We’ve all heard the expression, polished writer . . . well we should also make sure we have a polished novel. Write the book that flows, is exciting, grabs your senses, is powerful, and is tight and crisp.
There are some simple tricks you can do to make sure your book has that polish.
Let’s start by talking about writing short sentences. Don’t you hate the sentence that is a paragraph long with about twelve commas? I know I do. You almost have to go back and read it again, just to make sure you caught it all! There are never too many ‘hard returns.’
Names can be cleaned up and polish your book. How? Never have several characters starting with the same alpha; John, Janet, Jimmy, and Jordan. Sheesh, that’s the kiss of death . . . the reader can’t remember who is who!
Be careful to always call a character by one name . . . Lawrence Johnson can be Larry or Johnson (detectives have a way of using last names) but not both after an introduction.
Use names that fit your characters. It would be difficult to find out Bubba Smith is the killer or Sissy Summer poisoned her mother. I’d believe Derek Macklin and Dana Gruby might be killers. Just be careful to make everything, right down to a character’s name – believable.
Be careful with slang. What might be ‘common language’ in your state might not be the case in another. For instance in Montana they refer to ditches as coulees. Who woulda thunk?
And another little tip, use swearing sparingly. Offensive language is just that – offensive. I agree that there are just some characters who would absolutely, without a doubt, no questions asked say the ‘F’ word. I had to use it once, and I shocked myself. My character blurted it out and I knew I had to type it. (That was sooo against my natural self – and I shocked a few of my family and friends when they read the book.)
We have to be honest to our characters – our readers will see right through a tough, mean jerk who says, “Golly gee!”
These simple writing comments will tighten your story and make it shine more than you could imagine. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.