Dionie McNair - Snippets for Writers
Dionie McNair - Young Adult Fiction Author

Snippets for Writers

When is a final draft a final draft?
So you have drafted and drafted, edited, cut and added and spell checked. So you have your final draft. You’re happy with your work and just summoning up the courage to cast your ‘baby’ to the wolves of the publishing world.
Stop right there.
I have discovered no matter how many times you read the manuscript you have always missed something.  Don’t send you ‘baby’ out there with its shoelaces undone.
My advice put it away for a week. Then look at it again. Read it aloud, again. You might be surprised how many bits you change, typos you missed or when you used a passive voice. Read it out loud, feel the pacing, rhythm and nuances. I know you will be thoroughly sick of it by now. You might never want to see it again, but do that last review anyway.
Have you checked for?
1.       Repeated words
a.       How many times have you used ‘was’
b.      Or your favorite words—mine are smiled, shrugged and turned.
c.       Use the ‘find’ tool to check it out. Some versions of word will give you the number of times you have used the same word.
2.       Have you checked for ‘independently moving body parts? Like ‘his hand covered hers’ instead of ‘he covered her hand with his’
3.       Have you checked for adverbs – slowly – use ambled or quietly instead try tiptoed. Make sure you are expressing the nuances you mean to.
4.       How are your paragraphs – too short – too long
5.       What about your chapters – have you broken at the right place.
6.       How about ‘began’ – your characters should just do things – ‘he began to walk across the room’ use instead ‘he walked across the room’.
7.       ‘Feel’ – ‘when he kissed her she felt her breasts tingle’ try instead ‘When he kissed her, her breasts tingled’.
8.       ‘and then’ – editors usually prefer either ‘and or ‘then’
9.       Have you followed the submission guidelines to the letter
10.   Have you tidied up loose ends – are all your characters and material items accounted for? Like she had that sword in chapter 10, but where is it now in chapter 13 or at the end.
11.   Punctuation, grammar, spelling – read up on the rules if it is not your forte.
12.   Have you checked for passive writing
13.   Have you checked for ‘show not tell’?
14.   Watch for POV-  do not head hop
15.   Watch for redundant words – ‘she waved her hand at them’  should just be ‘she waved at them’
16.   Check the scene choreography – make sure that fight or love scene is physically possible.
17.   What out for slang or dialects
18.   Do the bits that should make the reader cry or laugh make you cry or laugh.
19.   And before you press ‘send’ make sure you have attached the files.
I am sure I could add to this list, but as long as you have done your very best, get it out there. No manuscript will get acquired by lying in the bottom of the drawer or in an archived file.
See how my manuscripts, my ‘babies’ are now published novels.
The Abrasaxon’s Daughter Book 1 The Scorpion’s Heart
Finding the Upside of Down

My Journey to Publication

The journey to become a published writer can be a long and difficult.
In the beginning, as fledgling writers, we look at our first manuscript and think we have a best seller on our hands.  It is a rude awakening when it is rejected without reason or explanation by the publisher we sent it to with great anticipation. 
So we begin our education as we are forced to either give up or to look critically at our work - we have to criticise our 'baby'. It hurts. It tears us apart, but must be done if our 'baby' is ever to reach the great heights we have in mind for it. 
We seek advice from the more experienced, those with thick skins and a drawer or two full of rejection letters, just like ours. We work on our writing skills and polish them up with workshops from those experts willing to share.
We try again. Not ruthless enough, even yet. Rejection comes calling once more. We develop a callous where the worst of the hurt lies - in our heart, soul and pride.
We learn some more. We hone, we polish, we re-write and re-write. Now we are ruthless. Now we are looking at our precious words and know they are not indispensable, even that 
favourite paragraph that describes the landscape to a t or tells the reader allabout the protagonist's history, her mother's and her grandmother's and is full of cliches.
Now we are truly ruthless. Gone are the repetitions, the long descriptive paragraphs and the information dumps. All that is left is well polished prose telling a story of worth that the reader can enjoy. Finally the writer is talking to the reader through their words - conveying the story, the emotions and the meaning through lively, well crafted characters that jump off the page and become real as the story unfolds. Now you know you are a writer, and so does the publisher you send that precious manuscript to for consideration. 
Time for the next step in the journey. There is more to learn, more to achieve and all the time there are readers out there just waiting for you, the writer, to share your story so they can enjoy.

On May 31st 2013 I took an enormous step forward on my journey as a writer. Silver Stream Press accepted my manuscript entitled The Scorpions Heart. 

This manuscript was a long time in the making - 18 years in fact. It has come from a raw, enthusiastic, unpolished collection of words to a concise, energetic, colourful fantasy story that will draw you away into a magical world all its own. If I enchant you, the reader, I will have fulfilled my dream of speaking to you, personally. You the reader, I welcome you into my magic world of storytelling.

More Books...no writers block haunts me

With a release date now set the excitement builds - so you can all share my story and find entertainment and stimulation from within the pages.
With two books now in the process of publication it is time to begin another journey. A new book, a new story.
And where do the ideas come from for these books. I am often asked by friends and strangers alike how I come up with the ideas for the stories I love to write so much.
It is a difficult question to answer in some way but it isn't in others. 
I suppose the most important source of ideas is life itself. 
As we live and grow we experience many things in life. Some are full of joy - like the birth of a child, falling in love, or picking up a puppy or kitten to become your life long companion. There are too many to list here, but you will know what gave you joy in life.
Others a life's painful lessons - the death of a loved one, a break up, a child's sickness, bullying, victim of crime or depression and suicide. 
We learn from them all - we come to develop empathy for others through our own experiences. 
A writer has a gift - the ability to share that which they have learned through personal experience. Yes research if required for the mechanics of the plot, location and the correctness of incidents, but the richness of emotion comes from within. 

 As a writer if you can catch peoples interest, touch their soul, soften a prejudice or even just get them thinking and debating issues in society you have achieved much. It is a privilege to be taken seriously when planning a new book. What do I want to say.

More books...but what about sales

So you have written your book and it is getting published - you have communicated with your audience, telling a wonderful story to entertain, relax, puzzle or advise. But .... your audience doesn't know it yet.
Now you have to communicate to your potential audience that you have written this wonderful story...that you want to communicate it to them.
Word of Mouth is considered one of the prime ways to get your message out there and positive referrals. But what is word of mouth in 2013. What is word of mouth to my potential audience - not face to face conversation but conversations comprising Facebook status updates, sms, websites, twitter. 
So I must learn to speak the language of my audience and the methods of conversing.
So I take a fork in the road and begin to communicate in the way my audience understand. Website - tick, Twitter - tick, Facebook - tick. But I wonder still if I am reaching my audience. Only time will tell.

More Promotion...

 To be a writer and be content to plan, develop, research, write, edit and polish your work is wonderful. You can beaver away alone in your office, spend time day dreaming and plotting in your mind and finally have some contact with an editor - usually via e-mail.
But comes the day when you book is accepted. 
You have set up your website, your blog, your twitter and Facebook accounts to communicate your book's presence in the world and to essentially communicate its joys with your readers.
But wait there is more... your book, your precious creation, needs to be launched, it needs to be marketed and it needs to be talked about.
Do you have the skills as a dedicated writer to market you book, to launch it and to talk about it. 
To achieve this you need marketing skills and public speaking skills and event management skills.
Let's start with the Launch: Event management - venue, decorations, catering, invites, people management and the biggy for most people making a speech.
Public speaking - many people would rather die than get up in front of a crowd and make a speech. Well embrace it fellow writers, for this is a must. 
Marketing - Not just for the launch but marketing you book - radio interviews, meet the author nights and writers festivals. 
So if you do not have these skills I would suggest you develop them - become competent at least before your book is launched on the world. Because with its launch comes your launch as an author and you want to make the best first, middle and every time impression on you readers.
Desktop Toolbox

No matter how you write or why you write you can always use some help.
My desktop tool box includes a number of items.
A dictionary: they come in all shapes and sizes and they get regular updates because the English language, the pivot of our work is constantly evolving. Often foreign languages influences our language as we take on new foods, sights and sounds from our global village. Or there is new technology. I mean when I was a kid of tender years I had never heard of giga bytes and a mouse was a furry rodent that my cats chased. And more recently of course we have the words, nom and amazeballs - invented by our gen y and x and beyond. The thing I find is a dictionary is often useless for helping with spelling - if you can't spell the word how can you find it in a book with words listed by spelling but it is useful for giving a meaning to a word.
A Thesaurus: these also come in all shapes and sizes and get updated regularly for the same reason as a dictionary. I personally like the Roget's the seventh edition. I find it easy to use to find the exact word I need. the only problem I have struck is when I have used colloquial Australian. For me sometimes there is just one word that is right and it just happens to be a fair dinkum Aussie word. 
The third book I keep handy is a baby name book with the zodiac characteristics listed. This book helps me do a number of things.
The first and most obvious is naming my characters 
The second is to use a star sign and help me decide on their personality - very important for their development within the story.
The third and most unusual is to help me develop names for my creatures in my fantasy words. Some of the baby names are interesting to speak and spell and have meanings. I like to find a word that appeals when I say it out loud, then alter it slightly to make an appropriate sounding name for an unknown creature. 
I also have a book on Aussie slang - seeing I am an Aussie
Another book that is not far away is the 'Book of Beginnings' - helps with cliches, meanings of certain sayings and the source of habits, old wives tales, rumors and historical facts. It is also a very interesting reads for the inquiring mind.
these book are wonderful, but of course one does not forget Mr Google or the good old fashioned practice of asking someone who knows the answer to your question.

Cliches, interpretation and colloquial language (Aussie Slang)
Cliches are deeply frowned upon by writers, readers and editors alike. What is a cliche? A cliche is a trite, stereotyped expression, idea, practice. Example: a stitch in time, raining cats and dogs, trials and tribulations. We all know them and use them. They are familiar and to some extent comforting. But not in your novel.
Colloquial language is defined as: appropriate to or characteristic of conversational speech or writing in which the speaker or writer is under no particular constraint to choose standard, formal, conservative, deferential, polite of grammatically correct unchallengeable words, but feels free to choose words  as appropriate from the informal, slang, vulgar or taboo elements from the lexicon. 
To put it simply the speaker or the writer uses whatever words seem right at the time to flavour their communication. These are fine in your novel, but remember if you are writing for an international audience they may not know what gluggy, bouffy/boofy or ratbag means.
Which brings in the issue of interpretation. You don't want your readers reading experience jarred by an unfamiliar word so do you not use it or do you supply a glossary or leave it there and hope it makes sense. For me as a writer it would be best to minimize the slang, but then sometimes there is only one word to use, the only one that feels right on the tongue of the writer. Just like gluggy, boofy and ratbag.

There are plenty of others sidewalk vs footpath, fawcett vs tap and I could go on...

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