscript than ferreting out and eliminating flabby verbs and replacing them with vibrant ones.

How To Know Which Verbs Need Replacing

Your first hint is your own discomfort with a sentence. Odds are it features a snooze-inducing verb.

As you hone your ferocious self-editing skills, train yourself to exploit opportunities to replace a weak verb for a strong one.

At the end of this post I suggest a list of 195 powerful verbs you can experiment with to replace tired ones.

What constitutes a tired verb? Here’s what to look for:

3 Types of Verbs to Beware of in Your Prose

1. State-of-being verbs

These are passive as opposed to powerful:

  • Is
  • Am
  • Are
  • Was
  • Were
  • Be
  • Being
  • Been
  • Have
  • Has
  • Had
  • Do
  • Does
  • Did
  • Shall
  • Will
  • Should
  • Would
  • May
  • Might
  • Must
  • Can
  • Could

Am I saying these should never appear in your writing? Of course not. You’ll find them in this piece. But when a sentence lies limp, you can bet it contains at least one of these. Determining when a state-of-being verb is the culprit creates a problem—and finding a better, more powerful verb to replace it—is what makes us writers. [Note how I replaced the state-of-being verbs in this paragraph.]

Resist the urge to consult a thesaurus for the most exotic verb you can find. I consult such references only for the normal word that carries power but refuses to come to mind.

I would suggest even that you consult my list of powerful verbs only after you have exhausted all efforts to come up with one on your own. You want Make your prose any your own creation, not yours plus Roget or Webster or Jenkins. [See how easy they are to spot and fix?]

Examples

Impotent: The man was walking on the platform.

Powerful: The man strode along the platform.

Impotent: Jim is a lover of country living.

Powerful: Jim treasures country living.

Impotent: There are three things that make me feel the way I do…

Powerful: Three things convince me…

2. Verbs that rely on adverbs

Powerful verbs are strong enough to stand alone.

Examples

The fox ran quickly dashed through the forest.

She menacingly looked glared at her rival.

He secretly listened eavesdropped while they discussed their plans.

3. Verbs with -ing suffixes

Examples

Before: He was walking

After: He walked

Before: She was loving the idea of…

After: She loved the idea of…

Before: The family was starting to gather…

After: The family started to gather…

The List of 195 Powerful Verbs

  • Advance
  • Advise
  • Alter
  • Amend
  • Amplify
  • Attack
  • Balloon
  • Bash
  • Batter
  • Beam
  • Beef
  • Blab
  • Blast
  • Bolt
  • Boost
  • Brief
  • Burst
  • Bus
  • Bust
  • Capture
  • Catch
  • Charge
  • Chap
  • Chip
  • Clasp
  • Climb
  • Clutch
  • Collide
  • Command
  • Crackle
  • Crash
  • Crush
  • Dash
  • Demolish
  • Depart
  • Deposit
  • Detect
  • Deviate
  • Devour
  • Direct
  • Discern
  • Discover
  • Drain
  • Drip
  • Drop
  • Eavesdrop
  • Engulf
  • Enlarge
  • Ensnare
  • Erase
  • Escort
  • Expand
  • Explode
  • Explore
  • Expose
  • Extend
  • Extract
  • Eyeball
  • Fish
  • Frown
  • Gaze
  • Glare
  • Glisten
  • Glitter
  • Gobble
  • Govern
  • Grasp
  • Grip
  • Groan
  • Growl
  • Guide
  • Hail
  • Heighten
  • Hurry
  • Ignite
  • Illuminate
  • Inspect
  • Instruct
  • Intensify
  • Intertwine
  • Impart
  • Journey
  • Lash
  • Lead
  • Leap
  • Locate
  • Magnify
  • Moan
  • Modify
  • Multiply
  • Mushroom
  • Mystify
  • Notice
  • Notify
  • Obtain
  • Oppress
  • Order
  • Paint
  • Park
  • Peck
  • Peek
  • Peer
  • Perceive
  • Picture
  • Pilot
  • Pinpoint
  • Place
  • Plant
  • Plop
  • Poison
  • Pop
  • Position
  • Power
  • Prickle
  • Probe
  • Prune
  • Realize
  • Recite
  • Recoil
  • Refashion
  • Refine
  • Remove
  • Report
  • Retreat
  • Reveal
  • Revolutionize
  • Revolve
  • Rip
  • Rise
  • Ruin
  • Rush
  • Rust
  • Scan
  • Scrape
  • Scratch
  • Scrawl
  • Seize
  • Serve
  • Shatter
  • Shepherd
  • Shimmer
  • Shine
  • Shock
  • Shrivel
  • Sizzle
  • Skip
  • Slash
  • Slide
  • Slip
  • Slurp
  • Smash
  • Snag
  • Snarl
  • Snowball
  • Soar
  • Sparkle
  • Sport
  • Stare
  • Steal
  • Steer
  • Storm
  • Strain
  • Stretch
  • Strip
  • Stroll
  • Struggle
  • Stumble
  • Supercharge
  • Supersize
  • Surge
  • Survey
  • Swell
  • Swipe
  • Swoon
  • Tail
  • Tattle
  • Transfigure
  • Transform
  • Travel
  • Treat
  • Trim
  • Uncover
  • Unearth
  • Untangle
  • Unveil
  • Usher
  • Veil
  • Weave
  • Wind
  • Withdraw
  • Wreck
  • Wrench
  • Wrest
  • Wrestle
  • Wring

Of course there are many more. Jerry Jenkins just provided a list of examples to get you thinking 🙂

-Jan R

195 Powerful Verbs That Will Spice Up Your Writing

You Can’t Believe Everything You Read (Revisited)

While I’ve been around for a little while now, I certainly don’t consider myself an expert. I consult the experts, and research everything I write to ensure I don’t spread inaccurate information.

As a new writer, we don’t always know if what we are reading is fact, fiction, or opinion. We are hungry for information that is going to help us become better writers, and more importantly, that is going to help us become successful and published.

When I began this journey, I was literally starting from scratch. I assumed like many of you, that anybody could write a novel. I had a great idea and put pen to paper, or I guess I should say fingers to keys.

It wasn’t until I submitted it to agents, that I discovered there were rules on POV, writing dialogue, plotting, use of description, setting scenes… I needed information. I needed accurate, easy to understand information from someone who knew what they were talking about.

I opened my computer and began typing. If it’s on the internet, it has to be true, right? That’s what most of us think, at least that’s what I thought. If I was having problems with dialogue, one of my weaknesses, I would type in dialogue and go for it. There were so many articles and blog posts to read. While most offered invaluable information, I would occasionally run into one that lead me astray or left me more confused than I was before I started my research.

I feel like I’m rambling today, but my aim for this particular blog is to caution new writers. Just because something is written on-line, doesn’t mean it’s correct. Choose your sources wisely. Do your research. There is a lot of useful information out there, but you will occasionally run into something that is inaccurate, or so ambiguous you are left more confused than you were when you started your research.

My husband is always saying technology is wonderful. You have the world at your fingertips, but you can’t check your brain in at the door.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

You Can’t Believe Everything You Read (Revisited)