Articles tagged "Writing style"

Authors using the Helix Review: William J. Smith

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 12.45.04 AMWilliam J. Smith, author of the science fiction novel, Straight from Heaven; Delivered from Hell recently submitted his work for a Helix Review.  This is what he had to say about his experience.

Tell us a bit about your book:
The Smith family was a normal,middle-class family living happily in the suburbs of New York,with three gorgeous children,and a fourth on the way,but almost as soon as that child is born,a group calling themselves The Apocalypse Watchers,shows up at their house, preaching that the Anti-Christ has been born,and they come to believe that this new member of the family is the Anti-Christ and that they must rid the world of her by any means necessary to avoid Armageddon.Can the Smiths protect their little girl,Carol Anne,from these crazy cultists,or will The Apocalypse Watchers succeed in putting an end to the Anti-Christ’s reign once and for all?

How would you describe your writing style:

I usually like to write in the third person in which I’m the narrator telling the reader about events that happened to me, my fictional family, fictional children, and set these books 5-10 years into the future (which,right now,is 2020-2025).

Why did you decide to try Helix:

To give me some advice and constructive criticism of my writing style.

What were you able to learn from the Helix Review:

That my writing style, in some areas matches those of other, more notable and well-known authors.

How do you plan to use the Helix information:

To tweak my writing style to make it more professional and appealing to readers.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix:

Helix is a useful tool to help you evaluate your writing style.

About the Helix Review
Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book. – See more at: http://www.lulu.com/blog/category/helix-review/#sthash.RIG4o0bN.dpuf
Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

Authors using the Helix Review: B.D. Salerno

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 12.33.19 AMNext up in our ongoing series on Helix Review authors is B.D. Salerno, author of Forensics by the Stars: Astrology Investigates.  Here’s what he had to say about the Helix experience:

Tell us a bit about your book:
The author, an avid reader of true crime as well as an accomplished astrologer, delves into the use of astrology as a means of gaining more insight into famous crimes, world events and missing persons cases.  Examples of well known crimes include a discussion of the murder of Marilyn Monroe, the peculiar crash of TWA Flight 800 — whose investigation has been recently reopened — and the Haiti earthquake.  The book includes a useful appendix of astrological information for the beginner and lay person alike.

How would you describe your writing style:

My writing requires the careful research and retelling of famous crimes and events, as seen through the lens of the astrology horoscope cast for the moment of those events.   The horoscope is analyzed in clear and concise terms and the astrological symbolism is explained.  While the writing is journalistic in scope, it is also explanatory and educational for the reader, citing news sources as well as classic astrological references.

Why did you decide to try Helix:

There are very few books on the market related to my topic so I wanted to se how my book stacked up against other current works in the field.

What were you able to learn from the Helix Review:

I gained a sense of confidence in seeing that my writing is comparable to other works and measured favorably when compared to other books in the field.

How do you plan to use the Helix information:

In an effort to keep my work as educational and concise as possible I will strive to keep sentence length a little shorter than its current ranking, which was slightly longer than average.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix:

I would tell them it is a very worthwhile investment which can provide helpful guidelines for future writing endeavors.

For more information about B.D. Salerno and  Forensics by the Stars:  Astrology Investigates:

Author Website
Author TwitterAuthor Facebook

About the Helix Review

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

Authors using Helix Review: Jack Gunthridge

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 11.02.07 AMFor the next installment of our series on the Helix Review, we spoke with Jack Gunthridge, author of the romance novel “Broken Hearts Damaged Goods,” about his experiences with the Helix Review.

Tell us a bit about your book:

When Jack and Liselle find themselves having been cheated on, they decide to use each other to get over the heartache.  They would be each others rebound so that nobody else would get hurt.

How would you describe your writing style?

My writing style is very natural and conversational.  I want the readers to feel the experiences of the people in the book.  With a romance, I want the women to identify with the female lead and to fall in love with the male lead.

Why did you decide to submit your book for a Helix Review?

Since I am a male author writing romance novels, I wanted to see how I compared to the more traditionally published female authors.  I wanted to see how I was similar and how I could set myself apart.

What did you learn from Helix?

The Helix Review allowed me to see the normal range of the pacing of the genre I am working in.  Given this information, I can better determine if I am on track with other authors, or if I might want to increase my pacing.

How are you going to use what you learned?

I plan on looking at my books more and dissecting it differently than I would with normal editing where I look at spelling, grammar, punctuation, and making sure the ideas are presented clearly.  I can now look at making my works fit more into the genre.  I can also balance this with what makes me unique as a writer.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix?

It is definitely worth the money.  It lets you know where you are as an author.  Are your sentences too long?  Are they too short?  Where do you fit in with other authors?  How are you different?  It helped to answer a lot of these questions.

For more information about Jack Gunthridge and “Broken Hearts Damaged Goods,” please visit:

About the Helix Review:

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

Top ten errors writers make that editors hate

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.40.50 PMHelga Schier, independent writing and publishing consultant and founder of Withpenandpaper.com, recently gave a brilliant presentation at the Writer’s Digest Conference covering the trials and tribulations of book editors.  More specifically, she eloquently and succinctly outlined a list of the top ten errors editors hate — and often see — the most. For the writers in the room, this was a gold mine of valuable information and I would like to share what I learned.

First and foremost, there are three levels of editing and they should all build upon each other.

  • Editing that deals with the surface structure of the words on your page – copy-editing.
  • Editing that deals with style and voice, as well as, tightening your manuscript by getting rid of unnecessary sections – line editing.
  • Editing that deals with ways to make your world come to life, including ways to create your characters, build your world, and write good dialogue  – conceptual editing.

Before you hand your book to an editor, you should have already gone through these three levels of review…

The Basics: Writing

1. Editors hate it when it’s clear that you never ran that spell-check.

These are things everyone can fix.  This level deals with spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Your words are your tools so make sure they are in good working order. Some may argue that editors should care more about the story and characters. This is true, but these kinds of mistakes greatly distract readers from understanding and absorbing the book.  Your job as an author is to take the reader by the hand and take them on a journey through the story.  Bad grammar or spelling mistakes detract and sway from that journey.

2. Editors hate it when you serve leftovers.

  • Plot or character inconsistencies
  • Timeline issues

A good way to keep this from happening is to run a second reader check. Give your book to someone who will critically read it and ask them to report on things that don’t make sense to them.

Beyond the Basics: Writing in Style

3. Editors hate it when the writing is heavier than a ten-ton-truck.

  • Inflated sentences – polish your sentences, don’t use unnecessary lead-ins. Get to the point or meat of the sentence quickly.
  • Stilted language – you want to meet your readers through your work and you want to call the readers attention to your story or argument.  Unnecessary language reminds readers that they are actually reading and takes them away from being immersed in your world.
  • Overuse of adjectives and adverbs – makes a story feel cumbersome and lazy.  Most adjective and adverb phrases don’t do the description justice.

4. Editors hate it when style isn’t really style but writing in your comfort zone.

  • Repetitive use of vocabulary
  • Repetitive sentence structure and length

Every writer has a set of words that they fall back on and don’t often notice unless they specifically go looking for them.  Remedy: make a list of your most used words/phrases and go through your manuscript hunting them down.  Make sure your characters use their favorite words not yours.

Vary the length of the length and structure of sentences to provide a unique mix for the readers. Also, allow your characters to use varied sentence structure depending on their personality, background, and environment in which they find themselves. Step outside your comfort zone and find your voice.

5. Editors hate clichés. Except when they don’t.

  • Innovate and personalize clichéd images and comparisons.
  • Use clichés and stereotypes as character markers.
  • Turn stereotypes upside down to define a personality or relationship.

Leave trusted clichés behind. Clichés are predictable and writing should never be predictable.  Replace established clichés with your own creative ones. These images should be new and personal but, not obscure to your readers. You want your readers to turn the pages because they can’t wait to see what is beyond the next paragraph.

Far Beyond the Basics: Writing to make your world come to life

6. Editors hate it when characters resemble cardboard cutouts.

Don’t let your characters be predictable and don’t give your character’s entire back story all at once.  Readers can’t digest that volume of information and the story comes to a screeching halt with all suspension of disbelief gone. Giving the character’s back story is not the same as creating and developing a character that comes to life. You want fully developed characters with their own psychological make-up, who have a past, hopes for the future, and most importantly, a motivation or reason for their actions.

7. Editors hate it when the narrative tells rather than shows.

  • Scenes need to show how characters act and interact.
  • Narrative needs to observe, not comment.

Show don’t tell, but this does not mean that you should shy away from the description. “Show don’t tell” refers to the way your characters should interact. Scenes cannot happen in a vacuum. Your narrative must develop the scene.  Don’t simply say, “the restaurant was loud”, rather describe the conversation at the bar, the waiter dropping the tray, the phone ringing off the hook at the host stand. If you show something well enough, there is no reason to tell the reader.

8. Editors hate it when dialogues turn into speeches.

  • Dialogue requires that people interact with each other verbally and non-verbally.
  • Dialogue passes on information.
  • Dialogue defines characters and their relationships.
  • Dialogue exposes tension and conflict.

Dialogue in a novel is polished speech that serves certain functions…it shows relationship, moves the story along, creates scenes, etc.  None of your characters should ever lecture or pontificate. Dialogue should always have at least two people interacting verbally and non-verbally. The words a character chooses says a lot about the character’s background, personality, and status. Again, words should be theirs, not yours. Dialogue words must also fit the situation. Someone will speak differently given a different situation.

People don’t necessarily say what they mean or mean what they say. There is often a subtext. Do the characters have a relationship? Trust each other? Hate each other? Have a secret crush? This all can come through in the subtext of the dialogue.

9. Anything goes! But just because you say doesn’t make it so.

  • Events must be caused by earlier events and lead to the next.
  • Natural story development depends on the interplay of plot and character.
  • A character’s natural behavior must be motivated by his/her psychological disposition.

Remember, in a novel one event must lead to the next and the interplay of your characters and events should create the plot…in other words, it is the characters that write their own stories.

10. Editors hate hangnail writing.

  • Everything in your story has an impact on your readers.
  • Show and tell your readers only what is relevant. No more.
  • Show and tell your readers everything that is relevant. No less.

An extra scene, banter, subplots, or characters that don’t drive the story forward create boredom and distrust of the author.   Show the readers what is relevant, no more and no less. Readers take in everything about the story, so you must follow through. You absolutely must show everything that is relevant as readers only see what you show not what you may know.

Quick but hugely important tip:

Take time off from your manuscript, a step back, and gain distance. In that time…READ, READ, READ (other people’s work) then, reread your work.  First, start looking for the big picture stuff. Before you edit, read it again and look at style and genre. The third time, go for typos, spelling etc. DO ALL OF THIS BEFORE YOU BEGIN TO REVISE!

For access to Schier’s slide deck, click here.

 

 

 

Authors using Helix Review: Abdul Karim Musaliar

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 3.43.54 PMAbdul Karim Musaliar, author of the crime novel, “The Transgressions of Achan Kunju” recently used the Helix Review to gain further insight into his particular writing style and how his book compared to others within his selected genre.  Here is what he had to say about using the Helix Review:

Tell us a bit about your book:

The book is about the son of a priest who is born in India but then goes to Provo, Utah to join a sect. He is transformed as orator. The sect makes him a preacher and sends him to his native land.  There he marries and has two daughters and that’s where the story takes a drastic turn involving adultery, the mafia, and many other criminal transgressions.

How would you describe the writing style of the book?

The narrative style I have is used is autobiographical with the protagonist bring a former classmate of mine. The narration is interspersed with autobiographical sketches.

Why did you decide to submit your book for the Helix Review?

I needed to know the quality of my writing.

How are you going to use what you learned?

Now that I know something about motion, density, dialog, description, and pacing, I can incorporate the same in my writing.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix?

It has opened my eyes on my weaknesses. I would certainly recommend it to potential writers.

About the Helix Review:

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

Authors using Helix Review: John Locke

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 3.19.58 PMFor the next installment of our series on the Helix Review, we recently spoke to John Locke, author of “Stuff I’ve Written So Far,” about his experiences with the Helix Review. “Stuff I’ve Written So Far” is a compilation of various works, including essays from his first semester as a doctoral student. John Locke covers a variety of topics, but, throughout the book, there is a common thread – economic and social justice.

Tell us a bit about your book:

“Stuff I’ve Written So Far” is a collection of essays on topics of political revolutions and US intervention in world affairs.

How would you describe your writing style?

My writing style is mostly scholarly, however I can’t resist interjecting a bit of irony and sardonicism from time to time.

Why did you decide to submit “Stuff I’ve Written So Far” for a Helix Review?

I wanted to see how my book measured up to others in the genre.

How are you going to use what you learned?

I am encouraged. By comparing my book to another text that I have a great deal of respect for, and receiving a favorable review, I can proceed with confidence as I work on my next book.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix?

It’s worth a try.

For more information about John Locke and “Stuff I’ve Written So Far,” please visit:

About the Helix Review:

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

Authors using Helix Review: Ian Thomas Phillips

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 1.52.52 PMIan Thomas Phillip’s first collection of poetry, “69 Poems,” marks the first publication for the twenty-two year old poet from Illinois. Written to express the often-conflicting nature of the world around us, “69 Poems” shares Ian’s thoughts and ideas after two years of “wading through life’s many mud holes” and includes a glossary of words not frequently heard in conversation.

Ian turned to the Helix Review to gain insight into how his first collection of poetry compared to the “greatest books and authors” and understand how his work compares to other ‘popular poets’.

How would you describe your writing style?

“Form and rhyme are the most important aspects of my poetry writing philosophy. Many poems are written in the spirit of satire.”

Why did you decide to submit “69 Poems” for a Helix Review?

“I am curious to know how my work might compare to the greatest books and authors of this and previous ages.”

How are you going to use what you learned?

“I learned how the topics of my poetry relates to the subjects that are popular among other authors. In considering my audience, I can compare the assessment of my work to that of what is popularly written about.”

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix?

“It is a helpful tool that can quantify the ‘uniqueness’ of your work.”

For more information about Ian Thomas Phillips and “69 Poems, please visit:

About the Helix Review:

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

Authors using Helix Review: Gregory L. Truman

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 1.17.38 PMWhether you’re writing a book for the first time or finishing up your 12th in a series, entering new genres can be a daunting task. All kinds of questions emerge during the writing process: Is this going to resonate with readers? Is the story something people will appreciate and learn from? How am I going to go market and sell this thing?

Gregory L. Truman had these questions as he was writing Hitting the Wall, subtitled “a layman’s comedic rant on the state of our domestic ignorance, global pitfalls, and the excessive, compulsive behavior of the North American culture.” To get his questions answered, he decided to try Helix.

How would you describe your writing style:

“As a writer, I think it’s important to hit the facts hard, with a small twisted insert of comedy, as readers like information to be delivered clearly, understandably and unaltered.  As a writer, I have taken out the soft-landings and added the in-your-face facts when writing about issues that trouble our broken world as a reminder of the severity and importance of taking action and being part of the solution and not the problem.   The approach was simple, keep the reader engage, write a book that fit the mindset of today’s society and at the same time hopefully open their eyes to the reality of our world.”

Why did you decide to try Helix:

“As a new budding writer I believed I had a book that everyone should read! As we all know what we think and what is the reality are two different things. The Helix Review provided an independent, non- carbon life form to provide me with two very specific objectives; 1) Is the style of my writing within the genre and how do I really compare to other best selling authors? And 2) Should my book prove to be comparable in motion, density, dialog, description and pacing with other best sellers who are the author’s publishers? The Helix Review helps writers to narrow down the best publishers that are interested in their type of genre and writing style.”

What were you able to learn from the Helix Review:

“I realized after using the Helix Review that I was writing properly and with in a “standard” that is widely acceptable and marketable as a writer.”

How do you plan to use the Helix information:

“The information provided in the 21 page report helped me target specific publishers, it has provided me with 10 other best selling books that I can compare and use when discussing books that are rated as similar in writing style.”

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix:

“If you are a new budding writer or a seasoned pro I think the Helix Review is money well spent! It offers writers a rare window of opportunity for a non-subjective, realistic review of your style of writing.”

For more information about Gregory L. Truman and Hitting the Wall:

Author website
Twitter
Author Spotlight

About the Helix Review:

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

 

Authors on the Helix Review: Harley White

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 10.09.23 AMThe next author in our series on the Helix Review interviews Harly White, a biography and memoir writer who also writes poetry, songs, stories, short and long, and works based on fairy tales. Her latest book, The Autobiography of a Granada Cat: As told to Harley White, White weaves the tale (no pun intended) of a stray cat inhabiting the steep winding, cobbled streets of the Albayzín, Granada. When an American expatriate couple adopts her, life events, art, history, vivid imagery and deep heart-felt experiences ensue. The book is marvelously laid out for the reader to soak in, feel, suffer, and enjoy through her experiences.

White originally used the Helix review to put her writing to the test.  She notes that she is very confident in the work she puts out, “I have complete faith in this my book and am willing to go to any length to ascertain this is, in fact, true.” After completing the review White noted that she learned some very interesting things about the book and her writing style that would, “help any writer.”

For more information about Harley White:

Website
Poetry
Blog
The Autobiography of a Granada Cat: As told to Harley White

About the Helix Review

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.