Ellie Martin Cliffe

How to Be a Better Writer #5: Master Your Phrases

More recently than I'd like to admit, I'd hear "The Joker" by The Steve Miller Band and sing along at the top of my lungs: "Some people call me Maurice (woo woo!) / 'cause I speak to the prophetess of love." That is, until a friend gently pointed out that the line is "'cause I speak of the pompitous of love." Whatever that means... Belt out whatever lyrics you want on karaoke night, but when it comes to your writing, you've gotta get your phrases right. Today, I'm sharing 15 of the top misconstrued phrases, plus the correct ones you should slate in their place. 1) Instead of: Flush outIt's actually: Flesh outTrick: Think of giving an idea more body, fattening it up, making it fleshier. 2) Instead of: Hone inIt's actually: Home inTrick: Picture a homing pigeon returning to its place of origin -- getting to the point. This one's contentious, actually, but linguists generally agree that "home in" came first. If you can't stand that idea, try using another phrase altogether: "zero in." 3) Instead of: For all intensive purposesIt's actually: For all intents and purposesTrick: Just remember you're including all your reasons -- intents and purposes. 4)…

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How to Be a Better Writer #4: Revise!

                                            Good on you! You've published your novel and it's on digital bookshelves everywhere. Then you get a note from your outspoken cousin Tom. He loves the book...but he found a typo in chapter two. Ugh! Back when all books were ink on paper, you would've been out of luck. Thank goodness it's the Digital Age. Fixing errors is no big deal -- at least in your e-edition. Notice how I said "errors" there? It's entirely possible that Cousin Tom's discovery is the only typo you and your editor didn't catch, but just in case there are others, save your future self some work and proof your published book once more, noting necessary updates as you go. That way, you'll need just one revision. The process takes a little time, and you want your readers (current and future ones alike) to have that flawless copy ASAP. Both Kindle Direct Publishing [link: http://kdp.amazon.com/] and NOOK Press [link: http://www.nookpress.com/] give you the option to make corrections to a published manuscript. Not surprisingly, their services are a little bit different. Here's how each one works. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)Updating your Kindle ebook is pretty darn simple. You fix…

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How to Be a Better Writer #3: Get an Editor

Yup, it's true that your writing will improve if you proofread it, but guess what: You can take it leaps further. When I was interviewing renowned indie author Helen Hollick for last month's Post she had nothing but praise for her editor, and with good reason. A fresh set of eyes makes a world of difference. "A good editor is a must for indie writers—not only to ensure the final proof has as few typo errors as possible, and for the obvious grammar, punctuation and spelling bloopers, but also to assist with the writing process as an overall experience," Helen says.Editors vary greatly when it comes to their services, editing styles, pricing structures and so on. I got in touch with editor Dulcie Shoener, so we could offer a big-picture look at what you can expect from the experience. Why consider professional editing?Simply enough, hiring a pro has major benefits. First, editing is his or her job. He or she knows how to hone your language, plot flow, character development and all the other components that will keep readers engaged from the very first page. "Every sentence should be a good sentence," says Dulcie, who's been editing newspapers, magazines and books for…

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How to Be a Better Writer #2: Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

  Greetings, authors! I'm back with another dose of writing wisdom. This time, it's about what happens after the creative work is done: proofreading. When I told Geri Clouston, indieBRAG's founder and president, about the topic for this month's blog, she hooked me up with Helen Hollick, a British author who's received a lot of praise for her brilliant manuscripts. Helen's big on proofreading and editing. It might be one reason three of her books are B.R.A.G. Medallion honorees. "Keep this in mind," she tells me. "Anyone can write a book. Not everyone can write a readable book." It might be a bit hard to admit, but she's absolutely right. The two of us agree, a thorough proofread (and, if you can swing it, a professional edit) is an excellent way to bump your work into the latter category. "It is essential to ensure that your final proof, before going to print, is as error free as possible (although I am convinced that the gremlins creep in as soon as the printing press starts running...)," Helen says. "It doesn't matter how good your plot and characterisation are, if the final printed version is littered with silly errors, the reading experience…

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Editing by Ellie

How to Be a Better Writer #1: Don't Count on Spell-Check Greetings, authors! I'm Ellie, an editor by day and a voracious reader by night, and I'm thrilled to be a new member of the indieBRAG blog team. Each month, I'll be sharing tricks and tweaks you can use to shine up your writing. I've been reading books for indieBRAG for quite awhile and have discovered so many talented authors this way. But sometimes it's hard to ignore my inner writer-editor so I can relax, have fun and just read (I'm sure you can agree!). Sure, it's annoying, but that little voice has led me to some helpful insights into how we can all improve already good writing. One biggie has to do with spelling. Not the basics; more like spelling 2.0. Poll your Facebook buddies about their biggest writing pet peeves, and you'll see a lot of gripes about there/there/they're or to/too/two. Makes perfect sense. Homonyms -- sound-alike words that mean different things -- are tricky stuff. Even so, readers tend to notice when they're misused. Your book could have a fantastic storyline that uses an impressively diverse vocabulary, but if you flub on words like the ones above,…

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