Workshop Hosted by Ron Edison~ Overuse of 'had' in narrative: Indicative of an unnecessary/unintentional flashback; becomes repetitive
~ Rid your MS of them or use contractions to make them less visible.
~ Using had in flashbacks: 3 elements that they should contain
1. Emotional trigger -- Transition sentence with the word had. Establish character & POV clearly
2. Flashback scene -- Written in simple past -- NO "had's"
3. Transition sentence -- brings you back to present -- usually an action at the start of a new paragraph
~ Determine emotional mood before you write
~ Show character DOING something
~ Tell, don't ask! Don't let your character ask too many questions (internally). It makes them appear weak and indecisive. Form them as statements instead. Ex: Was he a werewolf? I wondered if he was a werewolf. Are my parents dead? I hope my parents aren't dead.
~ Have an action goal for each scene: make your characters DO something, not just thinking about things. If character does need to think about something, summarize it.
~ Don't overuse "it" or "some" -- it's confusing and lazy. If you don't care about the details, why will your reader?
~ Physical actions don't always work as dialogue tags. Examples: you can't smile, sneer, sneeze, or laugh while you're talking. They should be separate sentences from the dialogue. Facial expressions are good to use, just don't overuse them. Talk with the hands or use big actions (throwing things, stomping away, etc.) *Watch TV with the sound off for ideas*
~ Be smart when naming your characters! Common complaints from readers/writers/editors:
* Names ending in "s"
* Names difficult to pronounce
* People names for animals
* Boys names for girls and vice versa
* Names with same initial consonant (All your characters start with D or B)
~ Euphemisms are NOT your friends. AVOID THEM!
~ DO NOT EVER manipulate your readers. If your character has a plan -- tell your readers about the plan. Don't withhold critical information once you mention it.
~ Don't interrupt action with needless descriptions.
~ Slang does have an expiration date. Use it carefully.
"Ten Tips to Stronger Writing" by Linda George.