Overused Words You Should and Shouldn’t Delete

overused-words

If you spend some time in writer critique circles, I’m sure you’ve heard the well-intended advice to delete words “that” or “was” from your writing. I’m here to clarify when you should, and when you SHOULDN’T, delete these words.

Once you’ve read the lesson, I’ve got a master list of commonly overused words for you to refer to while revising.

Delete “that”

Sometimes a sentence needs the word “that” in order to be read correctly. For example:

He knew from the way I carried myself and the name tag I had been
wearing my father is mayor.

The sentence above reads like a run-on without the word “that.” It reads better like this:

He knew from the way I carried myself and the name tag I had been
wearing that my father is mayor.

Don’t delete “that” from sentences which use a “from” or “by” to describe how a person learns something. The “by” or “from” signifies how, and the “that” signifies what was learned.

If you delete the “that,” use punctuation to allow the reader time to switch from how to what:

You can tell by the way I use my walk,
I’m a woman’s man: no time to talk.

In most cases, I agree that “that” should be removed from sentences. 😉

But before deleting all instances, consider readability and meaning of the sentence with and without the word. “That” can be a symptom of wordiness, but it isn’t the problem. Sometimes clarity requires more words.

Delete “was” or “is”

The being words aren’t the problem. The problems are passive voice and incorrectly using “-ing” words. First, passive voice.

How to find passive voice

Passive voice is a verb with a “to be” helper verb (is/am/are/was/were/have been) in front of it and an -ed or -en ending. Here are some examples:

  • is forbidden
  • am bitten
  • are captured
  • was eaten
  • were smooched
  • have been made

How to fix passive voice

To fix passive voice, you need to find the true subject. Read the sentence and ask “by whom or what?” The answer to that question is the true subject.

  • Peanut butter is forbidden [by the PTA] —> THE PTA forbids peanut butter.
  • I am bitten [by my vampire boyfriend] —> MY VAMPIRE BOYFRIEND bit me.
  • Rebels are captured by the Empire —> THE EMPIRE captured rebels.
  • Spaghetti was eaten [by all] —> WE ALL ate the spaghetti.
  • Our cheeks were smooched by Great Aunt Millie —> GREAT AUNT MILLIE smooched our cheeks.
  • Mistakes have been made [by the administration] —> THE ADMINISTRATION made mistakes.

Should you fix passive voice?

Generally yes. Active verbs are stronger than passive verbs. Passivity is considered negative and weak.

However, sometimes passive voice is necessary. Sometimes the true subject needs to stay hidden (for suspense) or is unknown. Sometimes the object is more important than the true subject. This is especially true when the subject is a victim.

Do search for passive voice, but understand when to make it active and when to keep it positive.

What isn’t passive voice? Tricky -ed Adjectives

Being verbs are used as auxiliary verbs—helpers to other verbs, as in the case of passive or perfect voice—or as linking verbs, when they link the subject to a noun or adjective.

“He is happy” is pretty obviously not passive voice because “happy” isn’t a verb. But what about “He is excited”? Sure, you can ask “by whom or what” here, because you can be excited by something. Excite is a verb. But excited is also an adjective. So are pleased, confused, thrilled, delighted, flattered

Check the dictionary to see if the word is an adjective, and remember the rule about passive voice: Sometimes the object is more important than the true subject. In the case of linking verbs and adjectives, the character whom the adjective describes is usually more important than whatever is causing the effect.

Read more about linking verbs below, and the problems people have with them, too.

Delete “was” (also “-ing” verbs or “gerunds”)

Nearly every time I see someone online advising writers to cut “ing verbs,” that person doesn’t understand what a progressive verb is. And if those bloggers don’t know what a progressive verb is, they certainly don’t know what gerunds or active participial phrases are.

gerund is an “ing” word used as a noun. For example, Singing annoys Kristina—”Singing” there is a noun, because you could replace it with “Steve” or “fish” or “politics” and it would still make grammatical sense.

progressive verb is a verb with an -ing ending and a “to be” helper verb (is/am/are/was/were/has been/have been/will be/would be/will have been/would have been…) in front of it. The girl was singing— “was singing” is a progressive verb.

An active participial phrase is an “ing” word used as an adjective, often as part of a larger adjectival phrase. Singing loudly, the girl was annoying Kristina—”singing loudly” is an adjectival phrase talking about the girl, and “was annoying” is the verb, the action she is performing.

Getting -ing Verbs Right

Progressive verbs are sometimes used incorrectly. The key word is “progressive.” A progressive verb shows an action happening continually or at the same time as something else:

I was washing my face when Harold burst into the bathroom.

This sentence shows a progressive action. Changing that to this…

I washed my face when Harold burst into the bathroom.

…changes the meaning of the sentence. (Why did his bursting into the room cause me to wash my face?)

Progressive verbs often are used correctly.

However, if you’re throwing in progressive verbs for no reason, you can cut the “is/am/are/was/were” and “-ing” to create a simpler, less wordy verb. Chances are, that verb could be stronger, and in some works, that word count could be better spent elsewhere.

Barbara is eating a sandwich when Doug takes the dog for a walk.

Rather than put the focus on the act of Barbara’s continual eating, focus on something more important, like what about the sandwich was so remarkable it had to be included in the story.

Barbara savors her cheesesteak as if it were her last meal. Nauseated by the stench of her onions, Doug takes the dog for a walk.

Getting -ing Adjectives and Adjective Phrases Right

First, make sure the adjective is attached to the right noun.

Considering Nigel’s allergies, the cat needed to find another home.

That’s a misplaced modifier. The cat isn’t considering Nigel’s allergies; the narrator is. This is correct:

Considering Nigel’s allergies, I needed to find the cat another home.

So what’s wrong with -ing words? Not knowing how and when to use them.

Now you know.

Bonus: Linking Verbs = Telling

You’ll see below that linking verbs (e.g. am, are, be, is, was, were, will) are included on the overused words list.

Again, linking verbs are fine in moderation.

A linking verb creates an equation, telling you more about a subject. This = This.

Ronald is mad.

Eliza is a gravedigger.

These sentences aren’t bad. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes summary is necessary. Showing isn’t always better than telling—you should only show that which is remarkable enough to be remarked upon. If Eliza’s a background character, and her occupation doesn’t affect the plot of your story, then I don’t want a scene of her digging up graves. Actually, I could see that being thrown in for comedic effect or foreshadowing, but that’s beside the point. Showing too much can be just as much of a problem as telling too much. Use linking verbs sparingly and intentionally.

Bonus: Expletive sentences are passive.

Grammatically, “expletives” are filler words. Expletive sentences are ones that start with “it” or “there” and a linking verb. In expletive sentences, the “it” and “there” are abstract and veil the true subject. The second sentence here is not an expletive: “The tiger’s ears twitched. It was listening.” We know what “it” is—it’s the tiger.

This is an expletive:

It was scary to think about his mother dying.

Compare that with this:

His mother dying was scary to think about.

Both use linking verbs to tell us something. The latter is stronger because it has a concrete subject. You can get rid of the linking verb entirely if you’re willing to change subjects:

Thinking about his mother dying scared him.
(telling)

Whenever Yuri thought about his mother, his eye twitched involuntarily.
(showing)

Janet reached for Yuri’s hand. “That was Mercy Hospital. Your mother is ill.”
Yuri tensed. How did she get this number?
“I have some P.T.O. saved up. We could—”
“Save it for the funeral.” Yuri pulled his cuffs down to his wrist. “Let’s go catch a movie.”
(showing through internal dialogue and subtext. The reader has to interpret this scene. Is Yuri scared here? Maybe not. Maybe apprehensive, nervous… the reader will provide a complex emotion based on their own experiences.)

Expletive sentences are fine in moderation. We use them all the time in natural conversation. You’ll find plenty reading my blog. You’ll find them in literary and commercial fiction.

But do be aware of what they are and how to revise them. Ask “What was/is?” at the end of each expletive to find a clearer subject. Consider how you can show rather than tell. Remember, showing in fiction isn’t just visual, it’s experiential. How can you show by movement, touch, taste, smell, texture, sound, temperature, body language, weather, or appearance?

Note that expletives might use the following instead of a “to be” verb:

  • does
  • did
  • feel
  • seem

For example: “There seems to have been a misunderstanding.” or “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand.”

The point of an expletive is that “it” or “there” is hiding, rather than referring to, the subject of the sentence.


 Commonly Overused Words

These are words I see repeated in manuscripts pretty frequently, combined with Lana’s Watch Word list. Check out her guest post to see how she uses her list to revise her own works.

You are free to use and share this list for educational, non-profit purposes! You must, however, give credit and the link to this post. You may not use this list for commercial gain.

Note: look for different forms of the words below. Tense (past, present, perfect, progressive) and person (first, second, third) will affect the word endings. The most common variations are -ing, -s, and -ed suffixes.

Adverbs / Prepositions—Adverbs are FINE. But these adverbs and prepositions are frequent pet words in manuscripts. Use in moderation.

-ly, A lot, Again, Almost, At least, Back, Even, Instead, Just, Like, Of Course, Over, Really, So, Then, Toward, Very, Which

Signs of Weak Verbs—can you make the verb stronger or more specific? Do you want to?

Be, Is, Had, Has, Make, Was, Were, Would,
It does/is/was/will/would/had,
There are/do/does/is/was/were/will/would/had

Signs of Wordiness—cut if you can, or split up the sentence. 

And, As, Began/Begin, Going, Start, That, Try/Tried

Repeated Descriptions / Actions—use in moderation. Authors tend to overuse one of these and ignore other possible descriptions or actions.

Breath, Brow/Eyebrow, Eye, Gasp, Hair, Head, Laugh, Shake/Shook, Shrug, Sit/Sat down, Smile, Smirk, Sneer, Stand/Stood, Stomach, Turn

Repeated Pronouns—make sure the antecedent (the word these refer to) is clear

It, One, of Them, of Us, There, They

Filtering Language—Removing will allow the reader to experience firsthand rather than secondhand (Read more)

Feel/Felt, Glance, Hear, Know, Look, Realize, Recognize, Remember, Saw, See, Seem, Think/Thought

Overused by Characters / Narrator—Again, fine in moderation but distracting when used frequently. Watch sentence beginnings, especially

And, But, Like, OK/Okay, So, Well, [Other Characters’ Names]

Full List

-ly
A lot
Again
Almost
And
As
At least
Back
Be
Began/Begin
Breath(e)
Brow/eyebrow
. But
Even

Eye
Feel/Felt
Gasp
Glance

Going
Had
Hair
Has
Head

Hear
Instead
Is

It
It is (does/was/will/would/had)

Just
Know
Laugh
Like
Look
Of Course
Of them
OK/okay
One
Over
Really
Realize
Recognize
Remember

Saw/See
Seem
Shake/Shook
Shrug
Sit down/Sat down

Smile
Smirk
Sneer

So

Stand/Stood up
Start

Stomach
That
Then
There is (are/do/does/was/were/will be/would/had)

Think/Thought
Toward
Try/Tried
Turn
Very
Was
Well
Were

Which
Would

 

Guest Post: Watch Word List

Note from Lara—I’ve invited Lana Wood Johnson to share her list of “watch words” with my readers. These are commonly overused words she looks for while revising. If you’d like to propose a guest post, please fill out my submission form. I’m going to jump in and make a couple of comments within Lana’s article. Anything coming from me will be in italics and be bracketed, [like this].

Lana’s Watch Words

When I finished my first manuscript and started my first round of revisions, I was genuinely lost for how to proceed. I read the MS through, made the fixes I could see, then sent it off to all my well-meaning friends for a Beta round.

I assumed my Betas would cover my story structure feedback, so I plunged into Google to research how one copyedits. I went to school on the thousands of ways other people have said I should revise. I also joined Twitter around that time.

As someone who develops processes and fixes problems for a dayjob, I started noticing trends. The advice for copyedits fell into two very basic camps: words the author overuses and words editors just hate to see.

So I sat down and created what I call my Watch Word list.

watch list 1 – My Specific Words

Every author has them, the specific words that they fall back on. Turns of phrase they don’t realize they’re throwing in everywhere or a body part they’re overly fond of referencing. [I call these “pet words” or “pet phrases”]

Mine is eyes. I had one CP ask if I was obsessed.

I also found myself using the word “instead” a lot more than I needed to.

Thus, when I went through my second heavy round of revision, I had the brilliant idea of trying to put my whole MS into a word cloud.

Wordle fit all my needs. It’s cloud based. It’s free. It does a fabulous job of removing the “standard” English words like I, the, and, etc. It doesn’t store anything on their servers.

Running the MS through their Java leaves me with the words that appear more in my writing than in standard English. They’re bright, clear, and right in front of me in a way that cannot be denied.

Figure 1 – Word Cloud for my First MS NECESSITY

wc1

Figure 2 – Word Cloud for my Latest WIP CLANDESTINE MENAGERIEwc2

The first thing I notice are the names of my primary characters. They should be large—I use them a ton. But there are other words that probably don’t need to be quite that large. In my case, it’s the word ‘know’. Because, my characters just know things, I guess.

But, if you compare my two clouds, you’ll see that the different MSs have different watchwords. The first is Contemporary Fantasy, the second is High Fantasy. NECESSITY was the first book I ever finished. CLANDESTINE MENAGERIE started after I’d figured out that I overused “look” and “eyes”.

The words placed on the list for NECESSITY were: know, look, eyes, like, think, and one.

The words added from CLANDESTINE MENAGERIE were: back and head.

2 – Editor’s Peeves

I know going in that I can’t write the way every editor wants me to write; I won’t even try. But there are some words they hate that make sense:

  • Mark Twain’s quote about “very” comes to mind.
  • The memory of my 10th Grade English Teacher’s ranting about “like.”
  • Every author’s personal war against the word “that.”
  • The constant exhortations we hear to eliminate all adverbs. [everything is fine in moderation!]
  • An amazing panel at CONvergence where a group of authors taught me that the less you use “and,” the stronger your writing will be. [I’ve never heard this one—I wonder if they were referring to parataxis, one of my favorite literary devices.]

I decided to add some of their words: the ones I noticed in my own writing, the ones that resonated with me, the ones that reflected the kind of writing I wanted to do.

Some I use more than others.

Some I use less but want to watch for anyway.

How I Use the List

Ok, so, great, it’s a list. Obviously I’m not going to improve all my writing just by knowing it’s there and these are the words on it. It’s a long list—I can’t keep them all in my head. So when I do a major revision, this is my process.

First, I load the manuscript onto my Kindle which allows me to treat it exactly like a regular book. I forbid myself from editing at all as I re-read the entire story. The most I let myself do is highlight a particularly bad section. As I read, I find myself getting lost in the story, and that’s great! I end up falling back in love with my characters and my story. I learn to trust myself and my writing. But I also start seeing whatever my CPs were trying to tell me in their feedback.

When I’m done with my re-read, I do my heavy lifting revision: swap out scenes, revise dialogue, eliminate characters. It’s basically drafting all over again, which introduces new errors.

Here’s where the watch words come in. After drafting, I do what I call a Language Pass. This is where I search each word individually and revise only their sentences.

BUT!

Here’s the key of the whole Watch Words list! I ONLY revise these words in the Narrative. Dialogue is a separate. My modern high school teens get to say “really” and “just” as much as they feel like in their conversations.

I also don’t take out every single instance of these words. I evaluate each sentence. I’m looking for how many times I’ve used the same word in the same page, scene, chapter, and/or story. This list doesn’t work for find and replace. It’s meant to help me evaluate the strength of my prose.

My final step is another read-through, but this is more for grammar and language. I read the whole thing aloud. Doing this helps me evaluate the dialogue. This is where I confirm the grammar as I understand it and re-fix the sentences I totally messed up by removing one of my watch words.

In the end, the list is not a be-all, end-all. You will not read my stories and find I’ve eliminated all the words from my list. My hope is that you barely notice them. Because the entire purpose of this list, of writing, of language in general, is that the individual words become invisible and the story is what remains the focus.

The List

[Note: look for different forms of the words below. Tense (past, present, perfect, progressive) and person (first, second, third) will affect the word endings. The most common variations are -ing, -s, and -ed suffixes.]

-ly
A lot
Again
Almost
And
Back
Be/Is/Had/Has/Was/Were/Would
Began/Begin [“Begin to” and “start to” tend to be unnecessarily wordy—cut]
Eyes
Feel/Felt
Glance
Going
Head
Hear
Instead
Just [See also “even” and “so” for overused adverbs many authors miss]
Know
Like
Look
Of Course
Of them
One
Over
Really
Saw/See
Seem
Sit down/Sat down
Smile
Start
Stood up/Stand up
That
Then
Think/Thought
Toward
Try/Tried
Turn
Very
Which

[To see my (Lara’s) additions to this list, see Overused Words You Should and Shouldn’t Delete]

About Lana

Lana Wood Johnson lives in Min­nesota with her too-perfect hus­band and their two less-than-perfect Eng­lish Bull­dogs. She writes young adult fantasy novels, watches an excessive amount of Korean dramas, and consults on business processes to keep out of trouble. Find her on Twitter @muliebris

lanawoodjohnson

WATCH, or: Where to Start and End your Novel

This post explains the acronym WATCH, asks what kind of novel you’re writing, and then teaches you where/how to begin and end your novel. Short fiction writers—don’t fret. You can learn about beginning and ending your stories effectively, too.

I’ve been reading Characters and Viewpoints by Orson Scott Card and learning so much about point of view and types of novels that I’ve not read anywhere else. So of course I’m going to share what I’m learning with all of you!

One thing that really interested me was Card’s “MICE Quotient.” He says there are four types of stories. Each story has all four elements, but stories will emphasize one more than the others. MICE stands for Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event.

I hope Mr. Card will forgive me, but I think his use of “Idea” is a bit misleading, and I’d probably have to look up “milieu” again every time I saw it in the future. So I’m creating my own mnemonic device that works well in the context of my time-traveling historical fantasy.

W.A.T.CH.: Which will you focus on in your writing?

WATCH

  1. World
  2. Answer
  3. Time
  4. CHaracter

Okay, I know the H in “character” is silent. Nobody’s perfect.

World

This is Card’s “Milieu,” but “world” is far less pretentious and more memorable, in my humble opinion. You’ve probably heard of “world building” if you are familiar with Sci-Fi and fantasy, or the broader term “universe.” World concerns itself with setting, place, time, culture, customs, manners, and the like. Every novel has some degree of its own world. In some stories, though, the world-building is so central to the book, it almost becomes a character itself.

Westerns, epic fantasy, and historical fiction tend to focus on World.

Answer

This is what Card refers to as “idea,” but I think “Idea” has connotations of “theme” and not much else. An Answer story poses a question or a problem that needs to be answered or solved by the end. The question could be obvious—”Who murdered Mr. Boddy?”—or it could be figurative. If it’s figurative, the answer might very well be the theme of the story. Take The Great Gatsby, for example. While the World (1920s), Time (events), and Characters (Gatsby, Carraway, Tom, Daisy, etc.) are all important and well-developed, they are all used to illustrate the themes (money, power, time, etc.). An allegorical story like Pilgrim’s Progress has universal, and thereby flat, characters, but it can get away with it, because the story is about finding answers. What is Christian’s purpose? To get to the Celestial City.

Mysteries, capers, allegory, and some sci-fi and classical fiction focus on Answers or theme.

Examples: Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Ocean’s Eleven, Pilgrim’s Progress, The Great Gatsby

Time

Time deals with events. Cause and effect. The plot. What happens. If you’re trying to get a writing degree at a respectable university, they will tell you that Character must always trump plot. And while that’s true for literary fiction, it’s not true for all fiction. Anne Lamott, whom many of us regard as one of the finest writing instructors alive, urges writers to think about characters and their motivations, hang the plot. But in Bird by Bird, she confesses that she had to rewrite one of her novels countless times, because the plot made no sense, and her editor kept telling her it didn’t work. So she learned how to do a plot treatment, and she fixed it. Plot gets thrown under the bus by respectable writers, but it’s definitely important.

I really enjoy character-driven short fiction, but if I pick up a novel in which nothing actually happens, I’ll throw it across the room and rage about it to my poor, unsuspecting husband. Popular fiction, the kind that is nearly impossible to put down, focuses on Time and what happens in the book. Hopefully the characters will change by the end of the book, but that isn’t always the case. Katniss Everdeen isn’t the deepest character on the shelf, but she sure does a lot.

Time novels start with something amiss that needs to be fixed. They right a wrong; they “save” women from spinsterhood. Or at least they try to fix the problem. They primarily try to change what happens, though the people in the story are usually changed, too.

Because they deal with problems, the line between Time stories and Answer stories can be a blurry one. The difference is that in an Answer story, something is learned or realized, resulting in an understood truth. But in a Time story, something happens, resulting in a shift in circumstance. Answer stories have an intellectual conclusion, whereas Time stories have a physical one.

Dystopian, disaster, justice/revenge, thriller, horror, sci-fi and romance are generally Time- or event-focused.

Examples: The Hunger Games, Jurassic Park, The Count of Monte Christo, The Da Vinci Code, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Doctor Who, Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Character

A character-driven novel is one in which the most important factor isn’t what happens, when and where it happens, or the author’s intent. The important thing in a character-driven story is growth. The character should change for the better or for the worse. If the character doesn’t change, the reader grows in understanding of why that character will never change.

Contemporary literary fiction concerns itself primarily with character. American readers especially want to know who a character is and why he or she acts the way he/she does. Motivation, motivation, motivation.

General fiction, literary fiction, and the bildungsroman (that’s fancy talk for a coming-of-age story) depend primarily on character.

Examples: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Things They Carried, Huckleberry Finn

How to begin and end the story

Bilbos-Birthday-Party

World

When the world in your story is the focus, you begin by introducing the world. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Tolkien created a gigantic universe that is Middle Earth. His stories begin by showing what life is like. Then things begin to shake that world up a bit. Orson Scott Card gave the example of The Lord of the Rings. Why does the story not end when the One Ring is destroyed? Because the story isn’t just about Frodo Baggins and his Fellowship; it’s about how Middle-Earth completely changed. So the story ends not at Mount Doom, or at Aragorn’s coronation, or after the scouring of the Shire. It ends when the last of the elves leave Middle Earth. The world has changed. It’s changed for Frodo, too, so he leaves with the elves.

Grey Havens

Where are my tissues?

Answer

If you’ve read or watched many mysteries, you know they all start the same. They might have a couple of lines or minutes introducing the protagonist as a person capable of solving a mystery, but they really start when someone’s been murdered or another crime has been committed. They start with a mystery or a question. Why do you think some people call mysteries “Whodunits”? The story ends when you find out who did it.

study-in-pink

In theme stories, the story begins with theme and ends with theme. The Great Gatsby begins with advice (given in the past) about considering someone else’s history against your own, and how those histories have affected your presents:

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.'”

It ends with the message that even though we make effort to change our futures, we will always be pulled back to our past:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

You end the story once the characters or the reader has a new understanding.

In a series of Answers stories, they might end on a new question. Readers read the next book to have the new question answered. That’s usually how seasons of Castle end. And if you watch Sherlock, you really know what I mean about ending on a question!

Time

Time stories begin by showing you what’s wrong. There might be a quick introduction of characters, but then we see what sort of circumstance the characters are in, and they realize they’ve got to do something about it. Or they reject it but end up doing something anyway.

Lizzie Bennet Diaries

My mom gave me this shirt.

The Hunger Games begins with the Reaping. Pride and Prejudice begins with a woman who, according to her mother, needs a husband (preferably a rich one). Doctor Who episodes usually begin with the discovery of aliens bent on the destruction of the universe.

Time stories end when circumstances change. The woman gets married; the world is saved. Justice is had; someone is avenged. They basically end when there’s nothing else to tell—nothing else happens to change the circumstance of the world or of the protagonist. At least not until the sequel. If a time story is part of a series, one story might end when the circumstances change in order to create a new story. The Hunger Games ends after circumstances change for Katniss and Peeta. They’ve hit a new normal. But Haymitch assures them that more change is to come. Catching Fire is notorious for its cliffhanger ending.

Pride & Prejudice wedding

The story ends here when it’s one about finding romance. Achievement unlocked.

Character

Character stories begin with the character living a normal life.

500 Days of Summer Todd Hanson

Everything that happens in the story affects the character somehow, and by the end of the story, the character has grown. Character stories end with the change or growth in character. A new life for the character has begun.

(500) Days of Summer is not a love story, it’s a character story. It doesn’t end with a relationship, it ends when Tom finally gets a life. (I adore this movie.)

Chris Oatley has a great post on “How to Write Great Character Introductions” over at Paper Wings Podcast. If you’re writing a character-driven story (and even if you aren’t), be sure to read it.

—-

Take some time and think about your favorite books and movies. What kinds of stories are they? Where do they begin? How do they end?

Be sure to check out WATCH Part Two—a quiz on where you should begin and end YOUR novel.

Once I get through my notes and finish Characters and Viewpoint, I’ll be starting a new series on Point of View. Subscribe or follow me on Facebook to stay in the loop!

beginning & ending your novel: a lesson in genre