Monday, 20 February 2012

How to Resize Pictures for Self Publishing Books

Resizing pictures for self published illustrated books whether for epub or Createspce is a crucial yet easy to learn skill. Large images may cause the ebook to infringe the MB allowance for a Kindle platform. Images too small will result in a poor quality print book. What is the simplest way to resize images?

What does Resizing Images Mean?

An image that appears large on the screen does not mean it is a large image. Viewing a photograph in zoom is like looking close up at a photograph, yet the size of the photograph stays the same. In the same way, an image that appears small on the screen might have a large memory. This would be like viewing a large painting far away. The only way to determine the size of an image is to view it in a picture program and click on the image size.

How to Resize Pictures for Epub

A large image will take up more memory than a small image. Hover the mouse over a JPEG image in Pictures and the dimensions will be given. Digitally, an image is measured in pixels (px), the smallest point in a raster image. This is rather like the print equivalent of a single dot that makes up photograph. In printing terms, this is known as DPI (dots per square inch). Understanding the difference between pixels and DPI is crucial when it comes to resizing pictures.

Essential Photo Editing Software for Epublishing

An image of around 1500px x 2000px is pretty average for a JPEG image taken with a digital camera on a standard resolution setting (graininess). Anything around 2000px x 3000Ppx is large and would indicate the photo was taken with a higher resolution. Scan an image at a high resolution and the resultant JPEG will also be large. An image of around 1000px or less is small and might indicate the image was sourced from the Net or taken at a low resolution.

How to Resize Pictures for Epub

A picture ebook will need photographic software that enables image reduction – to make them smaller and therefore take less memory within the book file. An ebook with lots of images that is excess of 4 or 5MB cannot be uploaded onto a digital platform because of its size, so the images (as they take up more memory than text) will need to be made smaller. An ebook that lies above 2 or 3MB will attach a transmission fee to the ereader, so the epublisher will add this fee to the book price. This is not good news for the writer who wants to keep the cost of the ebook down.

Free Picture Resizing Software for Ebooks

Most photo editors have an image resizer built in, such a Paintshop Pro or Picassa. You can resize images in Paint, a free image software that comes as standard with Microsoft. But I use Irfanview, also a free picture software because I have total control over the resize program. Open the program. Browse to the image and open. Click on the ‘image’ button and in the submenu, click ‘resize/resample.’ You can either reduce the image size by ratio (by percent) or by inputting new dimensions in pixels. Remember to ‘save as’ to retain the original file.

When Not to Resize Images

Making an image smaller will inevitably downgrade its quality, but this will seldom be perceived if the image is not less than around 500px on one side when viewed online. However, the original image must be of good quality. Only by reproducing such an image in print will pixilation be perceived. An image that appears blurred or fuzzy in the first place should not be used in an ebook.

How to Resize a Picture to Make it Larger

Resizing images for Createspace, Lulu or similar print on demand publishers (or POD) is another matter. The source image must be at least 1800px on any one side. It would not do to make bigger a small image (for instance by making a 1000px x1200px image 3000px x 2000px) for this would simply mean enlarging its poor quality, including any visible pixilation. When it comes to print books, the quality of the images is paramount. They should be large in the first place, be clear and sharp. Taking great photos for self publishing print books is covered in another article.

How to Increase DPI for Print Images

So long as the image is good quality, you can increase the DPI for print books. DPI stands for dots per square inch, and Createspace demands at least 300DPI for print images; anything less could look pixilated in print. Again, I use Irfanview to increase the DPI of my pictures. Browse to the image concerned and open. Click on ‘images’ and then on ‘resize/resample' within the submenu. Set the DPI to 300.

Free Photo Software for Resizing

The apparent size of an image viewed onscreen says nothing about its actual size, as programs enable you to zoom in or out, including ereaders. The only way to tell the true size of an image is to view it in a picture program and to establish its dimensions in pixels. Smaller images would be more suited to ebooks; larger pictures for the print book market.

Image resizing software is crucial for self publishing illustrated books, whether for epub or for the print market. The former will entail reducing your images for the book file; the latter requires large, good quality images first off, which may need DPI enhancement for print. Never increase the size of a small image in the hope it will improve its quality. It will simply make it bigger, warts and all. The best solution is to ensure all images are good quality before resizing.

How to Publish Illustrated Books

How to format books for POD error free
How to upload a picture book with free zip software
My images on epub look small on ereaders
How to publish black and white illustrated books
How to create excellent images for self published books
Design your own book cover

Monday, 13 February 2012

How to Format a Book for POD without Errors

You have perfectly-worded your book, and if pictures are included, they are clear and pristine. However, after uploading your book file onto a POD platform such as Createspace, the system throws back error messages that leave you stumped. Here is a list of the most common self publishing peeves and how to cure them.

Formatting Peeves on Createspace

In order to self publish a book for print on demand you have to ensure the book file is free of printing or formatting issues. The following are the most common problems associated with self publishing a book and how to deal with them.

1 Your Fonts have Not Been Embedded Properly

You might have used exotic fonts and complex page formatting that may not convert as it should onto the POD platform, causing slight shifts between the appearance of your book on your PDF file and the print version. To prevent this, you must embed the fonts into your book file prior to saving it as a PDF. Createspace will do this for you, but I would prefer to do it prior to upload. Follow these steps on how to embed fonts in your book file.

1. Click on the office logo on the top left of your Microsoft screen.
2. Select ‘word options.’ This can be found at the bottom of the popup window.
3. Select ‘save’, which will bring up a new screen.
4. Click the box that displays ‘embed fonts in this file.’ Then save.

Once you have embedded the fonts into your book file, you must save it as a PDF prior to upload.

2 The Pictures in Your Book File are Low in DPI which May Look Pixilated in Print

The graininess of an image is denoted by how many dots there are per square inch (or DPI). CreateSpace and Lulu like your images to be at least 300DPI. Anything less will throw up this error message. To overcome this problem, you will need to save your pictures at a higher DPI. But first, make sure you have not inadvertently selected the wrong button when saving your book file as a PDF. You will have 2 options: ‘save for minimum size for online publishing,’ or ‘standard publishing (for printing)’. By selecting the ‘online’ option, you are reducing the book file size including the images, degrading the quality of the images.

Also, when saving your book file, make sure not to ‘compress’ the images as this will reduce the size of your images as well as the quality. If you do so inadvertently, undo the action or reinsert the image(s) from scratch.

How to Increase DPI of Pictures

Make sure the images you include in your book file are good quality first-off, which means high resolution and sharp focusing. You can find good quality images on the Net, such as Shutterstock, but I would prefer to produce my own images. If the DPI has been reduced due to cropping, you can increase the DPI again by the means of any standard image software such as PaintShop. I use Irfanview, a free image software download. Follow these steps to increase DPI of pictures.

1. With the image software opened, browse to the image that needs DPI resizing.
2. Click on ‘image’ or ‘image options.’
3. On the submenu, click on ‘resize’.
4. A separate resize/resample box will pop up.
5. Under ‘DPI’ change to 300.
6. Save the image.

If scanning the mage, set the DPI to 300.

3 Elements Extend into the Trim Area of your Book File

If your book file exhibits crucial elements that extend into the 0.125in of your outer margins, the error message will pop up that these elements may be trimmed off during the production of your book. To counter this, make sure each page is free of text and/or image within this area. This will mean shifting a few images away from the edges of your page or widening your margins a little.

If however, the effect is intentional, you will need to select ‘full bleed’ for the trim of your book. You will also have to adjust your page size to accommodate for the full bleed, which will mean adding 0.125” onto the top and bottom of your page size and 0.125in to the outer edge. So if your book is to be 8x10in, with full bleed, it will be 8.125inx10.25in. You will not need to add anything to the gutter edge of your page (the point at which your pages join at the spine) as this will not be trimmed. However, if your book is of a particular word-count, you will need to make the gutter margin a little wider.

More about calculating the margins of your book file for full bleed can be found on a separate article (a link can also be found at the foot of this page).

4 Error Messages on the Cover Design of your Book

Beware that the above also applies to your book cover design. Make sure the image featured is at least 300DPI and that there is a sufficient trim area between the live elements of your cover design (which might be text or image) and the outer edges of your book cover. Allow only inconsequential background to be on display within the outer 0.125” trim area. Uploading your cover design on CreateSpace will soon uncover issues.

5 Images Contains Transparency which will be Flattened Causing a Colour Shift

Some images in your book may contain transparent colours which, during processing, may not exhibit the subtle hues featured. Without addressing this issue, the print copy of your book will feature unbalanced hues, some garish, others subtle. In my case, reds and certain blues were oversaturated. The only way I could counter this problem was to tone down the brightness of the colours a little in Pictures by toggling the ‘saturation’ settings a little to the left. Don’t go too far or the picture will appear too monochromatic. Before tampering with the colour saturation, copy the image in a separate file and reserve it only for POD images.

Why Your Book File will be Rejected on a POD Platform

Other issues that may hamper the publishing process of your book are as follows:
  • The author name and book title inputted during the book setup stage do not match that which is entered for the book cover.
  • Book is less than 24 pages long.
  • The gutter setting is insufficiently wide for a book exceeding a certain page length. The thicker the book, the wider the gutter margin needs to be.
  • More than two blank pages in a row. Every page should contain live elements.
  • If you select ‘provide your own ISBN’, it must accurately match the name and book title registered through that ISBN agency. Print on demand companies will verify for accuracy.
  • Page headers that appears inconsistent in style throughout the book. Make sure the headers are consistent throughout.
Guide to Publishing Your Book on PDF

In order to self publish your book on POD, observe common issues that may hamper self publishing. A book that has not been saved as a single PDF file cannot be uploaded (although Createspace will convert it for you). Make sure fonts are embedded and that all images are at least 300DPI in size. Look out for live elements that encroach over the trim areas of your interior file (over 0.125”). And also ensure the details given during the setup stage of your book accurately reflect that which is on display on the book cover.

Self Publishing your Book on Print on Demand Platform

Designing your own book cover
Bleed or no bleed for POD?
Creating perfect images for print books
Formatting text with images for POD
Developing writing style for novels

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Help! How do I Write my First Screenplay?

You might have a great idea for a screenplay to the point you can visualize the story unreeling in your head. But how do you put the story into a screenplay format? Here are the beginners’ tips to writing your first screenplay.

How to Write a Script, the Basics

Conceiving a great idea for a screenplay is only the beginning of the creative journey. The writer will need to know how to put the ideas down, what to put in, what to leave out, how to format the dialogue, how to express scene transitions and action descriptions. And all with the three-act structure supporting the story. Obviously, a blank Word document is not the way to go. The screenplay should be properly formatted. You can get free screenwriting software for a variety of formats, including TV dramas, feature length films (for US and UK formats) and even soaps from BBC Writersroom. You have a choice of two screenwriting programmes, which are Scriptsmart, or the more advanced Scriptsmart Gold.

Free Screenwriting Software for the Beginner

Follow the onscreen instructions to upload BBC’s Scriptsmart and get familiar with the programme, which is pretty easy to follow. You will find that by opening a document, Scriptsmart will format the page with certain paragraph settings and spaces that are used for scene headings, paragraphs and dialogue within the screenplay. Such prescriptive page settings ensure that each page will equal a certain amount of time: a page of film script equals a minute in film time. The ideal screenplay should be therefore be between 80 and 120 pages long. The first page will show the title of the screenplay in caps, the writer’s contact details (email, etc) will be exhibited on the lower left corner.

Screenwriting Basics in Formatting

The screenplay is really a blend of two elements: speech and action scenes. So when conceiving a screenplay, I will usually put these down in a notebook. You may research into the characters’ backgrounds right down to their childhoods and families as well as what they are thinking as the scenes unravel. But unlike novels, none of this back-story should be present in the actual screenplay. The skill of making apparent what the characters are feeling through what is on screen alone, might take some getting used to. When it comes to screenwriting, show and don’t tell really comes into its own. So only what is seen and heard on the screen should be on the screenplay. Nothing else.

How do I Open the Screenplay?

Every screenplay should begin with a FADE IN which is the opening of the first scene. Each scene should open with a ‘slugine’ which is expressed in caps. A slugline is in three parts: whether the scene is inside or outdoors (exterior or interior), which is expressed as EXT. or INT. This is followed by the location of the scene, which might be in a car or office. The third part is time of day, usually DAY or NIGHT, although EVENING or AFTERNOON can be used. If a scene follows in a continuous fashion then CONT. can be used. An example of a slugline, therefore might be: INT. GERALD’S OFFICE – DAY

Rather than use the same slugline repeatedly if two scenes occur in the same place, you can put THE SAME – LATER (or CONTINUOUS) if only the timeframe shifts.

Every slugline should be followed with an action description which informs on what the characters (if any) are doing and their locations, which might be, ‘Anne is standing by the window reading a letter. Gerald enters. He appears worried.’ And this illustrates the next crucial point. Every action description should be expressed in the present tense. Action descriptions should ideally be pithy and to the point. Don’t include lengthy descriptive passages. Break each action sequence into ‘beats’ of no more than 4 lines long. Be as brief and to the point as possible with action descriptions.

Dialogue Formatting for Film

Each morsel of dialogue should be headed with a character name, again in caps. The dialogue itself has a shorter line length than the action description and centred beneath the character name. A choice of speech qualifiers (in brackets beneath the character name) can be used to describe how the dialogue is to be delivered, which might be (V.O.) voiceover, (Into phone) speaking into the phone or (O.S.) off screen (if the character speaking is not visible on camera). Others can be used, such as (sardonically) or (sharply). Use these qualifiers sparingly. Let what is said reflect how it should be delivered.

How to Use Montages and Series of Shots

Rather than employ a series of sluglines to express a succession of short scenes, you can use a ‘series of shots’. This is headed with SERIES OF SHOTS, slugline-like, and beneath a series of brief descriptions lettered A), B) and C) etc will be seen. An example of a series of shots might look like this:

SERIES OF SHOTS

A) Suzie walks up a street
B) Suzie enters an office block
C) Inside the office, Suzie strides up the stairwell.
D) Suzie walks through a door. Gerald greets her and they shake hands.

A Montage is formatted identically to a series of shots, but is headed MONTAGE instead. A montage is really a means of conveying a mood or atmosphere via a series of scenes, such as a busy day at work or moments of grief after a child loses her mother.

What does a Screenplay Look Like?

Really, a screenplay will contain a smattering of words with lots of white space, headed with a series of sluglines in caps, and character cues in caps. Dialogue and descriptions will be expressed in upper/lower case, where the dialogue will exhibit shorter line lengths. A good idea is to take a look at other screenplays, which can be viewed online for free.

How do I Make the Film Script Work?

The final act of the screenplay will FADE OUT. But really, this is the beginning, as every screenplay will need drafting and redrafting. The writer should get familiar with the elements of a screenplay such as the three act structure, the story hook and the point of no return. Such story elements will help the screenwriter plot pivotal points within the screenplay story for optimum effect. Links to articles describing these elements can be found below. Finally, depending on how you are submitting your screenplay, you can either save it as a PDF for online submissions, or carefully brad the 100 or so pages together within a flexible wallet for the post. Make sure the finished screenplay is pristine and perfect.

Advice for Beginning a Screenplay

But of course, drafting and redrafting the screenplay will often be necessary. The initial stage is a fairly organic process, where notebooks and pencils will be needed. Once putting words into the screenplay document, you can really begin to see how the storyline might unfold through action scenes and dialogue. But don’t submit until you have weeded out: typos, stereotypes, scenes that serve no purpose, areas without conflict, clichéd paragraphs, wordy dialogue and literary prose.

One of the best ways of moving the script forward is to put it into a bottom drawer for a few weeks and reading it afresh. Alternatively, get a trusted friend to give impartial feedback. More about improving the screenplay can be found on the links below.

How to Write Screenplays, the Basics

Elements of a screenplay
Guide to drafting your screenplay
Character development for films
What to send in a screenwriting submission package
Three act structure of a screenplay
Great names for your character
Getting paid screenwriting jobs

Why Can’t I Win any Short Story Competitions?

The writer can do a lot to ensure the story entry has a fighting chance of getting shortlisted in a short story competition. The following tips on creative writing and submission guidelines may help.

Short Story Advice for Writers

Your short story might comprise a taut story crafted with perfect prose and the most original and compelling plot, but if the following guidelines are not adhered to, the story might just as well be crafted by chimp and scribbled on toilet paper.
  • Word count too high. Story competitions can be quite strict on this matter, and a simple word count will expose story entries that go over. A short story competition that demands no more than 2000 words means that words in excess of this may take your entry out of the running.
  • The wrong genre. If the competition is looking for captivating children’s stories, don’t submit an erotic yarn. Similarly, if the competition is searching for a crime story, don’t submit a sci-fi story.
  • Submission too late. Make sure the story arrives before the closing date. Late entries will not be considered.
  • No contact details enclosed. Don’t forget to include your name and contact details when submitting your short story.
  • No fees enclosed. Make sure a cheque is enclosed to the correct amount and to the correct payee.
Making a Short Story Great

OK, with the entry correctly submitted, you stand a better chance of competing with thousands of other entrants for that coveted first prize. But you could do more to enhance the reading experience of the judges to ensure there are no spelling errors or grammatical blunders. If submitting a postal entry, use crisp white paper and don’t try to cram it into a small envelope or the creases may spoil the effect.

Writing Contests against Other Writers

Writing a short story is not as easy as it sounds. Unlike a novella or novel, every word becomes even more crucial. A beginning, middle and end are crammed into a mere few thousand words, which mean no dallying over the opening and no padding out at the middle. Get straight to the story. Try cutting the first hundred or so words from the first draft to throw the reader more abruptly into the action.

Narrative Style for Short Stories

Get the red pen out whilst drafting a short story. Cut the following words from the prose: flabby adjectives that qualify a weak or inaccurate noun. Wispy clouds could be cirrus; a large city could be a metropolis.

Cut flabby adverbs that qualify weak verbs and make them accurate. Run quickly could be raced or cantered. Think carefully could be cogitate or peruse. Stare fiercely, could be glower.

You could polish your writing style further by looking for passive sentences. Overuse of the verbs, was, were, are and is, could be indicative of passive writing. Change ‘the trees were swaying’ to ‘the trees swayed.’ Change ‘the man was walking down the street,’ to ‘the man walked down the street.’ Give nouns something to do as opposed to just sitting there letting things happen to them: the moon smoldered; the water simmered; the geyser belched. These are known as active sentences and works to make your writing snappier and more immediate.

Active Writing for Short Stories

Propel the reader into the protagonist’s world by using the five senses to describe sensations as opposed to using abstract concepts. Rather than say ‘she felt frightened,’ describe the sensation of fear, which can be subjective. Did the character’s hands quake; did her breathing take a jolt? Make sensations tangible regarding smells, tastes, sounds and sensations.

Cutting redundant adjectives and lazy adverbs as well as changing passive verbs to active verbs will cut your word count significantly leaving more room for the story. This in turn will allow more room for dynamic descriptions.

Creative Writing Tips for Storytelling

Look for clichés and sentences that add nothing to the story. Such sentences may lurk in the shadows, cowering against the editing pen. Weed them out: sentences that repeat something already mentioned earlier; sentences that harbour repeating words or simply slow the pace unnecessarily. Watch out for overly long paragraphs and/or sentences. Slice in two, sentences that contain more than 40 words or so. Chop paragraphs that are more than 12 lines long.

Short Story Competition Advice

But what of the content of the story? It is all very well having a perfectly-crafted prose, but this will count for little if the story itself is not original or compelling. Think about the following writing tips:
  • Take a familiar story and set it against a different background. For example, a detective story could be set in a monastery; a tale about a beauty contest could be set at a prison.
  • Make the protagonist different to the expected. Make a nightclub bouncer female; or a sensational guitar player three-fingered.
  • Look for every opportunity to pull a twist on the reader. A story told in the first person may relate on a hero’s day keeping watch against snipers in the Middle East. Only at the end do we learn the hero is a twelve-year-old boy.
  • Write about something you know about and project it onto the character or the story to add authenticity. A writer’s experience at a children’s home could be projected upon a story about a girl who has been evacuated during the war. The feeling of displacement and possible alienation could be made more convincing by the writer’s empathy.
Remember the short story should have a beginning, middle and end. The story should be peppered with conflict. The protagonist should have a goal and something should stand in the way (which might be person, animal, natural or inner belief). Look for ways of (convincingly) upping the stakes and creating a seemingly impossible situation.

Having said that, some short stories describe a slice of life or the world according to whomever. This can be very effective for suspending the reader. An original slant can make your story stand out.

Creative Tips for Short Story Writers

Don’t put your short story out of the running because of a technical aberration. Keep the word count within guidelines, pay the correct fee and make sure the entry has arrived prior to the closing date. Perfect your narrative style to tighten the writing, leaving more room for the action. And finally, look for original ideas. Relate the story to something you know about to give it authenticity. And lastly look for opportunities to increase the ante. Make the reader want to read on and make it original.

Creative Writing Tips for Narrative Style

The perils of passive writing
Make the most of adjectives
How to use adverbs
My characters behave like puppets

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Scenes in My Novel are Monotonous

Every novel consists of a series of scenes, one linking to the other in an arc that becomes the story. Dull and clichéd scenes can make even the most interesting plot, a flat read. What are the beginner’s mistakes to avoid when writing scenes for fiction?

How Not to Write Scenes for Fiction

A novel can be compared to a painting, in that it requires contrast in elements (or colours) throughout the creation. Such elements in fiction can be described as action scenes, dialogue, narrative, description, flashbacks, segues, and climaxes. A well-written story ideally should have a smattering of each element in varying proportions throughout the novel to keep the reader engaged. Imagine a novel that contains nothing but blocks of solid descriptive text, page after page and you might get what I mean. So each scene might become more interesting with a constant flux of each element.

How to Create Conflict in Novels

A scene is a single occurrence or happening where conflict (and this is crucial) is present in some way. Conflict need not necessarily mean a brawl or a shouting match, but a discrepancy in character motives, goals or outward appearances. Conflict can be quiet and wordless, or it can indeed be noisy. But every scene must have conflict at its core.

Scene Writing for Novels

Each scene must be crucial to the story. The scene might be conveyed via dialogue or physical action. Juxtaposing contrasting scenes is the key to keeping the reader alert. If one scene is recounted as description, consider opening the next one with dialogue. As the story arc deepens, I tend to laden on the action and dialogue and go sparing on description and back-story.

Make sure each scene is vital to the plot. Look out for scenes that add nothing to the story or that repeats the point of an earlier scene. If we have found out that the librarian has been stealing books earlier in the novel, don’t include a scene later that makes that same revelation.

Don’t include scenes where all characters are in agreement to one another. By all means, make it appear that way, but make it plain that conflict is present in some way.

Ensure dialogue is not chit-chatty or serves the purpose of informing the reader of something in an obvious way. Emphasise character contrasts, in class, background or belief systems. Sometimes, cutting dialogue can create more tension in that it brings out subtext. Subtext is what is unsaid via body language or implication as opposed to what is on the surface. Subtext is great for creating tension within the novel.

Scenes to Cut from the Novel

Don’t be merciful in scene cutting. Don’t get too attached to a favourite scene if it actually adds nothing to the story. Cut scenes if:
  • Its purpose has already been covered earlier in the book.
  • All the characters are in accordance with one another.
  • The scene is contrived or feels stilted.
  • Nothing is actually happening.
  • The scene does not present further questions or deepen the mystery for the reader.
  • It merely serves as ‘purple prose,’ wordy passages that would look more at home in a poetry book.
  • The scene does not up the ante in that achieving a hero’s goal has not been made more difficult, or the mystery seems more unsolvable.
  • The scene contains inane chit-chat.
  • Insufficient tension or at least conflict within.
  • Look out for issues regarding length of scenes. If there is a string of short scenes one following the other, consider inserting a longer scene within. Vary the length of scenes within the novel.
Creative Writing Tips for Drama

Some scenes are necessary to add logic to the passing of time or space to make the story flow. This is the purpose of segues. Without them, the scenes will jar against each other. An example of a Segue is: ‘We arrived at the shopping mall a little past two. I had missed lunch and I was feeling lightheaded.’

Dramatic Fiction Writing for Pace

Remember that a scene need not be as long as the actual event. A climactic scene that describes an event lasting a mere few minutes can be pages long, such as a plummet down a mountain or a collision. The link will take you to a scene that describes a horrific car crash in my novel, Nora. Here, I have used the senses to bring the reader into the situation.

An irrelevant scene that describes a few days passing may consist of a few sentences. Draw out the climaxes, abridge less crucial scenes. Such abridgements give the reader a psychological breather before the next climax. This is known as ‘pace.’

Creating Drama for Novels

Look for opportunities to add contrast and conflict to your scenes. If a scene appears flat, try cutting dialogue to bring out subtext via body language. Could a scene be made more dramatic by combining it with another scene? Could the drama be heightened with a bigger build up? Timing is part of creating drama; delivering the ‘punch line’ too early may kill the effect. Look for ways of bringing more contrast between characters, in motives or beliefs. If they are too much in accordance, widen this difference.

Secrets to Creating Drama in Literature

Scenes that seems to move along in a monotonous fashion probably contains too much of one element and not enough of the others. Take a bigger view to see if there is too much dialogue or descriptive passages in one area. Try contrasting one element against another. Look for idle scenes that add nothing to the story and mercilessly cut them. Look for opportunities to heighten tension by bringing out the subtext via inference. Make character motives more disparate and really milk out those climactic scenes after a suitable buildup. Conflict should be present in some form within every scene within the novel.

Creative Writing Tips for Novels

Developing characters in your novel
Character questionnaire
Great themes for your novel
The perils of passive writing
My novel has died a death
Description of a car crash

My Screenplay Log Line is Dull and Clichéd

The one sentence summary of your film script is the most crucial line of your screenplay submission package. If it fails to convey the essence of the story in an accurate yet compelling way, the rest of your film pitch is likely to remain unread. What are the causes of a script summary that fails to grab the attention?

Loglines that Fail to Compel

It is hard to sum up a three-act story weaved by several characters that have different agendas in a one-sentence screenplay summary. In an attempt to put the whole essence of the film in twenty-five words the writer may try to cram too many words into the logline, resulting in a stilted sentence. The other downfall is trying to entice by being vague and open-ended, leaving too much to the imagination.

What is a Movie Tagline?

It must be made clear here, that a story logline is not the same as a tagline. A logline informs on what a film is about; a tagline is promotional text used on movie posters aimed at a certain audience, and may not inform on what the film is about. Examples of Taglines are: Armageddon (1998) ‘Earth, it was fun while it lasted,’ and Chicken Run (2000) ‘Escape or die frying.’

The tagline piques the interest of a targeted audience. A film logline (or one-liner) informs on what the film is about and helps a potential film agent or producer make an informed decision on whether to represent the writer or read the screenplay or not.


How Not to Write a Film Logline

So, when conceiving a great film logline, avoid the following:

Words and phrases that imply what the reader should be feeling when reading the logline. For instance, a terrifying secret, a tense spy thriller, a horrifying ghost story, the weirdest sci-fi, or the most shocking slasher story you’ve ever read. Stick instead to the facts of what the story is about. Let the reader decide what to feel about the logline.

Avoid clichéd word pairings and phases, such as, ‘nail biting’, or ‘boy meets girl.’ Go instead for original word pairings.

Don’t make comparisons with other blockbusters or bestsellers whilst hawking your script. For instance, Harry Potter meets Terminator, or a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.

Try not to cram in too much in your logline creating a stilted compilation of words that permits little room for breath, such as: ‘an undercover cop infiltrates a drugs cartel only to discover his daughter is seeing the leader’s father-in-law who is going through an acrimonious divorce with the cop’s supervisor.’ In such cases, less is more.

Writing a Snappy Log Line for a Movie Pitch

Imagine someone asking ‘what’s the film about?’ The response should be a pithy one-liner that provides just that in no more than 25 words. Conceiving such logline is not as easy as it sounds. Grab a thesaurus and bear in mind the essential film elements: the genre, the hero’s aim, the story’s moral and the climax of the story.

Words to Avoid in the Story Logline

Some words just won’t do in this most crucial sentence of your film package. This includes lazy adverbs and redundant adjectives. Don’t go for the first words you can think of. Dig out the thesaurus and find words that will do the work of two or even three. Don’t sacrifice the snappiness of the logline for the sake of telling all; leave a little to the imagination. A logline for a screenplay I wrote entitled The Shuttered Room (adapted from my novel) telling the story of a kidnapped woman, read, ‘a woman held hostage plays psychological games with her abductors in order to escape.’

Look for powerful words that evoke the senses. Prefer active verbs to passive sentences. This means avoiding ‘was’ and ‘were’ in your logline or words with clunky suffixes such as ‘mindlessness.’ Hone in on accurate, punchy nouns and verbs. ‘Pursuit’ might be better than ‘search’; ‘hostage’ might be better than ‘prisoner.’

A Memorable Screenplay Summary

A good exercise might be to write the first thing that enters the head for the logline and then pare back. Cut description words, leaving verbs and nouns. Check each word out in the thesaurus to find better alternatives. Can an abstract noun be replaced with a more tangible word?

Change the sentence construction if need be. Swap sentence clauses and see if this tightens up the logline or makes it flow.

Writing a One Liner for a Script

Pitching a screenplay in one sentence should not be done at haste, as the one-liner could make the difference between an agent reading the screenplay and passing on. A thesaurus is crucial for finding the perfect words for a punchy one-liner. This means paring the sentence down to it barest elements of verbs and nouns, trying a reshuffle and then introducing a few crucial descriptive words to bring colour to the logline. If the logline refuses to work put it away and look at the logline another day with fresh eyes.

Tips and Tricks on Screenplay Writing

The first ten pages of your screenplay
Is Amazon Studios for me?
The screenplay theme
How to create realistic characters for your screenplay
How to publish your screenplay online
Guide to editing your screenplay

Thursday, 9 February 2012

How to Create Perfect Images for Books on POD

Self publishing a book for the print on demand market (POD) means ensuring the images within are perfect in every way. But for various reasons, the picture quality might turn out poor – they appear pixilated, bleached out or exhibit grubby marks. What are the best ways of improving image quality for print books without having to fork out money for imaging software?

Picture Program to Increase DPI of Images

One of the commonest flags a self publishing platform, such as Createspace gives is that the images within a book have low DPI. DPI stands for dots per square inch, and anything less than 300DPI will appear pixilated in print. To guard against this, always set the scanner to 300DPI when scanning the image. Otherwise, set the camera to the highest resolution possible.

When to Retake Photographs

The following tips will enhance your images, but there are occasions when a poor image is not worth bothering with, for instance graininess or pixilation that is beyond help, regardless of what you do with the DPI or sharpening tools. A cropped image will not contain sufficient detail. In the same way, an image that is out of focus or bleached out cannot be fixed. In such cases, consider doing a reshoot. Read my article on taking perfect photographs for your print book. But if you decide to go ahead, save a copy of the original image in case things go wrong whilst adjusting the image.

Free Image Resizer

If during the trimming stage, the DPI of the image is decreased, you can increase the DPI again with free image software. I use IrfanView to resize my images. It is a useful picture program that does lots of other things. (If you already have PaintShop Pro, you can increase the image DPI in the same way). Simply browse to the image you need to resize. Click on ‘image’ and then ‘resize/resample’. In the window that shows the DPI range of the image, set the DPI to 300. Save the image.

Clean up Images of Unwanted Marks

Erase unwanted marks and scratches from scanned drawings by using Paint, a free Microsoft image software. Open the application and then open the image. If the marks are near detail, pan into the image by clicking on ‘view’ then ‘zoom’ or by using the magnifying tool. You can use the ‘eraser’ or ‘airbrush’ to rid the marks. If the area to be cleaned is of a particular colour, you can copy and paste a neighbouring area of the same colour and drag it over the blemish.

Sharpen up Images Easily

Even the best photographs can look a little fuzzy when panning in. Sharpen them by opening the image in IrfanView (or PaintShop Pro if you already have it) and clicking on ‘image’ and the ‘sharpen’. I would sharpen only by one increment, as going overboard will make your images appear metallic.

Photo Editing for Colour Adjustment

A photograph with oversaturation can look cheap and garish. Tone the colours down by opening the image in Pictures and clicking ‘fix,’ which will open image adjustment options. Click on ‘adjust colour’ and then drag the toggle to the left. Going all the way will bring the image to monochrome, ideal for certain effects. To bring a sepia tint to your image, save the black and white version as a separate file, open it in Pictures again and then drag the colour temperature to the right to add warmth. You can also add warmth or coolness to colours by twiddling with the colour temperatures.

Photo Editor for Contrast improvement

In the same window, you can deepen contrast between light and shade in the image by clicking on ‘adjust exposure’ in Pictures. Drag the contrast toggle to the right to increase contrast, to the left to bring out detail in middle tones.

Imaging Software for Photographs Out of True

A photograph that features perpendicular angles such as a horizon or buildings taken askew can look unsightly. You can adjust the rotation value of the image by clicking on the ‘custom fine rotation’ under ‘images’ on Irfanview. Fine tune the orientation of the image by inputting a particular angle value in degrees. Some fiddling is required to get it right. Once saved, go back into Pictures and trim off any white background that will result from the fine rotating.

Free Image Software Downloads

You don’t need costly imaging software to improve the quality of images of your published book. I get by with Paint, Pictures and Irfanview. I also find Picassa and PaintShop Pro useful for special effects and for putting text on top of pictures. Remember to save a copy of the original image in case things go wrong and you can start again.

If publishing a kindle book on Kindle you will also need a good file compression software such as Winzip. I use Jzip which is free. Read my article on how to compress image files for uploading onto publishing platforms.

Articles on Publishing Picture Books on POD

How to publish children’s picture books on POD
Formatting images with text on POD
Bleed or no bleed for print books?
Increase How to increase DPI of your images
Troubleshooting poor images for print books
My images look too small on ereaders
My site on novel writing

How to Self Publish Books with Black and White Images for POD

Self publishing a book with drawings such as humorous books, cartoon strips or step by step guides must exhibit drawings of excellent quality and with properly formatting with text for a professional look. But how does the writer/illustrator blend text with images for the print book?

Self Publish Comics and Other Illustrated Books

Crisp, clean drawings are an essential accompaniment to pithy captions or step by step text. The quality of the drawings must reflect the tone of the book and rendered with artist quality materials which might be watercolour paper, rapidographs, fine pencils or ink. The focus of this article is formatting image and text into a print book by the use of free image software and knowledge of Word. The quality of the book could look amateurish if the images are fuzzy, pixillated or dirty marks apparent. Similarly, great images with poor formatting will not look good.

At this point, the drawings have been completed; the text is perfectly-worded and it is time to put them together into a book for POD.

Formatting Illustrations for Print

POD (or print on demand) is the ideal way to get your book into the print market without overheads. Createspace and Lulu are two of the most prominent POD publishers that provide all the resources needed to get your book into print. You need only pay for a proof copy of your book prior to releasing it for sale.

POD companies have a range of trim sizes you can choose from for your book, from pocket-sized of a few inches on either side to suit a humorous book, to 10x8in to suit a large text book. Before progressing further, read my article on how to format illustrations with text to cover setting up your book file on Word. Also consider paragraph settings and font choices. Using bleed or no bleed for print books will also prove useful for illustrated books that contain visual elements that encroach over the trim area of the margin.

How to Enhance Black and White Drawings

Drawings that have been completed in black and white lends itself to being scanned, (if size allows.) Ensure the scan setting is at least 300 DPI (dots per square inch) and that the glass cover is free of dust or dirt. The picture should be placed squarely on top and the lid held firmly down. Once the illustrations have been scanned and saved in Pictures, the images can be cleaned up and enhanced in the following ways:

Free Image Software for Illustrations

If the drawing lacks definition or the lines appear faint, increase the contrast setting a tad. This will make lines appear darker and the background whiter. This will also rid of unwanted tonal values of the background paper if it is cream or pale grey. This will help the illustrations stand out in isolation within the pages of the your book. Simply view your picture and click 'fix' to see toggle tools for saturation and exposure settings, etc.

Smudges and marks can be erased by viewing the image in Paint, a free Microsoft Imaging Programme. Just open the application and browse to the image saved in Pictures. Simply airbrush out with the ‘airbrush tool’ making sure the ‘paint’ is white. You can alternatively use the erasing tool. Just click and drag to rub out unwanted marks. Make sure to save the original picture on as a separate image should things go wrong.

How to Photograph Drawings

If the illustrations concerned are too large to scan or you don’t have an image scanner, you will have to take photographs. I would recommend the following tips for photographing black and white illustrations.
  • Use a tripod, or rest the camera on a stable surface to keep the camera steady
  • Rest the drawing onto a stable easel or similar to angle the drawing perpendicular to the lens. Avoid artificial light or flashbulb which can cause an unwanted colour cast over the paper. Nothing beats a bright, cloudy day. Shoot back to the main light source.
  • Beware of reflections or shadows encroaching over the drawing.
  • Set the resolution to maximum setting to eradicate graininess.
  • Don’t use a wide angle lens or this will distort the appearance of the drawing. Set the lens to around 40mm. Zooming in is fine, but watch for the ‘cropping feature,’ which will make the image appear grainy.
  • Make sure the drawing fills the viewfinder. Don’t worry about a little background showing, you can always trim this off in Pictures.
How to Photograph White Objects

A last point: photographing predominantly white objects, such as a drawing on white paper, will cause a false light reading. The object being ‘bright’ will cause the light meter in the camera to overcompensate and close the aperture in response, resulting in dark photographs. To counter this, attach grey (or mid-toned) card next to the drawing and take the light reading from that. Squeeze the shutter gently to ‘freeze’ the light setting (and the focusing) without taking the picture. Shift the viewfinder (without changing the proximity between camera and drawing). Squeeze the shutter for the shot Try out different exposure settings and select the best photograph. Try to take all the shots on the same day. Perfect the images once uploaded onto Pictures as described.

Formatting Illustrations in a POD Book

Now it is time to insert the images with the text on a Word document which should already be set to a particular page size to suit a trim size for your print book. There are 2 ways you can blend images with text. You can insert the text into the image via Paintshop Pro, or you can place the text alongside the images, as described in my article on formatting images with text. Of course, if you have placed text onto the drawing itself, as in speech bubbles, neither will be necessary, but you will still need to insert the image into the Word for chapter headings (if applicable), a contents page and copyright text.

Creating Black and White Illustrated Books

The great thing about black and white illustrations is that they are cheap to produce on POD, so you can offer your books at a competitive price. Now you just need to upload your perfectly-worded and formatted illustrated book onto a POD platform. First, save the book as PDF. You should have a book synopsis and a great book cover design prepared before doing so. Select white paper (not cream) as the printing option on Createspace. An internal book previewer on Createspace enables you to check how your book will actually look in print online. Now’s your chance to fix issues that may not have been apparent before. My list of links to articles relating to publishing illustrated books (see below) should cover all.

Books to Print Guide for Black and White Images on POD

Producing a black and white illustrated book, such as humour or comic strip requires crisp drawings, perfectly-worded text, knowledge on image software and correct formatting for POD. Each stage needs to be tackled carefully before moving onto the next. Taking perfect pictures is crucial for the book, as well as formatting the pictures properly. Once the book file has been approved by the POD platform, I would strongly recommend ordering a proof copy to ensure the print version stands up in quality prior to putting it for sale.

Articles on Publishing Books with Drawings

Formatting text with pictures
Bleed or no bleed in POD?
Formatting text and font styles for print books
How to design your own book cover
Troubleshooting poor image quality
Beginner's guide to publishing on Createspace
My website on writing novels

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Freelance Writing Guide: Online Magazine or Blog?

The writer hoping to make passive income may feel torn between writing for a blog and writing for an online magazine. There are pros and cons for both outlined below which might help the writer make an informed decision on which to go for.

Internet Magazine Sites with Good SEO on Page Rankings

Writing for an online magazine has various advantages over writing for a blog or website. Primarily, the size of the site, with thousands of pages, constantly being created by article writers is likely to fare better in Google rankings than a small website consisting of twenty or even a hundred pages. This means the writer will see Adsense earnings coming in quickly. Having said this, if the small website is themed around a niche subject matter with little competition, the website could get plenty of hits per month, but this will take more time.

Where to get Quality Inbound Links

If the online magazine permits you to, you can link your article from the emagazine to your own blog or website if both webpages are contextual. Inbound links from a quality site with big traffic will create a traffic stream to your own blog, helping to make your site discoverable and improve its page rank.

Tips on Making Profit from Freelance Writing

One of the biggest advantages of writing for an online magazine is the writing resources available, namely online tutorials on how to optimize your articles’ earnings and exposure. Writers’ forums also offer a wealth of information that is hard to find on the Net, such as tricks and tips on using the Google Adwords tool as well as the latest innovations for writers. Some online magazines have online editors who will offer support and advice on all matters relating to freelance writing.

Pros and Cons of Writing for an Emagazine

This is not to say that writing one’s own blog is futile, for smart strategies will make a blog successful. The importance of a niche subject, originality and the size of the blog are the key to its success and income yields. See foot of page for tips on making profit from your blog.

Why Blog over Emag?

This brings me to the advantages of writing for a blog over an emagazine. Firstly, the writer keeps all the Adsense revenue from Google ads without a third party taking a cut (this is how emagazines make money). The other disadvantage is commitment. Some online magazines have guidelines the writer must stick to, such as writing style or editorial vetting which the writer might not always agree on. The article will be displayed on the site, credited to your name, whether you agree to the edits or not. The writer in this respect has less control over the writing.

Best Magazine for Freelance Writing

The writer must take care to select the best emagazine to write for, as some are better than others. Reputations change, and an emagazine that was once eminent might go down the chute along with the writers’ repute by association. Quite a few online magazines had recently plummeted in Google rankings because of ‘content farming,’ writers copying and pasting sections of text from other sources. This penalization will ultimately hit earnings, and the big ship will go down, all writers onboard, good as well as bad. This is what happened to me. Writing your own blog means you have complete control over the site, including its appearance and the quality of the writing.

Which to Write for: Blog or Emagazine?

I see advantages and disadvantages of both. The online magazine will reap quicker rewards, but the writer has less control over the writing. The blog or personal website is slower to respond but will do so with some pushing. By all means, the writer with ample time and material could write for both, but the resultant schedule could be punishing. I have learned invaluable information from online writers’ forums, but I have also found a way of optimizing my blogs on Google’s rankings, but it has taken time.

Quick Money from Writing

The writer needing quick cash might opt for writing for an online magazine, but choose carefully. I have written a separate article on the top 10 questions for emagazine. The writer, who has a long term goal, might opt for the blog or personal website. Rewards are slow coming, but with time and patience, the money will start rolling in. The writer also has complete control over the writing and will not get penalized for another writer’s bad writing practices.

Tips on Making Profit from Freelance Writing

Top 10 questions for online magazines
Ten reasons why your blog isn't making money
Niche blogging for profit
The best online magazines to write for
Editing your writing

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Words to Avoid in Novel Writing

An otherwise compelling story could be undermined by the writer’s choice of words within the narrative prose. Regardless of how well-drawn the characters are or how unexpected the plot twist, if the writer allows weak words to seep in, the reader may not want to read on.

Have a listen to a short excerpt of my novel, the Shuttered Room narrated by Rachel Shirley, describing the inner feelings of Jess who is pursued by a kidnapper after she breaks out of the captive house. Notice how the narrative moves along at a steady, yet relentless pace. No sentence is allowed to sit and do nothing. Every word is made to count. Now to break things down.



Rotten Words in Novels

The focus of this article is not the words used in character dialogue, as natural speech is not word-perfect or tightly constructed. I am taking a personal view upon the sort of words the author would do better to use sparingly within the narrative prose. By cutting such words and changing sentence construction, the writer’s style can only improve. Let’s take them one by one.

Words with Clunky Suffixes

Words with clunky suffixes include dizziness, coolness, mindlessness, endlessly,
Clunky Words in Fiction
conscientiously consciousness, craziness, casualness, etc. I feel that the essences of the word has been diluted or padded up by their clunky appendage, robbing the true essence of the word. If faced with the prospect of using such a word, I would fish out my thesaurus and look for something else. Why not substitute:

Dizziness for vertigo,
Coolness for poise or
craziness for folly

See my YouTube clip on writing style



Words to Cut from Novels

Passive Voice in Writing
The verb ‘to be’ in the form of ‘was,’ ‘were,’ ‘is’ and ‘are’ need to be approached with caution, as overuse is often indicative of passive writing. ‘The wind was blowing through the trees’ does not sound as dynamic as ‘The wind blew through the trees.’ Passive writing suggests the noun is not doing anything, only having things done to it in a passive way.

Horrid Words to Avoid in Novel Writing

And here, I have just committed the offense: using the sort of word a lazy writer might use. Such words includes, lovely, wonderful, beautiful, adorable, horrible, nasty, terrible, pretty, silly. comely, etc. Such words seldom convey what the writer is actually saying. Who knows what these words mean, when used in sentences such as ‘she had a pretty face’ or ‘the drink tasted terrible’? A better strategy is to use such words sparingly and use any of the five senses to describe exactly how she was pretty or what was terrible about the taste.

Words for the Editing Pen

Words that convey an abstract concept means different things to different people. Shame, grief, nostalgia and love. Such words often need qualifying as love for a pet is different to love for a parent. Don’t use these words in isolation or the reader will feel detached from what the character is supposed to feel. Again, use the five senses to describe the sensations the character is feeling.

Tautology in Novel Writing

Words that repeat or provide a crutch for a hobbling word can sneak into your narrative prose like woodrot. Who needs to say, ‘he felt a cool sensation on his arms,’ when coolness cannot be anything other than felt? We can safely cut ‘feel’ and ‘sensation’ without losing the sense of the sentence. A suggested revision might be, ‘His arms gooserashed in the chilly air.’

Watch out for verbs such as feel, see, taste and hear, if the noun can only be perceived by one  of these sense. Change the sentence construction to include a strong noun, paired with an active verb.

Lazy Adjectives and Adverbs

Lazy Describing Words
He ran quickly, a large vehicle, a tall building.

Why not say, ‘he sped,’ ‘a juggernaut,’ ‘a skyscraper’?

Such overuse of adjectives and adverbs smacks of an aversion to the thesaurus to find a more accurate word. The cost of this is to use an 'almost' accurate word and pair it with a qualifier. A less than ideal fate for your writing. More examples are,

A small wood: a coppice; she gave a false smile: she simpered; a metal jug: a tankard.

Contrasting Words in Fiction

Another great tack I use in writing is to throw together contrasting words. Take a look at the prologue of my blog novel, Nora to see how I use contrasts in words. The beginning of the first paragraph is quite soft and uses words such as Cupid, eyelashes and ebony. But the ensuing sentence uses the words wanker and prick to make the reader sit up.

Great Words for Novels

Widen the range of words used in your novel. Create bizarre word pairings, use colourful active verbs and pick accurate words that will do the job of twenty words. Give nouns something to do: ‘Dusk descended,’ ‘The air thickened,’ ‘The sun blazed.’

Don’t stop at an apparent perfect word if you can find an even better word. Make the thesaurus your friend and it will do your novel writing service. And that means cutting weak words from your writing style.

Articles on Improving Novel Writing Style

Passive writing
How to describe emotions
Guide to editing your novel
How to prepare a book talk
Hated modern cliches in novel writing
My novel has died a death
Great names for your characters
How not to market your books

Verbs to Avoid in Novel Writing

The use of certain verbs can undermine the quality of your writing. The following simple writing exercise will tighten up your writing style and enforce the use of more creative verbs.

Creative Writing Exercise on Verbs

Improving your writing involves lots of practice and employing a certain amount of lenience. But watching out for the perils of passive writing, overuse of adjectives and clichés provides a quicker route to a sharp writing style. The focus of this article is however, the use of certain verbs such as: felt, hear, see and taste, the overuse of which I feel can be indicative of lazy writing. Take the following example:

Lazy Writing in Novels

‘She felt a sensation of dizziness as she struggled through the opener. She saw spots form in front of her eyes and she could smell the dinner burning. With renewed urgency, she forced her way through, rucking her dress.’

Pointless Words in Fiction
Let’s take this sample a little at a time. ‘She felt a sensation of dizziness as she struggled to climb through the opener.’ Dizziness cannot be seen or tasted; it can only be felt, so the verb ‘to feel’ is redundant in this context. For that matter, so is ‘sensation.’ Both words can be cut and replaced with one active verb to do the job of both.

I altered ‘dizziness’ to ‘vertigo,’ for it is a punchier noun. I also gave ‘vertigo’ something to do by pairing it with an active verb. The following suggestion is an improvement:

‘Vertigo surged through her as she struggled through the opener.’

How to Use Verbs in Writing more Effectively

Active Writing for Senses
The next part of the excerpt is, ‘she saw spots form in front of her eyes.’

Spots can only be seen, not felt or heard, so the verb ‘to see’ is redundant in this sentence. ‘Spots forming in front of the eyes’ is also a cliché. Why not change the whole sentence into one that centres upon a strong active verb and a noun? Snowstorm or blizzard is an improvement. Try

‘A frenetic blizzard splotched her vision for an instant.’

This cuts the use of ‘saw’ and creates a more dynamic sentence.

Creative Writing with Verbs

The third sentence, ‘…and she could smell the dinner burning.’

Again, the word ‘smell’ can easily be done away with. Why not change ‘dinner burning’ to a more specific description of the smell and give the resultant noun a strong active verb? An improvement might be, ‘burnt fat spiked the air.’

By cutting redundant verbs, in this case see, smell and feel, and pairing strong nouns with active verbs, the excerpt is instantly improved. The resultant excerpt might read:

‘Vertigo surged through her as she pushed her way through the opener. A frenetic blizzard splotched her vision for an instant. Burnt fat spiked the air. With renewed urgency, she forced her way through, rucking her dress.’

Example of Dynamic Writing

Keeping up this practice is hard when writing a full length novel. In chapter 1 of my blog novel, Nora, I avoided weak and redundant words. As can be seen in the excerpt, I avoided the words, hear, smell, see, felt etc. using only punchy adjectives and adverbs. Together with active verbs and accurate nouns, powerful imagery is created for the reader.

Creative Writing Exercise to Improve Writing

A novel littered with redundant verbs such as feel, hear and smell can have the accumulative effect of a writing style that is flabby and lazy. Substituting such verbs for active, colourful verbs can do wonders for your writing style. Of course, not every ‘feel’, ‘see’ or ‘hear’ can be cut, but by looking out for them and changing as many as you can, will create a more dynamic reading experience.

Articles to Help Improve Writing Style

Passive writing
Great themes for your novel
Overcoming writer's block
Writing dialogue for fiction
How to describe emotions
More words to avoid in novel writing