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December 2012
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How to get rid of info dumps in your story

Sometimes 240_F_42603728_eVv8ZYMJjvnM5mO3ywj59fsV6nzMpU0K you do need to include the information provided in the info dump in your story. The best way to accomplish that is to incorporate it into your tale:
• Rewrite so that it’s part of the description or so it’s implied in the dialogue – This is the best way. You are now showing the information rather than telling it.
• Have the characters read or see a news report – If the information can’t be rewritten, use this ploy. Only give the information necessary to the plot, however, not the entire news article or report.
• Provide journal entries or captain’s logs – In 10 seconds, Captain Kirk gets you caught up on the plot. Usually some conflict needs to be noted or implied in the log, however, so that there’s dramatic tension.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Fort Worth, Texas, or a small town like Tightwad, Missouri, I can provide that second eye.



Incorporate man vs. man conflict into your story

When 0087developing your story, you’ll want your characters to face a number of challenges or conflicts. One of the most basic of them is man vs. man. In this conflict, the main character finds his goals jeopardized by another individual: a stormtrooper shooting at them, a Klingon arguing with them in a space station cantina; or a lowly human turning our astronauts over to the sadistic ape overlords.

At its basest, man vs. man conflict is just two people taking on one another, with our hero usually winning. At its best, this conflict can symbolically test competing ideas and ethical solutions. A character represents one approach to a problem while the other represents an alternative path. All too often, these representations are reduced to simplistic views of good and evil. But by showing each characters’ motivations and needs, the story’s theme gains depth while the dramatic tension soars.

A good example of man vs. man conflict is “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” The story clearly revolves around two people: Khan and Admiral Kirk. The motivations of each are given: Khan wants revenge upon Kirk for marooning him on a planet that then underwent an ecological disaster and that killed his wife. Kirk feels a responsibility to protect the civilized world from Kahn, a disposed dictator and product of genetic engineering who he had defeated several years before. They play an extensive game of cat and mouse with one another in an effort to win. In the end, Kirk wins because his motivations are not based on revenge but doing what his right by others.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Dallas, Texas, or if you come from a small town Why, Arizona, I can provide that second eye.


What is a story? An autopsy of a tale

What is a 363story? An idea or a setting or a character alone do not make a story. A fictional story is all of those and more.

For the convenience of analysis and discussion, stories often are broken into parts. These parts typically are referred to as the five elements of fiction. They include:
• Plot - How the problem in the story is overcome, typically thought of as physical action
• Setting - Where and when this action occurs
• Character - Whoever attempts to solve the story’s problem as well as those who create the problem and those that appear incidentally
• Point of view - Perspective from which the story is narrated
• Theme - Purpose for which a story is told

It’s easy to think of the five elements of fiction as a matter of the 5 W’s and 1 H, or what, where, when who, why and how. Plot is what happens in the story. Setting is where and when the story happens. Character is who the story happens to. Point of view is how the story happens to be told. Theme is why the story happened to be told, or its message.

Each of these elements appears naturally in the story, whether you consciously intend them to or not. Consider the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode “The Best of Both Worlds”. The plot is about stopping a Borg invasion of the Federation. The setting is the 24th century (various stardates are given) in various star systems and aboard the starship enterprise and the invading Borg cube. The characters are the Enterprise’s crew, particularly Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Commander Will Riker and Lt. Cmdr. Shelby. The point of view largely is from an outside perspective, as if we were aboard the Enterprise. The theme is that individuality and self-determination triumphs over collectivism.

Virtually all of the problems with poorly written stories are that they in some way muddle one or more of these elements. In addition, you may perfectly nail each of these five elements but still tell the story poorly because it lacks flair; such problems are a matter of style, which is a part of understanding the craft of writing though not an element of fiction itself.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Providence, Rhode Island, or a small town like Gay Head, Massachusetts, I can provide that second eye.


Five great quotations about writing style

“A 240_F_105288946_4h6sX3MWkPfEK2Gp0rMxiLlwmO78tHanscrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?” – George Orwell

“Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.” – John Ruskin

“It’s not about the writing. It's about the feelings behind the words.” – Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, “Animal Crossing: Wild World

“Do not put statements in the negative form. And don’t start sentences with a conjunction. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all. De-accession euphemisms. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.” – William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”

“Be obscure clearly.” – E.B. White

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Norfolk, Virginia, or a small town like Crappo, Maryland, I can provide that second eye.



Market your book with endorsements

When 7009promoting your book, you always should have a website, send out press releases to bloggers and mainstream media, and arrange book readings/signings to ensure the title is properly promoted. But those aren’t the only things you can do. In fact, they may not be enough. One marketing effort you might want to consider is obtaining endorsements.

If you know experts in your profession – say astronauts if you’re writing about space travel or a recognizable novelist if writing fiction – ask them to read your book and write a line or two that can be quoted on the back of your book with the blurb. These endorsements also might be placed on your website. When a celebrity or expert endorses your book, it instantly gives it credibility among a number of readers. If you don’t know any such experts, send them a copy of your book and ask if they might consider writing a line or two about it that you would use in your publicity.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Hampton Roads, Virginia, or a small town like Crappo, Maryland, I can provide that second eye.



Basic guidelines for self-publishing ebooks

About 75 10100527_s percent of all books these days are sold as ebooks – meaning they’re read on Kindles, Nooks, and other electronic readers rather than in paper form. As most writers are lovers of paper books, they often need reminding that they should self-publish their volume in ebook as well as paper form. Likewise, almost no one should limit their book purely to ebook sales.

Developing the paper version of the book first then converting it to ebook form is traditional. This approach need not be followed, though. There is a lot of logic to going with the ebook first, as the paper version requires much more intensive formatting – such as adding page numbers, assigning typeface styles, and aligning margins (Indeed, because of this, most of this book focuses on self-publishing paper versions of your title, though much of what you do for a paper book, such as writing a cover blurb and designing a cover, are essential for an ebook.).

When creating your ebook, follow these basic guidelines:
• Strip it of styles – Other than using all caps and italics, typesetting styles used for chapter titles, section headers, drop caps and more can’t appear in most current ebooks. All wording should appear in one typeface and a couple of point sizes.
• Get rid of extra spacing – Your paperback version may place several lines of white space between chapter titles and the chapter’s first sentence, but that needs to disappear in your ebook. Single space the entire ebook.
• Dump tabs on paragraphs – Unlike a paper book, the first line of a paragraph isn’t indented. Like a business letter, all paragraph’s left margins are even or aligned. To indicate a new paragraph, an empty line is placed between paragraphs. This is done by hitting the ENTER key twice at the end of a paragraph.
• Delete page numbers – Page numbers are meaningless in ebooks as the reader can change the type size. That doesn’t mean you should dispense with the table of contents, though. Instead, each chapter or section title in the table of contents should be linked to where that chapter or section begins in the text. Indexes generally can be deleted, though.

When uploading an ebook to a specific self-publishing house, be sure to first read through their guidelines. Some have very specific rules and recommendations that will make your upload go much easier.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Los Angeles, California, or a small town like Hell, Michigan, I can provide that second eye.


Get in gear with backup vs. back up vs. back-up

The next time 240_F_113126262_ZEBvp9OVrpPEa0yRlOOWdTPEZF6JURCuyou write one of these words, you may want to back up and see if you’ve got it right. Knowing which part of speech you’re using will prove helpful.

“Backup” as a single a word with no space or hyphen can be used either as an adjective (When Johnson got knocked out, the coach put in his backup quarterback.) or as a noun (Noticing that the license plate matched that of a stolen vehicle, the policeman called for backup.).

“Back up” as two words with a space is a verb meaning to go in reverse (“Stop and back up, I think someone was in the alley,” the deputy said to his partner.).

Sometimes “back-up” with a hyphen appears as a replacement for “backup.” The hyphen is unnecessary, though, so back up and go with a single word.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like New York, New York, or a small town like Bantam, Connecticut, I can provide that second eye.



Avoid giving readers a big info dump

An info Disposal-1846033_1920dump is a chunk of exposition that is insufficiently integrated into the story being told. It’s also known as an “expository lump” and is a specific kind of exposition.

The info dump usually involves sharing your research notes with the reader, just to prove that you’ve done the research. While it’s sometimes necessary to give such information, make sure it sounds natural in your piece and not like a cut-and-paste from an encyclopedia.

Often an info dump is given by a Stapledon, a character serves no purpose other than to relate exposition, usually at great length and without interruption. As in real life, such characters are dull.

Another kind of info dumping is “maid-and-butler dialogue” in which characters tell each other things that they already should know so that the reader can overhear them. Unfortunately, those characters sound simple minded as the lines they deliver in real life would be inane.

Having said this, even the greatest writers are guilty of info dumping. Isaac Asimov is notorious for it in “The Foundation,” often regarded as one of the best novels in the science fiction genre. Frequently, however, these writers were allowed their transgression because the story the info dump itself was so fantastic (As a child, I had the same reaction to many encyclopedia articles that opened my eyes to the wider world). But with so many science fiction conventions that have appeared time and time again, your info dump probably isn’t all that fantastic. Given this, it’s best to avoid the info dump.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Denver, Colorado, or a small town like Dewey Beach, Delaware, I can provide that second eye.



Consider using man vs. nature conflict in story

When developing Capsize-184167_1920 your story, you’ll want your characters to face a number of challenges or conflicts. One of the most basic of them is man vs. nature. In this conflict, the characters find their goals jeopardized by the natural forces of the universe: the cold of an ice age, dangerous plants and animals in an alien jungle, or the vacuum of space.

This conflict can truly test the characters’ stamina, and in a Darwinistic way, show who is the fittest. There’s virtually nothing that a character can do to change the weather or his environment, but he can through physical strength, willpower and intelligence survive it. Exactly how the character does survive – whether by forcing himself to stay awake for three days until he can march his out of the desert or by using his wits to kill a beast and sleeping in its belly to stay warm – says a lot about what characteristics the author values.

The man vs. nature conflict can takes on a thematic role in ecological disaster stories. A good example of this is Larry Niven’s novel "Legacy of Heorot." Set on a colony world, the story centers on how nature is “fighting back” against the ecological changes that the colonists have engendered. It examines the issues of what happens when humans interfere with the natural order of a world and if the notion of “protecting nature” is rational.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like St. Louis, Missouri, or a small town like Cheesequake, New Jersey, I can provide that second eye.


Editing client releases third SF book, 'Ace of Aces'

Chris Ace of AcesBerman, an editing client of mine for the past year, has released his third science fiction novel, “Aces of Aces.” Set on Earth in 2287, humanity is finally at peace. War has been banished by the science of genetics, tempering mankind’s violence but not our desire to explore the worlds of other suns. However, there are others among the stars who seek our destruction. Facing annihilation and without military leadership, those of the 23rd century must reach across the sea of time, plucking five World War II aces from the heat of battle, to train and lead the young and aggressive outcasts of humanity's Second Enlightenment in the art of aerial combat. Fact meets fiction in a story that weaves the biographies of five actual World War II pilots: Douglas Bader, of Great Britain; Gregory Boyington, of the United States; Adolf Galland, of Germany; Lydia Litvyak of the USSR; and Saburo Sakai of Japan. “Ace of Aces” is available at Amazon.com.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like San Diego, California, or a small town like Eek, Arkansas, I can provide that second eye.