Tag Archives: Online Writing

Tone and Poor Word Choice

This wasn’t the first item I wanted to cover from my last post in more detail, but it has become the most pressing in my mind since it was added. I have been reading some of the works of my fellow indie authors, and it has been a lot of fun seeing what they are up to. I have been thinking about what makes a work that is enjoyable, and I have come to strongly believe that word choice is a major player in that arena. Have you ever read a piece that had limited word choice? I am currently reading a book I shall not name, largely because I would never publicly bash someone’s blood sweat and tears unless I could not find a single ‘nice’ thing to say about it, and I do not want anyone to take this the wrong way. Beside, overall, the story is enjoyable, and although it was slow to warm up, it is coming along nicely, with one minor flaw: repetitive word use.

Now you may be wondering what I mean by that, so allow me to explain. Given all the words there are in the English language, we often have options that allow us to say exactly the same thing in a variety of ways. Why is it then, that writers become stuck in a rut and use the same words or phrases at regular intervals? This is something I mostly became aware of when I was rereading some of my own work, and I have made it my personal ambition to NOT reuse the same verbs, nouns and adjectives at too high a frequency. To say something is beautiful is nice. To say it twice on the same page detracts from the sincerity. To say it 3 or more times on the same page becomes monotonous.

How can one work to avoid falling into this boring habit? For starters, there is a nifty tool that can be accessed simply by double clicking a word to highlight it, then right clicking to view the alternate options under synonyms. Of course, you have to know exactly what the word means that you are implying, as well as the one that you are opting for, as the fine line between what you meant to say and what you actually said can be crucial. There was a post recently that I followed on FB discussing a self-published book that was horrid in this regard to the point of being hysterical. The author had followed this trick, but had chosen words that didn’t mean anywhere close to what was intended.

That leads us to the second part of using this device; if you aren’t 100% sure, or have any doubt, use the dictionary to look up either or both words, used and options, to be sure the alignment is there before you make the trade. I am sure you all know what a malapropism is, but in case any of you are not familiar with it, I will elaborate. This is a literary term that refers to using an incorrect word that sounds like the one that it is being mistaken for; such as referring to the kiddy pool as the kitty pool. If you were speaking, you might be able to get away with such a slip, but in writing, it stands out more, especially if you decide to switch out ‘kitty’ to make it more interesting and end up with some outlandish non-plausible word choices in it’s place.

Finally, I feel I should address what all of this has to do with Tone, as I titled this article with the purpose of making that connection. The tone of your work comes largely from the words you put into it, kind of like you are cooking up a pot of stew that is flavored by the items you put in the pot. If all you put in are potatoes, then all you get is potato soup. However, if you toss in a wider variety of items, you get a great deal more flavor, and you are able to adjust the tone of your work more finely, taking your reader to new highs and lows more easily and far more believably. Ignoring this fact could drive readers away from your offerings, as having to read that people never walk, run, jog, meander, wander or saunter anywhere, but they are always ‘headed’ where ever they are going can at some point leave your readers looking for the exit to escape what might have been a good story with just a little more appropriate descriptive language.

Putting the word out…

For days now, I have been working on looking for book blogs for reviews, giveaways, etc. It has been pretty interesting to see all of the time and work that some of the sites have had put into them. I made a page here so that I could start keeping tabs on some of the ones that I like the best. Now I just have to go back and find the ones that I saw before that.

I must admit, working on something like this can be quite tedious. Especially since there is no set way that people want the information. Some want it boom – there it is, others seem to want to see a dog an pony show. I also never realized just how many book review blogs there were out there – and believe me there is more than you can go through in a day, or even a couple of days.

What I would really like is to just find a couple that I really connect with and can work with. I don’t think that is too much to ask. I gave out 15 copies of my book, and only have 1 left that has not given me feedback. All but one of those wants to know when they can get the next book and to hurry up about it, which is great!!! Therefore, I am confident people are going to like it, if I can ever get them to read it. I am just such a person of action, and I hate ‘waiting’ for people to reply to me and tell me whether or not they are interested… call me impatient.

Oh well, back to the searching… Later.

So now I am thinking….

I have been doing a lot of research about authors and publishing a book and thinking about how much putting myself out there like this is going to change my life, or could change it. It is a little scary for me, having had some of the crazy things in my past that I don’t think other people think about.

For example, I was on a particular blog, and instead of a ‘follow’ button, the girl had a ‘stalk me’ button. I realize that she is trying to be cute, and it is kind of funny in the context of the rest of her blog, but I, having actually been stalked before and seen the darker side of things, find that somewhat troublesome.

I have a pretty public job now, and many people know me. I guess you could say, I work in a profession where you are expected to take on a certain role, even in your private life. I can scarcely go any where in my town without seeing someone who knows me, either now or from years gone by, and I can’t help wondering how my actions are affecting the people I work with and my community.

I guess I should mention, the last thing I wanted when I first started working on this was to have people know that I wrote it, but the more into it I get, the more fun I think it is going to be, and I can’t wait until I can devote myself full time to the cause… Maybe this is as much about my getting a new life as the girl in my story.

Getting Started

Was awake several times last night at odd hours thinking about this. Guess that is how it goes for me, up at odd hours with my head full of ideas and things to do…

I wanted to create a place where I could post about my series of books, and to allow others to comment on it as well. I have many friends who have read the first book now, and have gotten a variety of interesting comments personally about it, so I will explain a bit about it here and see where it leads.

First off, where did the story come from? I wrote a series of stories that I have told and retold in my mind for up to twenty years now. The nice thing about doing it in your head, you can play with different aspects and change things just to see where it leads. Putting it on paper, it becomes more solid, more final… this is how it is sort of thing. I hate to say this, but the people who know me already know, this girl is real in my mind, and the things that happened to her are as real as my own memories. Now she lives in the pages of my books.

Secondly, why so many books that are so short? I broke the story up into segments that were manageable and related. I like this because you can read the parts you like over and over, without having to suffer through the parts you don’t like to get there. The first book is definitely the darkest, as it warns you on the back cover. Life of Recovery is almost like a prequel, giving all the background you might or might not need for the rest of the story. You don’t have to read it, as the rest of the books only refer back to it in pieces, and give enough information you are not completely lost without it. However, if you really want the full depth and can handle the truth, then by all means give it a read, at least once. Oh and the large print – that’s cause I am old and I don’t like to struggle to read books, so enjoy.

Thirdly, about romance. I selected the category of romance for my series, largely because as a whole, this is the story about her life, and my favorite part is Book 3 – Life of Love. It tells about the romance portion of her life, which is carried through to the end of the series afterwards, if there is an end. Some have told me this is more of a thriller or suspense novel (speaking of Life of Recovery of course) and I would have to agree with that assessment as well, but that may change when more of the story is revealed.

Finally, why didn’t I just write one long book? Because I detest a book I cannot read in one weekend with life in between. That is why I gave up reading books years ago and just made up my own. I have lots of stories to tell, some fantasy, some dark, some comedy. This is the story I decided to share first. I have many tales about this girl, and I have 4 of them completed, as of today. I have 2 more that will be finished by the ‘end’ of the series, but there are at least a dozen more that I could (or not) tell at some time down the line.

A New Life is meant to come in small segments, just as real life does. I want you to enjoy it without missing out on any part of your own life. No staying up all night to get to the end of the 300 pages that are left (done that). No spending your entire holiday reading an 800 page butt burner (done that too). Just pick up a piece when ever you have time and dream a little. Then put it down and let it roll around in your head for a while. In case you didn’t notice when you read the first one, it is part of the intrigue, and things are seldom what they seem when you have time to reflect upon them in between.

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