5 Tips to Hone Your Craft

This month we’re sharing our ideas on how to become better writers. In this post, I’m sharing what’s helped me to hone my craft. Let’s get started.

Writing

Practice makes perfect. Just like musicians learn a piece of music by practicing every day, a writer learns by writing. The more you write the more writing becomes second nature. If you’re not writing every day, you’re missing out on opportunities to hone your craft.

Joining a Critique Group

I can’t say enough about this tip. Nothing can teach you more than critiquing another’s work. When I’m reading a manuscript—or a book—I listen to the cadence of words in a sentence. I notice what works and what doesn’t. If you’re not in a critique group, make it a priority to join one today!

Blogging

Whether you post every day or once a week, blogging connects you with an amazing group of people who will teach you even more about the craft. You will learn the art of networking as you follow and meet new people. Blogging also adds accountability to your writing schedule. And who knows, you just might meet that fantastic critique partner!

Conferences/Online Classes/Websites

The last weekend in September, I attended the ACFW At-Home conference. The classes included downloadable lessons, PDFs, and PowerPoint® presentation along with a Facebook Group where the attendees could meet and ask questions. It was fun and informative.

Another way to hone your craft is online classes. I’ve taken several classes on writing and self-care this year and enjoyed each one. I like the convenience and the affordability of online classes. Some were free while others required a small fee.

Finally, websites are a great way to hone your craft. Find one you like—like this blog—and follow. A search for writing on your favorite social media app will list several sites to follow. I’m sure you will find one you like. Here’s a link to get you started.

Books

Need advice on editing your story? How about publishing? You can find a how-to book on most subjects in your local library or your favorite bookstore app. While you’re there, don’t forget the fiction section. The more you read, the more you learn!

And there you have it. 5 tips to hone your craft. So, don’t waste anymore time. Your story is waiting!

Click to Tweet: If you’re not #writing every day, you’re missing out on opportunities to hone your craft. by @GailJohnson87 via @InspiredPrompt

Writing Prompt: Plan to search the web and social media for blogs on writing. Make a list of sites and books that would help you hone your craft. Then put that plan into action.

Easy Beef Stew

Good morning, dear reader. How’s that writing project coming along? Have enough time in your day? I think we’d all agree we could use less time in the kitchen and more time for writing. Let’s get started.

 

One of my favorite things to do, especially during the winter months, is throw something in the crock pot and cook it all day. It’s amazing what you can come up with by adding a little of this and a whole lot of that.

Here’s a picture of my upcoming recipe. Nothing like a warm bowl to wrap your hands around to ease your worries and comfort your soul. Let’s get right to the recipe

Ingredients

kristian-ryan-alimon-683430-unsplash2 ½ lb. Beef Chuck Roast
1 cup low sodium beef broth
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
4 medium potatoes quartered
4 large carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
Your choice of herbs

Instructions

Cut all vegetables into large chunks. Add roast and vegetables to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Serve with homemade biscuits.

Hope you enjoy the recipe. Happy writing!

Click to Tweet: Need more time for #writing? Easy #recipes for busy writers this month on Inspired Prompt. @InspiredPrompt @GailJohnson87

Writing Prompt

Patsy rushed through the door. She was home and her manuscript was waiting. Only one problem. Dinner. She opened the fridge to find only three ingredients . . .

Second photo courtesy Unsplash

The Secret Lives of Writers

Psst! Did you know that writers have secret lives? It’s true! When writers enter their lairs, they arm themselves with writer-ly weapons, don their favorite super writer costumes, and brandish finely honed writer powers. Want to know more? Great! Read on, wordsmiths.

Lairs

Like all superheroes, writers have secret lairs where they invent masterpieces—at least in their own minds. 😊 But I digress. We were talking about lairs. A lair can be a dimly lit coffee shop, a park bench, or a cave in the basement.

Weapons

Writers also have secret weapons that include gel pens, 500-page composition books, favorite energy drinks, and inspiring soundtracks. But in the end, the stealthy scribe depends on the trusty keyboard to finish the task.

Let’s tiptoe to the closet!

Costumes

One of the greatest things about being a superhero is the costume. Don’t you agree?

Like all modern crusaders, writers have their own costumes. Some are pilled spandex, holey jeans, and ratty pajamas. To complete their ensemble, they may add x-ray vision glasses with bifocals or colored contacts to hide their identity.

Powers

Finally, the best kept secret is their powers. Yes, writers have secret powers! You may find hints of those powers covertly embedded between the lines of their current manuscripts. So grab a book and start reading!

But before you go, I have another secret.

More Secrets

Do you know what writers do when they’re not writing? Well, that’s a secret our writers will share in this month’s posts. Be sure to join us to uncover the best kept secrets of writers everywhere.

Finally, here’s to all those who grind out thousands of words a year, obliterate pesky grammar mistakes, and create adventures for readers everywhere. You are awesome! Write on!

In the comments, share what is your must-have secret weapon, your hideaway, and your costume.

* Thanks to Kristy Horine for the writer-ly sentence. 🙂

ClicktoTweet: The Secret Lives of Writers @InspiredPrompt @GailJohnson87 #amwriting #authorlife

Why Do I Need an Editor?

By Gail Johnson

Good morning, dear reader. I’m excited to have Dawn Kinzer with me this morning explaining why we need editors. Be sure to leave any question you have in the comments. Take it away, Dawn!

Gail: Why do I need an editor?

editingIf you’re a writer who has a great critique group, you may feel that you’ve already been given helpful feedback on your book. If you’ve been traditionally published, or hope to be, you’re aware that the publishing house will provide some editing for you.

Both are tremendous and very helpful. But, what if you’re a new author trying to impress an agent or a traditional publisher? With the rise of self-publishing and the competition it’s brought for sales, traditional publishers are more likely to choose “known” authors over unknowns—unless your book is pretty amazing. Even if you have a great story or concept, not all traditional publishers are willing or able to spend time and money cleaning up numerous errors. It’s much more efficient to select a book close to being publishable.

Traditionally published authors wanting more control on covers and content are turning to self-publishing. Even though they have experience, they may also need another pair of eyes on their manuscripts to make sure they’re putting out the best product feasible.

A freelance editor can point out holes in your story, suggest ways to improve the character arcs, clean up technical errors, fine-tune sentences, remove redundancies, bring clarity to information shared, and much more.

Why not give yourself the best chance you can to gain attention from the professionals—and even more importantly—readers? After all, don’t we want to give them the best experience possible?

Gail: What type of editing do I need?

checklist-2077019_1920The type of editing needed will depend on how rough the manuscript is at the time. Is it only in the developmental stage? Or is the book close to being polished and ready for a final proofreading? Your editor will be able assist you in that decision. Sometimes writers—especially those new to publishing—think all they need is a proofread when the book might require a complete overhaul.

Gail: Please share the different levels of editing.

Descriptions of editing services may vary slightly between people, so it’s important that you get clarification from any editors you’re considering hiring.

My definitions:

Developmental Editing

This type of editing is more “big-picture” focused. A developmental editor works closely with the author on a specific project from the initial concept, outline, or draft (or some combination of the three) through any number of subsequent drafts.

Critique

A critique will provide an assessment/review of your manuscript, noting its strengths and weaknesses. I point out specific problem areas and give general suggestions for improvement. A critique doesn’t include detailed advice on grammatical and technical issues.

Substantive (Content)

A substantive edit focuses on the content being presented in a logical, engaging, and professional fashion. I check for flow, structure, clarity of subject, and readability. In fiction, this edit also focuses on character development, dialogue, tags, beats, plot, subplot(s), theme, pacing, tension, voice, point of view, setting, the five senses, passive writing, showing vs. telling, and a satisfying story resolution.

Copyedit (line by line)

A copyedit includes the elements of a proofread, but it also focuses on style, continuity, word choice, clarity, redundancies, and clichés. I don’t change the meaning, but I look for ways to improve the writing. In nonfiction, I check to see if sources are cited for statistics and quotations. In fiction, I look for inconsistencies in point of view and tense.

Proofreading

A proofread will catch errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, basic grammar, inconsistent format, typos, and word usage (such as further vs. farther).

Gail: How can I find a reputable editor?

  1. Choose an editor who is knowledgeable about your genre and industry guidelines.

medal-646943_1920

Just as different techniques are used in writing each genre, different skills are needed for editing each one. In some ways, nonfiction is very different from working on fiction. If you’ve written a novel, please don’t hire an editor who strictly reads and edits nonfiction.

  1. Make sure the editor uses professional style guides.

The industry uses the following books as guidelines/rules when it comes to grammar, spelling, capitalization, hyphenating, punctuation, formatting, and almost anything else associated with publishing.

The Chicago Manual of Style

The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style

AP Stylebook (used in journalism)

The Merriam Webster Dictionary

  1. Visit the editor’s website.

You’ll get a feel for the editor’s personality, background, affiliations, and be able to read any endorsements from clients.

  1. Ask for referrals.

You may ask other authors for referrals, and you may also ask the editor if you can contact the editor’s clients.

  1. Contact professional organizations for writers.

If you belong to local groups for writers, ask other members if they’ve hired a freelance editor or if they know of someone who edits professionally.

I’m a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Both organizations include a list of freelance editors on their websites.

  1. Contact the Christian Editor Connection (CEC)

A great way to find an editor is to contact the Christian Editor Connection (CEC). I’m a member of this national organization of freelance editors and proofreaders. In order to be accepted into this group, editors must pass a series of proficiency tests.

By visiting this organization online (https://christianeditor.com/), you have the opportunity to connect with qualified editors.

You fill out a form and provide information on your project, your contact information, your preferred timeline, and how many editors you’d like to hear from (2-5 seems to be the average). That information is sent out to editors interested in working on that type of genre in fiction or nonfiction. They contact you through e-mail, and if you decide to hire someone, you and that editor work directly with each other. There’s no fee for submitting a request, and there’s no obligation to hire anyone.

Gail: What is the going rate for an editor?

Fees vary depending on the type of work requested and the editor’s experience.

Some editors charge by the word, some by the page, and others by the hour. Some also charge for time spent answering e-mails and phone calls.

But, the average rate can be anywhere from $25-$45 per hour.

However you’re charged, prepare to possibly spend $1,000 to over $2,000 to have a book edited (depending on the type of service and manuscript length).

You can check out the national average wages charged for various services by visiting the website for the National Freelancer’s Association (https://www.the-efa.org/rates/).

Gail: Dawn, thank you for joining us and answering our questions!

Click to Tweet: A freelance editor can point out holes in your story, suggest ways to improve the character arcs, clean up technical errors, fine-tune sentences, remove redundancies, bring clarity to information shared, and much more. #amwriting @InspiredPrompt

Meet author and editor, Dawn Kinzer

Dawn Kinzer is a freelance editor, and she launched Faithfully Write Editing in 2010. Experienced in fiction and nonfiction, she edits books, articles, devotions, and short stories—and her own work has been published in various devotionals and magazines. With a desire to encourage other Christian writers, she co-hosts and writes for the blog, Seriously Write. Sarah’s Smile is the first book in her historical romance series The Daughters of Riverton, Hope’s Design is the second, and Rebecca’s Song completes the trilogy.

A mother and grandmother, Dawn lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Favorite things include dark chocolate, good wine, strong coffee, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre. You can connect and learn more about Dawn and her work by visiting: Author WebsiteDawn’s BlogGoodreadsFacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

Rebecca’s Song

The Daughters of Riverton Series, Book 3

A small-town school teacher who lost hope of having her own family.

A big-city railroad detective driven to capture his sister’s killer.

And three young orphans who need them both.

Rebecca Hoyt’s one constant was her dedication to her beloved students. Now, a rebellious child could cost her the job she loves. Without her teaching position, what would she do?

Detective Jesse Rand prides himself in protecting the people who ride the railroads. But, when his own sister and brother-in-law are killed by train robbers, the detective blames himself. Yet, another duty calls—he must venture to Riverton where his niece and nephews were left in the care of their beautiful and stubborn teacher, Rebecca Hoyt. They need to mourn and heal, but Jesse is determined to find his sister’s killers. Rebecca is willing to help care for the children, but she also fears getting too close to them—or their handsome uncle—knowing the day will come when he’ll take them back to Chicago.

Will Jesse and Rebecca find a way to open their hearts and work together? Or will they, along with the children, lose out on love?

Writing to Inspire

I have loved reading and writing from the moment I learned to do both. I wrote my first song when I was twelve, my first poem at fourteen. Later, I wrote about life. I never thought those scribbled notes of reflection would one day become a book of encouragement for others.

What the book is not

TreasuresofHopeFrontFinalWhen thoughts of telling my story bounced around inside my head, I kept pushing the idea aside. I refused to write a book about a hopeless situation. I didn’t enjoy reading those kinds of books so, why on earth would I write one? Who would want to read it? But when I couldn’t shake the idea, I set aside my WIP and prayed about the project. My goal in writing the story was to help others. And in doing that, I didn’t feel like the book should be about my story but HIS story.

So, I recalled the facts without sharing all the details. I concentrated on the aftermath and what victims of abuse and injustice deal with as Christians. Aren’t we supposed to forgive? What about justice? How do we let go our anger? How can we overcome fear? How can we move forward? How can we help others in our situations? How can we silence the lies inside our heads? How can we live a victorious life?

I think I accomplished my goal.

About the book

Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past is about overcoming the lies we believe about ourselves, whether those lies come from another person or the enemy of our souls.

During my journey, I found answers through the lives of women I’d heard about all my life but never connected the dots to how their lives pertained to my situation. Through Rachel, Sarah, Rahab, Hannah, and Esther, I discovered hope. In the chapters, I addressed intimacy, identity and purpose, fear, worth, and victory. I also included chapter questions, encouragement, and recommended songs and books. Although it is a memoir, readers have used it as a Bible study and a devotional.

I hope you find it inspiring no matter your situation.

Click to Tweet: I hope you find Treasures of Hope inspiring no matter your situation. #hope #bookgiveaway @GailJohnson87

 

 

About Gail

Gail Johnson enjoys sharing her passion for life and Christ through the power of the written word. Whether it’s through stories, articles, or songs, she invites her reader and listener to “taste and see” the hope she has found in a faithful God and loving Savior. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the author of Treasures of Hope, Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past, a memoir.

You can learn more about Gail at gailjohnsonauthor.com