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As an early decision, write the names of your characters, and check that they are not similar unless you have a purpose to naming them similarly. Give them different mannerisms and speech patterns.

Write every day even if you have only five minutes. When writing a book or story, do not edit until you have finished.

Geese from Canada are Canada Geese, not Canadian.

The best advice I received was from author Barbara D'Amato. She said "keep writing."

Consider a name edit. Do you have two characters named Phil? Do you call a character Phyllis and later Phyl? Does a character need a name? Some are props and can be referred to with a description.  

You desert or leave your friends when you find a new love; you have dessert, like ice cream after dinner, and you see cactus in the desert, a place with a lot of sand or a place lacking in something, e.g. a grocery store desert or a vegetation desert.

Pastime, past time and pass time. My pastime is reading. I pass time at the bookstore. It's past time for me to reduce my book collection.

Keep a list of names of your characters near your work space to keep the names consistent.

Try to maintain consistency with character naming. Avoid calling the character Una in the first paragraph and Ms. Tiers in the next two.

Have you been diagnosed with writer's block? Wash your hands and write, write about an apple, or a dog eating broccoli, just write. Side effects include a cure.

Is your villain completely awful? Do they donate to charity?

If you find a really cool word, use it well and once only.   If you continue to use it, it will lose the impact.  An example is the word weaponize.  What is your favorite new word?  Leave me an email at

Phrases should not be overused to the point where the reader rolls their eyes.

Call your characters consistently by first or last name.  

Write everyday, even if you have a mere four minutes to spare.

Don't edit until you have a rough draft. You can always improve things later.  
Read your work out loud, to a kind friend or the goldfish. There are computer programs that read TO YOU.

As you develop a new story, write down the names of your characters to keep track of them.  You might even want to write out a page about them to keep things consistent.

It's never too early to think about your cover art.  Rough draft a few sketches. 

Who is your reader? The sooner you identify them the better. And then tell me how you did it.

How do you introduce your characters?  Do they all rush in on page one, or do you dribble them into your readers mind?

How do your name your characters?  Does Paul Colonel have a military posture?  Could Nancy Drew be an artist? 

Do you have characters who play no role in the plot?  Should you upgrade them or take them out?

Do you begin with the title, characters or the story? 

How do you chose your beta readers?  I started with particularly kind people.  That gave me the nerve to ask more critical ones. 

Do you read your work without a pen nearby?  Instead of working and editing, read your work without making changes until you finish reading.  This may streamline your editing.  

Don't beat your reader over the head with repeated details.  If your character is driving a volvo, you do not need to repeat it four times on the first two pages.  Really.

Is your protagonist thin, beautiful, brilliant and drives a race car?  Is her love interest tall, dark and handsome?  Do their eyes lock with smoldering passion?  Is this part of the escape of reading and writing or is this a little too perfect? 

When you find a special word, like brutal, ghastly or mundane, use it once for impact but don't repeat it sentence after sentence or it will lose the quality that attracted you in the first place.

Do you want a lot of back story about your protagonist's family?  Does a lack of it take away from the story?  

Do you have a kindle?  Try editing by sending the mss as a document to your kindle and see how it looks.

Consider how many characters you need.  Fewer characters allow for more development and make it easier for the reader to follow.  

A bad first draft is a good thing, because it can be fixed.

An author on the brink of success.Links