novels

Said is NOT dead

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I hear people on the Internet, especially on YouTube, say that their English teachers had told them that “Said is dead”, meaning, don’t use the word “said” when writing a novel or short story. I don’t remember my teachers saying that specifically, but they did insist that we use more “interesting” words to describe speech. I’d never really thought too much of it until recently.

A few AuthorTubers were talking about this and saying that it’s okay to use said. In fact, they’re saying that if you do use it, it kind of floats to the background and your readers don’t really notice it. It’s almost invisible, which is a good thing. I thought that what they’re saying made sense, but it wasn’t until I picked up a book written by someone who had used anything but “said” that I realised exactly how much it changes your writing.

I found myself noticing every word they used. Replied, reciprocated, insisted, intoned, argued, countered, retorted, interjected… the list goes on. The first things I noticed was that it didn’t feel natural and it didn’t fit with the style of the writing. The next thing I noticed was that it started to really annoy me. “Said” would have been better than most of the words used.

Sure, there may be instances where you need to make sure your readers know how something was said, and that’s fine. Use another word. But “said” and “asked” are quite adequate for most things.

Although, if you write, “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”, you don’t need to write ‘Sarah yelled’ afterwards.

Another thing you can do so that your writing isn’t full of he said, she said: Try to use an action rather than just telling the reader that someone spoke.

For example, instead of this:

“Are you coming to the mall with me?” asked Mary.

“Um, I don’t know,” said Jill.

“We could go to that shoe shop where the cute guy works and then we could get a smoothie,” said Mary.

“Okay, I’ll get my purse!” exclaimed Jill.

Use this:

Mary strode into the living room. “Are you coming to the mall with me?”

Jill cringed. She didn’t want to go, but didn’t want to upset Mary. “Um, I don’t know.”

“We could go to that shoe shop where the cute guy works,” Mary insisted as she twirled a lock of her hair around her finger, “and then we could get a smoothie.”

A devilish smile spread across Jill’s lips. “Okay, I’ll get my purse!”

Which example sounds more interesting?

On a side note, when writers say “Said Mary” instead of “Mary said”, it rubs me the wrong way. To my mind, the books I read in primary school when I was learning to read would use “Said Mary”, so it makes the writing sound childish. And it seems to sound worse when written in the present tense. Or maybe that’s just me.

Is it just me? Or does this bother you too? Let me know in the comments below. Or tell me if you think “said” is dead.

 

Please check out some of the helpful tutorials for authors here at TechSavvyAuthor.net.

No warmups – just write!

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There is a lot of advice out there about preparing to sit down and write your book. Some people tell you to free write or journal beforehand. They say to just write about anything that comes to mind. I’ve sort of tried this and it’s okay. But I guess I didn’t love it, or I’d still be doing it and this blog post would be totally different.

This advice is usually meant for someone suffering from Writers’ Block. To help them get unstuck and back into the swing of things. To get their mind muscle back into writing again. And this may work for you. But I don’t think we need to free write every time we sit down to write.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this advice. It’s just that it doesn’t always apply. Or it doesn’t always work for us as writers. I think maybe we have to look at other factors, like the time we have available to write. I have plenty of time, but a lot of people don’t. You might only have an hour or less per day. Or an hour a week. However much time you have, it is precious. If you spend that time writing about something totally unrelated to your story, then you won’t get your story written.

As I’ve said in a previous post about writing faster, a good idea is to plan ahead and know exactly what you’re going to write about in your allotted time. Then sit down in the chair and just do it. Planning ahead really helps to eliminate Writers’ Block, because you know what you’re going to be writing about. It’s in your head already. You might have been thinking about the scene you want to write on your way home from work, and now that you’ve set aside time to write, it all just pours out onto the keyboard.

If you do find you need to write something to help with Writers’ Block or there’s something you’re stuck on, try writing about something related to your story. Those words won’t be wasted. You could write a totally unrelated scene, a scene depicting something that happened in one of your characters’ lives in their childhood, an “interview” with the main character or the antagonist, or anything you can think of. And don’t forget, you don’t have to write your scenes in chronological order either. You might be having trouble writing a scene because you keep on thinking about this other scene that is more exciting because it’s a fight scene or something. Go ahead. Write it. Just do it!

You’re the author. You’re the boss.

As we write, we establish our own routine and we learn how we like to do things and what works for us. What works for you? Do you like journaling or free writing? Add your comments below and we can start a discussion.

I hope this has been helpful to you.

 

Please check out some of the helpful tutorials for authors here at TechSavvyAuthor.net.

How to write your book faster

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There is lots of advice out there on how to write faster and be more productive. They tell us to be more organised before we sit down to write. Plan ahead. If you only have an hour a day, or even less, make sure that you know ahead of time what you need to write, so that you don’t waste time thinking about what to write and maybe not even get any writing done. This is great advice and I’ll be following it closely when I start writing my first draft of my next novel.

But…

There is another way that you can all write faster, and that is, to actually WRITE FASTER! It’s kinda simple really. If you learn how to touch type, you can really get more words down in your novel in the time that your bum is in the chair and you are typing.

You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, I can type,” but how many fingers are you using and do you have to look at the keys? Most people use two or three or four fingers and if they use social media a lot, they’re probably pretty fast, but…

Your accuracy will improve immensely if you can look at the screen and see your mistakes as you type them. If you learn how to type properly – using nine fingers, you will be too slow at first, but your speed will pick up and soon you’ll be typing faster than you did with two fingers. Faster than you can type on your phone with two thumbs. And more accurate.

I can type 70 words per minute while I’m writing my novels. I used to use a program that measures your speed while you write your book. I start off slower, but once I’m into the swing of things, I’m doing 70.

There are plenty of typing programs out there, and there are plenty of free ones. Give it a try. I’ll warn you now, the exercises will get tedious and even boring doing it, so do it in small doses. Maybe ten minutes a day. It will be worth it. It is an investment in your business as a writer. And once you’ve learnt this new skill, you will use it for the rest of your life. It isn’t boring or tedious once you are using it to write your books. Believe me. I pick up my phone and get frustrated at how slow I have to type. Sometimes, I just wait till I get home before answering Facebook messages or emails.

Here are some free typing programs I found on the Web (OMG! I sound like Siri!):

Typing Club – https://www.typingclub.com/

Typing.com – https://www.typing.com/

The Typing Cat – http://thetypingcat.com/

Learn Typing.org – http://www.learntyping.org/

Speed Typing Online – https://www.speedtypingonline.com/home

You can always ask Mr Google if you don’t like any of these.

I hope this has been helpful to you. I would love to know what you think in the comments below.

 

Please check out some of the helpful tutorials for authors here at TechSavvyAuthor.net.

Another free promotion of Tamisan

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Tamisan is free on the 22nd July on Amazon! Grab it now!

Why Amazon is driving me crazy right now

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It started with the Kindle app on my phone. I used to be able to download and read a sample of a book, and if I liked it, I could click a link at the end of the sample and buy the full book. Not anymore. Now I have to go out of Kindle, open up Safari, go to www.amazon.com.au and search for the book, then click to buy it. It is really frustrating and I can’t understand why they changed it. Were people complaining and saying they didn’t know they were buying the book when they clicked the link? Because that’s ridiculous. It tells you that you are buying it. You have to actually click on “Buy now with one click”.

Amazon, if you’re reading this, please change it back!

The other, more recent thing, is at the US site, when I click on a link on my computer to view the book’s sales page, the browser scrolls down to the reviews or the author bio or somewhere in between. I know that the reviews for a book are important, but this is beyond annoying. I click the link so I can get a better look at the book’s cover and read the product description. I’ll scroll down to the reviews when I’m good and ready. Actually, I rarely look at the reviews. I decide whether I am going to read it by all the other details. Just because someone else likes or dislikes the book, doesn’t mean I will too. And then there’s the fact that some reviews contains spoilers…

Strangely enough, if I go to the Australian Amazon site, it doesn’t do it (thankfully).

Amazon, if you’re reading this, please change it back!

I’d be interested to know if any of you find these things annoying too.

 

Please check out some of the helpful tutorials for authors here at TechSavvyAuthor.net.

Excerpt of NEW Chapter 1 of Tamisan

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Chapter 1

I felt a strange apprehension when I stepped out of the shuttle into the sunlight and it sent a shiver down my spine, but the feeling quickly subsided as I looked around me. This place was magnificent! It was a tropical jungle paradise. Tall trees surrounded us on all sides. The only break in the canopy big enough to let in the sunlight properly was the clearing where our small shuttle, the Outrider, had landed for emergency repairs.

It was so wild and free and different to the world I knew. I’d grown up on Earth, which was so ordered and sterile and ‘civilised’.

Craning my neck, I turned in a circle. All around us were huge tree trunks with vines that intertwined around them and through the branches of smaller trees and shrubs, slowly choking them to death while reaching ever upward to the sun. There were ferns that spread their fronds several metres in all directions and fungi in various shades of orange, red and yellow. The scents and smells of a hundred flowers, plants and animals were concentrated in the thick, humid air.

The other five passengers around me were awed by Althar 3’s beauty too, and they stood open-mouthed in the clearing. I stifled a laugh. We looked ridiculous.

We’d travelled across the universe to start work with the Voyager Division to study and observe the natives on this super-primitive planet, but the shuttle taking us from the main ship to the surface had developed engine trouble, forcing us to land in the middle of the dense jungle.

We were headed to Station Jannali, a hidden underground base somewhere in this jungle, and now we were getting an up-close-and-personal look at the local scenery.

The shuttle pilot had already started working on the engine.

As soon as Station Jannali had heard that we had to land, they’d located a suitable spot and given us orders to collect some plant and soil samples so we could make ourselves useful. They gave us a list of the kinds of plants that they wanted, so we took some sampling equipment and a PocketPC that contained the pictures they’d sent of what was required. We spread out, wandering amongst the vines and blooms at the edge of the clearing.

I didn’t start work straight away. My mind was trying to process everything I was seeing. It was so surreal. We’d been briefed on the flora and fauna on Althar and what to expect, including the kind of wildlife that lurked in the jungle, and it was actually full of very large and very dangerous creatures that basically belonged in the Jurassic or Cretaceous Period of Earth’s distant past.

Another shiver travelled the length of my spine at the thought. What if one of those dinosaur look-alikes was nearby right now? Why did Jannali give permission for us to wander around out here without any training or weapons for protection? What kind of company had I signed up with?

I started to think that maybe I’d made a huge mistake. I was a new graduate from the Academy. I was qualified to deal with computer-related problems. I had so many options open to me, but I chose to go to the edge of the Known Universe. I must be crazy.

What was I doing here? Why did I apply for a job way out here? Was my life at the Academy that boring that I jumped at the first opportunity to go off-planet?

My mind answered immediately. Yes.

That realisation had my mind reeling. I’d been prepared to leave everything and everyone I’d ever known. That was kind of scary.

Part of our work would involve studying the family units, which would be weird – also very intriguing – for some members of our group because we didn’t have families. We were cloned and raised in groups according to age and gender.

I’d learned about the family units that existed in some of the older cultures on Earth and other planets. There were some people on Earth who were against cloning.

A sound like something flapping around in the breeze, followed by an ear-splitting screech, pulled me from my thoughts and I turned to see a large leather-winged reptile flapping its wings madly as it made its way across the clearing, bringing screams from the other female crew members, Larissa and Bazeelia. Even Janssen and Lanu gave a shout as the creature flew past.

Bazeelia was a tall Ziflarian with long, black curly hair that she kept tied up in a high ponytail. She scowled at Janssen and Lanu for laughing at her. “Don’t be laughin’ at me. That thing was a monster! And it scared you too!”

Janssen turned to her, his long white-blonde hair almost blindingly bright in the sunshine. “Hey. Take it easy. We’re just messin’ with ya.”

Lanu got up awkwardly from the spot where he was kneeling in the dirt and stalked over to them. “You’ve got to admit it was amazing though.”

Bazeelia stared at him open-mouthed. “Amazing? No. It wasn’t. It was terrifying!”

Lanu just smiled, a look of awe on his face. “But that thing is so similar to the Pteranodon from Earth’s past and it flew within a few metres of us. It’s like going back to the Cretaceous Period and getting a first-hand look.”

“Well, you can go look at it and admire its beauty if you want. Pat it. Study it. Although I’m not sure being a Sociologist will help when it comes to dinosaurs. Me? I’m glad I’ll be working indoors once we get to Jannali.” She flipped her long hair over her shoulder and went back to work.

“Miss Rhodarma?” I jumped. Once I realised who had called me, I cringed inwardly. Kami Olion, the other Sociologist in the group, was standing at the hatch of the shuttle. He was nothing like Lanu. He was a prickly, annoying person. “I heard screams. What has happened?”

He had refused to leave the shuttle. He’d said that the engine trouble was a bad omen. I’d ignored him. I didn’t believe in superstitions and had jumped at the chance to see the jungle first-hand.

And what was with the ‘Miss Rhodarma’? Did he have to be so formal?

“Please call me Zhenna,” I said.

He inclined his head. “Very well.”

I gave him a small smile, feeling awkward. “Everything’s okay. It was just a flying reptile. It flew through the clearing and gave us a fright.”

He shook his head. “Going outside was a bad idea. I said it was a bad idea. But would anyone listen? No, they didn’t. Will you come inside, please, where it’s safe? The others won’t listen. And I have a bad feeling.” He drew out the word “bad”, like that would make me believe him.

I frowned. Why was he only asking me? “Umm, I can’t. Jannali wants the samples. It’s going to give a bad impression if we refuse.”

His eyebrows drew together and his mouth turned down at the corners. He turned on his heel and went back inside.

I sighed, relieved that he was gone. He’d been a pain in everyone’s butt on the journey out here. He must have been really good at his job because I was sure he didn’t get hired for his personality.

“Don’t worry about him,” Larissa said as she walked up to me, her long white-blonde hair almost blinding in the sunlight. “He’s just a superstitious old grump.”

I laughed, then cringed. I hoped he couldn’t hear her.

She noticed my reaction. “I don’t care if he hears me.”

I giggled.

We’d met on the trip out here to The Fringe, as some called it, and became friends right away. It had taken us two weeks at Warp Delta and there wasn’t a lot to do aboard the Acronis. We both had an interest in art and liked similar types of music and had spent a lot of time together.

I turned my attention away from the spot where Kami had stood. I needed to actually do the job I was sent out here to do. We headed a bit further into the jungle. I was looking for an orange flower and Larissa was after a type of fungi, which should’ve been easier for her since she was a Botanist.

As we searched, I saw Larissa stealing glances at Janssen. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen her watching him. I was sure she had a crush. She’d shown an interest during the trip out here, but she always insisted that she didn’t like him all that much. I smiled.

The next time she looked at me I said, “I saw you looking at him.”

“No, I wasn’t.”

I just cocked an eyebrow at her.

“Okay. I was.”

I watched him ducking under a low-hanging vine and watched his long white-blonde hair fall over his shoulder. “You like him.”

Her cheeks turned pink. “I… Uh… maybe. I don’t know.”

“Well, you’ll have plenty of time to find out since you’ll be working together.” Janssen had also majored in Botany.

Her eyes never left him as he bent down to look at a lavender flower. “Is he unattached, do you know?”

“It has taken you two weeks to even ask that?” I asked. Her cheeks flushed even more. “I heard him telling Mosuti that he doesn’t have a girl. Or boy,” I added.

She looked relieved. I chuckled, thinking they’d make a great couple. They had a shared interest in botany and they even came from the same planet: Shakira.

Mosuti, our telepathic crew member, wandered over to where we were. “Hey, girls.”

“Hey,” we both said together.

“Found your specimens yet?”

We both said “no” at the same time and laughed.

From the corner of my eye, I saw movement. It was Kami again, just staring at us with a furrowed brow and his mouth set in a thin line.

“Mosuti. Kami doesn’t like you, does he?” I whispered.

“I’m afraid not, Zhenna. Says he doesn’t like my ‘kind’.”

I narrowed my eyes as I kept watching Kami. “Don’t let it worry you. He’s a douchebag.”

“He doesn’t worry me.”

Kami called me again. “Zhenna, dear, why are you talking to him?”

“Uh, because he’s my friend.”

“His kind can’t be trusted. He’s probably reading our minds right now.”

Mosuti stood up straighter. “I would never do that. It is against the Talents’ Code of Conduct to read a being’s mind without consent.”

The Code had been created years ago to protect people’s privacy and to protect Talents all over the Known Universe.

Larissa took a step forward. “You’re a jerk! What would you know about Talents? You’re so narrow-minded!”

He waved his hand in the air dismissively. “They are nothing but freaks. Mutated beings that taint our genetics.”

I clenched my fists, trying to keep my temper in check. “What do you suggest we do with these ‘mutants’?” I asked him.

“We need to keep them under control. They shouldn’t be allowed to wander free where they can manipulate our minds and wreak havoc across the universe.”

“So, we should enslave them?”

“I… wouldn’t use that exact term… but what else can we do? They’re freaks of nature and they are a danger to us all.”

My fingernails were digging in to my palms and my face felt like it was on fire. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!

I heard Mosuti’s voice in my mind. <It’s okay. I can defend myself. Don’t let him get to you. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary worry.>

It always gave me a thrill to hear his voice in my head. We’d messed around with it a couple of times on the trip out here. All I had to do was think my answer and Mosuti could read it. And, of course, he had my permission.

      I know, I replied. But he’s just such an ignoramus!

I turned back to Kami. “I’m glad I won’t be working with you when we get to Jannali. You’re such an arrogant, narrow-minded, backwards hick!”

Before he could answer, there was a loud zapping noise like an electrical current arcing. I looked around. “What was that?”

Instead of answering, Mosuti grabbed Larissa and I by the arm and practically threw us to the ground. “Stay down!” he ordered.

I heard more zapping sounds and people screaming. I looked at Mosuti’s rugged face and wide eyes from my position in the leaf litter and he whispered, “Laser fire.”

I froze and could feel the warmth drain from my face. Laser fire? In the middle of a prehistoric jungle? How? … Who?

I heard another scream and looked up to see Bazeelia fall screaming to the ground with her hair on fire. I quickly put my head back down on the soft earth, trying to somehow block out the sound. There was nothing I could do to help her. We were all unarmed.

From where I lay on the ground, I heard more laser fire as it struck targets all around us. I was too afraid to move and it took all my willpower to keep from screaming. I knew that no race native to this planet possessed laser weapons, so my brain tried to figure out who could be attacking us.

The only answer I could think of was that the attackers were the Varekai. They were basically space pirates and had a reputation for being totally brutal. My heart constricted in my chest. Were we all about to die?

Our shuttle must have been followed somehow. But why would they bother? It’s not like we had anything valuable on the ship.

In the chaos, I noticed that the soil and leaves around me seemed to be moving. There were ants and a half a dozen other crawling insects moving about on the forest floor, some of which were starting to crawl up over my hands and arms. Again I had to resist the urge to cry out. I had to let them crawl. If I made any sudden move, the lasers might target me.

I could see the fear churning in Mosuti’s eyes as we lay on the ground side-by-side. Larissa was on my other side, but I couldn’t turn to see if she was okay. There was a weird beetle crawling on Mosuti’s arm, but he didn’t move.

The laser fire and the screaming stopped, and I froze where I lay. I heard footsteps all around me. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to look, but I knew they were there, looking down at me. The left side of my face lay in the soft earth and I hoped that the position I was in made it appear as though I’d fallen that way and was either unconscious or dead. If they thought I was dead, they might leave me and return to their ship.

I knew that I wouldn’t be so lucky.

I could feel their presence, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Fear was creeping up my spine, eating into my flesh.

I tried to keep my breathing as shallow as possible, hoping they wouldn’t see my ribs expand and contract. They were right behind me. I imagined their piercing eyes, staring down from above. My lungs desperately needed more air, but I didn’t dare suck in enough to satisfy their hunger.

Someone said, “These ones are good…”

Something was crawling on my neck. Another ‘something’ was climbing along the length of my right leg. But I had to stay there. Had to let them crawl.

“Don’t damage them,” said another. What were they talking about?

I couldn’t just lie there. I desperately wanted to turn around and face my foes, to see who they were, but I couldn’t do it. Something was starting to bite my leg, but before I could give myself away by swatting at it, I felt burning pain surge through my whole body. Every muscle convulsed and the darkness closed in quickly around me.

***

I would love to know what you think in the comments below.

 

Please check out some of the helpful tutorials for authors here at TechSavvyAuthor.net.

Tamisan FREE on Amazon for three days!

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Hey everyone! I’ve just organised a free promotion on Amazon for Tamisan from the 15th July 2017 to 17th July 2017. I’d love it if you took advantage of this and grabbed a copy. If Science Fiction Paranormal Romance isn’t your cup of tea, maybe you could tell someone you know about it.

I’d also love it if you could leave a review up on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just let me know what you thought of the book. Us authors need all the feedback we can get so that we can improve our writing and give readers the best story we can create.

Thanks in advance! I love writing. I live for creating characters and worlds. I want to keep writing till I’m too old to type, and even then, there’s this program called Dragon Naturally Speaking…

 

Please check out some of the helpful tutorials for authors here at TechSavvyAuthor.net.