Monday, March 31, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction--March 31, 2014--Avoid Wordiness

A Step in the Write Direction

March 31, 2014

Update: Our missionary speaker at church yesterday used a term that described how I’ve been feeling lately: “holy unrest.” Do you ever get hungry for something more—a closer walk with God, a burden for unsaved loved ones, to see a real revival break out in our church and in our country? He said a mail carrier, discovering he was a pastor, asked him, “How are things in your little church?” He replied that it wasn’t a little church; it was one of the largest in town. Then the carrier said, “No, I mean your ‘little’ church, your home? How is it with your family?” The speaker then said yesterday, “We won’t have change in our ‘big’ church until we experience a change in our ‘little’ church.” Good thought! Perhaps something we write today can help make a change in someone’s life!

Thought for Today: God is at his best when our life is at its worst” (Max Lucado).

Laugh for Today:
I better keep this around...I may be needing this in a few years...Thanks to Melissa for posting it this morning!

Writer’s Tips: Avoid Wordiness

Weak: Bob went to his car, opened the door, and sat down behind the wheel. Closing the door, he fastened his seat belt, then he adjusted his rearview mirror, and looked in his glove compartment for his sunglasses. Finally finding them, he took a tissue from the cup holder and cleaned the glasses. Then he put the car in gear and backed out of the driveway. Reaching the end of the driveway, he looked to the right and to the left, before heading east down the street. Reaching the corner, he stopped at the stop sign. Seeing no one coming, he continued on his way. After stopping at several traffic lights, he finally arrived at the restaurant where he was to meet his client for lunch.

Better: John pulled out of the driveway, and ten minutes later he arrived at the restaurant where he found his client waiting.

I’ve chosen some samples of wordiness from manuscripts I edited. They are used with the permission of the authors.

Wordy: He did not take the time to file a flight plan, which he usually did just before take-off.”
Better: He did not take the time to file his usual flight plan.

Wordy: “She invited ______ to be seated, then she set the table and placed two mugs of water into her microwave oven, preparatory to brewing tea. When the water was sufficiently hot, she inserted a tea bag in each mug and closed the door while the tea steeped.”
Better: “She invited _______ to be seated, then she prepared two cups of tea.” How much does your reader need to know?

Wordy: “She raised her hand and stiffened her finger that was shaking and pointing to a crude sign nailed to the top of a cross.”
Better: “She pointed a shaky finger to a crude sign nailed to the top of a cross.”

One of the best ways to improve on wordiness is to enter contests in which the entry has to be 50 words or less. You discover how many words are absolutely unnecessary.

Sometimes when I typed term papers for students (before computers!), I’d end up with one word to go onto the next page. In most cases, it was simple to omit a word without changing the mean­ing. However, while typing a book for a friend, this was not the case. She had written so tightly that not one word could be removed without changing the context. Strong writing, indeed.

 Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich
"A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction--March 24, 2014--Eliminate "he said" and "she said"

A Step in the Write Direction

March 24, 2014

Update: This past week I was upset with a situation and to “vent,” I wrote an email to a friend. At the end I wrote, “I probably should delete this email and not send it, but I’m going to anyway.” After reading it over, I deleted the name of the person I was going to send it to, and addressed it to “God.” I figured He could do more about it, and I wouldn’t worry the other person….That same day as I got in my car to run several errands, I was still mulling the situation over in my mind (no, I was WORRYING about it), and turning on the ignition I said wearily, “Lord, I need help.” Just then these words came from the CD: “…Bring Him every burden; bring Him every care. Come unto Me. I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Hear Me and be blessed. I am meek and lowly. Come and trust My might. Come, My yoke is easy. Come, My burden’s light.” (“Come Unto Me,” Charles P. Jones.) What perfect timing!!

Thought for Today:
  “Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
to work, to speak, and think for Thee;
still let me guard the holy fire
and stir up Thy gift in me.”
—Charles Wesley

Laugh for Today: A teen-age boy told his parents he was going to run away. "Listen," he
said, "I'm leaving home. There is nothing you can do to stop me. I want excitement,
adventure, beautiful women, money, and fun. I'll never find it here, so I'm leaving.
Just don't try to stop me!" As he headed for the door, his father leaped up and
ran toward him. "Dad," the boy said firmly, "you heard what I said. Don't try to
stop me. I'm going!" "Who's trying to stop you?" answered the father, "I'm going
with you!" (Barbara Brokhoff, Bitter-sweet Recollections, CSS Publishing Company).

Song for Today:
You will meet with trials as you journey home;
Grace sufficient He will give to overcome.
Tho’ unseen by mortal eye, He is with you ever nigh.
And He’ll keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.
                        —J. Edward Ruark, “You May Have the Joy-bells”

Writer’s Tips: Eliminate "he said," "she said."

Don’t always have to say “he said” or “she said.” Three ways to avoid it:

1) Change paragraph with each speaker;

2) Follow dialogue with action line that mentions the character.
            OK: "Like my mother before me, I inherited my magic," Gwen said. She picked up the tattered parchment.

            Better: "Like my mother before me, I inherited my magic." Gwen picked up the tattered parchment.

3) Call the other person by name.  "Just be patient, Gwen."

The following is taken from a Writer’s Digest article:

“Most beginning authors have trouble with the use of the word ‘said.’ There is no reason to shy away from ‘said’ in dialogue. After all, words are spoken, not flung, ejaculated, whipped out, proclaimed, exhaled, blatted, hissed or cried. People ‘say’ things to other.

“To show you how bizarre this can become, Dick Perry in his book One Way to Write Your Novel (Writers Digest Books) shows how riotous and ridiculous dialogue becomes when the author strains at something other than ‘said’.”

“Hilda,” he murmured, “I love you.”

“Do you, Herbert?” she breathed.

“Yes!” he thundered.

“Are you certain you love me?” she whined.

“Why?” he gasped. “Don’t you love me?”

“I love you,” she yelled.

“You do?” he hissed.

“I’ll always love you,” he alleged.

“I’m so happy,” she whimpered.

“Me, too,” he panted.”

 Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction--March 17--Linda Carlblom, guest blogger

A Step in the Write Direction

March 17, 2014

Update: Yes! I received a contract this last week for A Step in the Write Direction, so it won’t be going out of print. As I mentioned before, I’ll be combining the original book with the Student Edition, so I am selling all my inventory of this latter book for just $10 each, plus $3 s&h. This is a great book for home schoolers, Christian schools, beginning writers, or anyone who enjoys assignments throughout a book….I also have 5 copies left of the 2014 Christian Writers’ Market Guide for only $15, $3 s&h, and 100-Plus Motivational Moments for Writers and Speakers for half price—$5, and $3 s&h….My husband had his left hand x-rayed Monday after his fall and we’re thankful it wasn’t broken—just swollen and purple, but it’s getting a lot better….Happy St. Patty’s Day everyone. Hope the winter weather has begun to clear up in your area.

Thought for Today: The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked (Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle).

Laugh for Today: The lady was trying to impress those at the party.  "My family's ancestry is very old," she bragged.  "It dates back to the days of King John of England."  Then, turning to a lady sitting quietly in a corner, she asked condescendingly, "And how old is your family, my dear?"  The lady was trying to impress those at the party.  "My family's ancestry is very old," she bragged.  "It dates back to the days of King John of England."  Then, turning to a lady sitting quietly in a corner, she asked condescendingly, "And how old is your family, my dear?" "Well," replied the woman with a smile, "I really can't say. All our family records were lost in the flood."

Song for Today:
Troubled soul, the Saviour can see
Ev’ry heartache and tear.
Burdens are lifted at Calvary;
Jesus is very near.
            —John H. Moore, “Burdens Are lifted at Calvary”

Writer’s Tips:
This week we’re honored to have Linda McQuinn Carlblom, a member of our weekly critique group, Tuesday’s Children, as our guest blogger. I’m sure you’ll enjoy what she has to say.
Linda McQuinn Carlblom, I feel a little guilty about that title. Because lately, I don’t feel much like a writer. But several of the authors on this blog agreed to share their writing routine just so people would know what it’s like to be a writer. And I was one of them.
For me, writing has had to take a backseat in this season of my life. I’ve had several books published in the past and have several works in progress. But real life has overtaken my writing time for the most part and it’s all I can do right now to get a post written for this blog twice a month. I’ve had to tell myself that this is OK. That I will have more time for writing when I’m not caring for elderly parents while still parenting my last child, getting rental houses ready to re-rent, and keeping up with the revolving door of hospitality that my husband and I love to keep open.
To me that’s what writing is: Living life in the moment. Caring for those you love. Sharing God’s rich blessings with others who step into the comfort of our home. Being a blessing by loving others deeply. How is that writing? you ask.
Because to write in a way that’s believable and affects your readers you must live abundantly. Everything that happens in a writer’s life, all the emotions felt (both good and bad), all the sensory details and conversations spoken are fodder for the writer’s mind. They come back as you sit at your keyboard and write—for instance, that scene where a parent must say good-bye to their loved one. You remember the sounds that were around you and the way the room smelled and the sharp crack of your heart breaking. That ache in your throat as you swallowed tears and inhaled roughly trying to keep tears at bay when you were in the store the next day. It all comes from living deep and loving much, sharing what you have, and then releasing it into God’s generous hands.
So even though I don’t have a set time to plop myself down and write every day, or even every week, I’m writing in my mind. I’m remembering, taking notes, storing memories, and taking pictures. I know God will redeem the time I’m spending doing His will in this season of life. And when I do start a regular schedule of writing again, life will come pouring forth on the page, full and vibrant.
And I know I’ll have no regrets for the days I couldn’t write.
Linda McQuinn Carlblom is a wife, mom of three children, and Grammy to six grandkids. She loves writing for children and young adults. After God, her top three loves are: family, reading, and cheesecake. Visit her at or at her Parenting with a Smile blog,

 Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction--March 10, 2014--Strong verbs

A Step in the Write Direction

March 10, 2014

Update: It’s been quite an interesting week: Tuesday I took my sister out for her 83rd birthday…  Wednesday I took the light rail into Phoenix and met my “bestest” friend at the Spaghetti Factory (she drove in from Sun City). She’s taking a new drug for hepatitis C which leaves her quite fatigued, but we had a good visit…Thursday I spoke at a PrimeTimers luncheon (seniors) at a nearby church on “The Freedom of Letting Go,” and gave the same talk Saturday at a Woman’s Wellness Day, and also a talk on “Your Four Selves” (what you think you are, what others think you are, what you really are, and what you can be with God’s help). Had to leave partway through for another funeral at our church…Just finished proofreading a 147-page book and have two income taxes to do tomorrow, then I think this week will be a little quieter. But who knows? Oh yes, my hubby took another fall last night—scraped his knees (which we have to watch carefully as he’s had MRSA on one of his knees from another fall), and also his left hand is swollen and bruised, so will keep an eye on that. It’s never dull at our house!!

Thought for the Day: Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself (Eleanor Roosevelt).

Laugh for the Day: An elderly woman, never married, requested no male pallbearers. In her handwritten instructions for her memorial service, she wrote, “They wouldn't take me out while I was alive, I don't want them to take me out when I'm dead.” 

Song for the Day:
All the talents I have I have laid at Thy feet;
Thy approval shall be my reward.
Be my store great or small, I surrender it all
To my wonderful, wonderful Lord.
                        —Haldor Lillenas, My Wonderful Lord,

Writer’s Tips – Strong verbs

            Okay: She closed the kitchen window.
            Better: She slammed the kitchen window.

            Okay:   Fran looked at her husband across the table.
            Better: "She stared or glared or gazed at her husband" (depending on her mood).

            Okay: Judy came into the room where her friend sat...
            Better: Judy burst into the room..."

            Okay: Judy walked into the room.
            Better: Judy stomped (noisily??) into the room (don’t need adverb—stomped is noisy)
                        Judy tiptoed (quietly??) into the room (don’t need adverb—tiptoed is quiet)

            Okay: Jesus was sad.
            Better: Jesus wept.

            Okay:   Judy said to her husband.
            Better: Judy yelled at her husband.

            Okay:   He walked through the water. 
            Better:  He sloshed through the water. (picture of a puddle)
                        He waded through the water. (picture of deep water)

            Okay:   He walked down the hall.
            Better: He darted through the crowded corridor.

            Okay:   She picked up the package.
            Better:  She grabbed the package.

Paint a picture with your words so your readers can see what’s happening!

 Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich

"A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"
"The Freedom of Letting Go"
"Healing in God's Time"
"100-Plus Motivational Moments for Writers and Speakers"

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction--March 3, 2014--More Editing Hints

A Step in the Write Direction
March 3, 2014

Update: Busy week coming up so appreciate your prayers: critique group Tuesday morning, then taking sister out for birthday lunch; spending Wednesday in Phoenix with “bestest” friend (we’ve been friends for 69 years) and church at night; a talk at a seniors luncheon Thursday, and 2 talks at another workshop Saturday afternoon with, sad to say, another funeral that morning….Thoughts from yesterday’s sermon. Verse used was “We have toiled all night and have caught nothing; nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” How does this relate to writers?
·        I don’t have a college education; nevertheless, I will keep on writing…because—
·        I don’t get any support from my family and friends; nevertheless, I will keep on writing…because—.
·        All I get are rejections without even a personal note or a reason; nevertheless, I will keep on writing…because—
I am called to write!!

Thought for the Day:
    "Some Christians jump all over the room;
    Others are as solemn and quiet as a tomb.
    Some lift their hands high in the air,
    But others wouldn't, even on a dare.
    Christians are different in style and in song;
    But if they are humble, to Christ they belong."
—Author unknown

Laugh for the Day:
Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother, “Why is the bride dressed in white?'' The mother replied, “Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.” The child thought about this for a moment then said, “So why is the groom wearing black?”

Writer’s Tips

More Editing Hints

Make Scene Logical

Levi is on his knees, sitting back on his heels, his elbows resting on his thighs. (Try sitting like that.)

Girl braiding her own hair the day after she breaks her arm and is wearing a cast. (I could barely comb my own hair with a cast on, say nothing of braiding it.)

Man in car watching girl go into apartment building. She goes up the steps, into the front
door, down the hallway, up the steps, and “he watches as she knocks at the door.” (Did he have a periscope?)

Incorrect Order Can Change Picture in Reader’s Mind

*          "A buffet will be served in the cafeteria so that parents can eat as well as meet their children's teachers."
            "... so that parents can eat lunch and meet their children's teachers."

*          Driving along the highway, a deer leaped in front of the car.  (Claire Cook)
            As we drove along the highway, a deer leaped in front of the car.

As Can Incorrect Punctuation

*          Man wanted to wash dishes and two waitresses.
*          Pen lost by man full of ink.

 Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich

"A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"
"The Freedom of Letting Go"
"Healing in God's Time"