Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Writing Down the Bones: Mixing it up with Sentence Structure

The way you word your story is important. Too many sentences written the same way can bore your reader. Starting your sentences with the same word can do the same thing. Remember though when you're doing that rough draft just write. Don't worry about what word to use, if you have overused a word or if there is enough variety in your sentence structure. Once you start editing then you'll be looking at these things.

So, let's look at sentences written the same way.

Needing to see if any of her friends had arrived, Mary looked around the bar to see if she could spot anyone. Not seeing anyone, she sat at the bar. Wondering if she was too early, she went ahead and ordered a drink. Hearing her name called out, she looked around again.

Even though I started the sentences in the above paragraph with different words they are the same structure. That gets monotonous. So how would I fix it?

Mary hoped she wasn't too early. She was supposed to meet her friends here for a few drinks. Looking around, she didn't see anyone so went to the bar and ordered a drink.

"Mary!"

Her girlfriend's voice was loud enough to cut through her thoughts. Mary turned around and smiled. They were tucked in a small alcove toward the back. No wonder she didn't see them.

The same information was there but by changing the sentence structures I actually added more depth. You get a little of Mary's emotions. You learn that one of her friends has one of those voices that can cut through a crowd.

Now let's look at sentences starting the same way. The most common one is the he/she sentences.

She walked across the room to her friends, carrying her drink. She smiled as she sat down in the only empty chair. She was happy to be out of the house.

Grabbing her drink, Mary walked across the room to her friends. It was good to see them again. Work had been so hectic she hadn't had a chance to get away like this in a while. A smile filled her lips as she sat down in the only empty chair. Now this was the way to spend an evening.

Changing the sentences gives you a little more of Mary's thoughts and what she's been through. We  now know her work has been occupying a lot of her time and made her miss a few social gatherings. The choices I made here also took out some of the telling out and converted it to showing and made it a little less passive voice.

There is so much more to this sentence structure, that I'm not going to try to cram it all into one blog - I will continue to touch on it from time to time.

Barb:)




Monday, June 10, 2013

Random Thoughts: An Anonymous comment

I want to thank the person who left the anonymous comment on my last post - the more I thought about the post the more I wanted to make a blog about it and I was trying to come up with a subject for this post. I don't know what sort of firestorm I'm going to make over this, but what is life without a little controversy every once in awhile?

I could have deleted it and moved on, or released it and see what sort of comments I got to that particular blog - but no. I like to grab the bull by the horns.

Here's the comment first: Nice tips. Only drawback to this was that you used a well-established author;s title for her book as your own. Somewhat deceives the reader into clicking your link. using the title for "Writing Down the Bones" has nothing to do with what you've writing about here.
Anonymous


It made me go hmmm.

This is the fifth book in the series. I bet the at least three of the four other titles have been used before too. Why did this title get singled out? Titles aren't copyrighted. I remember years ago when three authors - well-established authors - each had a book coming out in the same month and with the same title. It was a big buzz around the RWA water cooler.

I didn't pick this title to ride on someone else's coat tales, I picked it because it fit the storyline of the book. I have a publisher and they didn't have a problem with the title and they have the last say. I don't know what other book has the same title as mine but I'm not worrying about it. The cover is done. The book comes out at the end of the month.

What I wanted to know was why anonymous would say a 'well-established author'. Is she saying I'm not well-established? What qualifies someone as well established? Who they publish with? How many books they have out? How long they've been published?

Hard Shell Word factory was one of the first electronic/small press publishers. I went with them because they were established and all the authors I knew who wrote for them had nothing but good things to say about them. Phaze is well known for erotic romance. Both are owned by Mundania which is a pretty big publisher.

I sold my first book in 1999 and have sold 19 titles since I became published. I have three full length books published through Hard Shell Word Factory. I had a short non-fiction article published in Crumbs in the Keyboard through Epsilon Press. I had four short stories all in different anthologies through Midnight Showcase and when they sold to Melange, Melange release all four shorts into one book  - I do count that as another sale. Then I sold another short which is in an anthology called Paranormal Dreams. (so we're at 10 right now) Phaze has  published 7 of my full length manuscripts is releasing Hesitant Desire at the end of the month and just bought book six, Forgotten Desire. Is nineteen not enough?

A friend of mine, Cathy Maxwell, said that getting five books sold proved you could write for a living. Depending on how you take that it could mean established.

On to the next comment. I'm deceiving people with my title and making them follow my link. That made me wonder. Hesitant Desire doesn't have a link. It hasn't been released yet and Phaze doesn't pre-sell. And are readers that naive to not know the name of the author they are looking for? When you do a book search by title the most popular authors are at the top of the list or those with a good promoter and I do my own promoting. I'm not a big I.T. person where I could load code to make my name come to the top.

When I started my Writing Down the Bones part of this blog I explained that it was my writing style. I start with the bones and flesh them out. I have been in this business a long time and I want to share the wealth. I have explained in different posts that I will jump around from time to time because of things that pop into my head.

I have to disagree with Anonymous, the cover page to a manuscript is something basic not all writers know. It fits the rest of the posts I have loaded. As time goes on I'll be talking about cover letters, outlines and that dreaded synopsis.

The fact that Anonymous didn't sign their name makes me wonder if they are the author of the book mentioned and feel I will steal potential readers. Maybe they are someone I know and are afraid to tell me who they are. Ir doesn't really matter but I can't help but ask these questions.

I would love to hear what you guys who read this think.



Barb:)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Writing Down the Bones: The Cover Page for Your Manuscript

As an editor for a publisher I'm learning that not everyone uses a cover page and there are times when I wished they did. The cover page has all the simple details the publisher needs. I was reading one manuscript and had no idea what genre it was. I couldn't tell if it was a romance, or murder mystery. That cover page would have answered my question.

A cover page is pretty simple. It should have the title of the book, what genre it is in, how many words, your name (and if you use a pen name both should be on the cover page), mailing address, email address, phone number.

Here's what mine looks like:

I always center it on the page and the line


Forgotten Desire

Book Six

The Vespian Way

SF/Futuristic Erotic Romance

80,000 words

Barbara Donlon Bradley 

Pen Name: Don't use one*

Mailing Address

Phone number

e-mail address

* I don't write pen name: I don't have one - I did that so you guys get an idea of what you should write

Just by this simple information you know the title, that it is a series and which book in the series I'm submitting, you know it's science fiction/futuristic, you know it is an erotic romance and you know it is a full length manuscript.

This does help the editor when he or she is reading your book for the first time. Not every book tells you what it is in the very beginning. What if it is a time travel and it starts off as a contemporary. Without the cover page the editor isn't going to know that. What if they are looking for time travel but have plenty of contemporaries? You could be shooting yourself in the foot without that cover page. Not every editor gets your synopsis or cover letter that might have that detail.

Using a cover page is up to you, but I do recommend it. It makes your manuscript look more professional, and gives your potential publisher the info they want in a quick glance.