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Writing for Life


Chasing Down Facts: Tips for Novelists about Police Procedure

police officer

Today’s post is part of a series on professionals sharing tips and expertise in order to help novelists convey accuracy in their fiction. If you are writing any scenes that include doctors, lawyers, investigators, or law enforcement officials, be sure to study these posts (and print them out for reference).

The following guest post is from novelist and former police officer Janice Cantore:

“Write what you know,” a phrase every writer has heard. Some think it’s hooey and some think it’s gospel. When I first began writing, I thought that it was gospel. I wanted to write suspense novels, and I’d lived through a lot of action. I’d been in car chases, foot pursuits, arrested murderers, stopped rapes—I even dodged bottles and spit during the Rodney King riots, so surely I could write an exciting, compelling book. Sadly, all of my early manuscripts were rejected. The common complaint: they read too much like a police report. Continue Reading…

The Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing


Don’t Get Sent to the Department of Redundancy


Today editor Robin Patchen tackles Fatal Flaw #3: Weak Construction. We’ve been examining this flaw all month, looking at the various ways writers stumble into the mire of weak construction through poor word choice and flawed sentence structure, as well as vagueness and bland or clunky dialog. Be sure to read through all these posts to learn how to catch this fatal flaw in your fiction writing!

“We get it.” I type those words often in my clients’ manuscripts. And when I see a lot of redundancy in their books, I’ve been known to simply type “DRD” in the comment box. Department of Redundancy Department—a great Monty Python line.

So many writers fall into this trap. They think of a few different ways to say the same thing, and they really like every one of their choices. They must, because they leave them all in. The quickest way to slow down your manuscript is to be redundant. It’s . . . how shall I say this? Boring. Continue Reading…

Grammar, Punctuation & Confusables


Do Yourself a Favor and Learn about Reflexive Pronouns

Say What new

I sometimes see writers misuse reflexive pronouns—pronouns that have the suffix self (or selves) tagged on. For example, note these incorrect sentences:

  • My wife and myself thank you for the gift.
  • Deliver the cake to my partner or myself.
  • You should include ourselves in the vacation.

Take a moment to learn what reflexive and intensive personal pronouns are. A reflexive pronoun renames the subject as an object: “She gave herself a birthday present.” Continue Reading…

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