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Find and Replace Tool

One of the most useful tools to utilize during the revision phase of your first draft is the Find and Replace tool. The instructions here are for Word for Windows, but a similar function should be available for other word processing programs.

Within Word, you turn it on by simply clicking on [Control] and [F] at the same time (the letter F not the function key).

When revising, it is a good idea to save the draft as a new version each time in case you make a major mistake and need to go back to the previous version. You do this by selecting [Save As] and entering the Your Title Rev 1 (2,3,4,5,6,7, etc). When you have completely finished all editing and revising, save it as Your Title Final File.

1. If you do a quick rough draft you may have lots of blanks with placeholders **fill in here** or other placeholders (XXX) (#) for names, places, dates, locations, etc. Searching for ** or your placeholder cues will quickly take you from one placeholder to the next.

2. Develop a list of repetitive words. It may change and/or grow with every book you write.

3. Develop a list of adjectives. We all have personal favorites. You can use the starter list in Story Building Blocks III and add to it as you go.

4. Develop a list of adverbs or search for *.ly. This might take a while. 

5. Develop a list of body language words and emotion words. Fill in your placeholders or make certain that your characters aren't yawning, grimacing, frowning, or sighing on every other page.

6. Search for passive language by looking for the word was. I guarantee this will take a long time. Make certain to enter a space before the word was followed by another space: [ was ], otherwise every word containing the letters was together (wash, swash, twas) will be highlighted.

7. Use [Find] and [Replace] to change the name of a place or character. Use [Find Next] rather than [Replace All]. Why? Here's an example.

Let's say you want to replace the word format with method. The program searches for all the places the combination of letters appears. It may change words you never intended: information becomes inmethodion.

If your character's name is May and you decide to change her name to Sally, you end up with, “I sally not want to,” instead of “I may not want to.” The word maybe becomes sallybe. You see the problem.

8. Don't mass delete.

A quick way of deleting a word is to use [Find], but never [Delete All] or you could end up with gibberish. Let's say you want to remove all the "could have"s.  Go to each one individually. You may have to reword the sentence so it still makes sense.

9. If you make a mistake, [Control] [Z] or [Undo] is your best friend. It can, however, take you back further than intended. Which leads us to ...

10. Save frequently with [Control] [S].

Saving after every change slows you down too much, so I don't advise it. You should save the file frequently enough, perhaps at the end of each page, to mitigate heartache if your computer goes haywire, turns off in the middle, or you unintentionally select [Undo] and an entire paragraph disappears. Weird things happen.

Examples of Tone

Last week we talked about what tone is, and isn't. This week we'll try to define it with examples.

You are writing a Romance.

Let's say Dick, your narrator, is at a company picnic in a park. The sky is clear. The grill is smoking. His coworkers are drinking beer and it is mid afternoon. How does Dick feel about being there? If he is an extrovert and happy with his job, he is lightheartedly milling around, joking, laughing, and downing brews with the best of them. He has a great time, until he learns something that turns his happy place into a not so happy place. Like the fact that his rival, Ted, got the promotion instead of him. Dick worries that Ted’s promotion gives him a leg up with the girl of both men’s dreams. Dick leaves feeling determined. He rushes to call Sally before Ted can. The tone in this story should reflect Dick's upbeat point of view and competitive attitude toward the situation. If your romance is light and breezy, Dick views this obstacle as a fun challenge. He finds a way to woo Sally, no matter what comical lengths he must go to. There is tension, but it is a funny situation. If your romance is a tragedy, Dick views this scene as one more nail in his coffin. There is tension, but it is bleak, foreshadowing inevitable demise, and somber.

You are writing a Thriller.

Dick is at the company picnic in the park. The sky is overcast and threatening rain. The barbecue smoke makes his eyes water and nose run. He hates hotdogs. He hates his co-workers. He wishes he never had to see those drunken slobs ever again; but he grins and bears it until he can steal the research documents. So, he sips water. He smiles, nods, and bides his time. When he feels everyone is drunk enough, he goes back to the office and begins the search. In this example, Dick views the situation as dark and bleak. He focuses on the negative. The picnic is something to be endured to meet his goal. The overall tone of the story focuses on the tension, the hurry, the risk. There may be light moments, but there is no doubt that the situation is serious and the consequences are high.

You are writing a Literary novel.

Dick is at the company picnic in the park. He desperately needs the promotion. He has child support and outrageous alimony to pay. He can't afford to be unemployed. The sun burns. He sweats profusely. The smoke is suffocating and the stench of roasting steak makes his stomach churn. Dick circulates. He shakes hands and fake smiles at his coworkers until his jaws hurt. He finds out Ted got the promotion. In fact, Dick’s department is being cut. Dick is grateful when it starts raining so he can leave and drown his sorrows in a bottle of Scotch. In this example, the tone could be comic or tragic. The reader walks away, wryly acknowledging that bad things happen to good people, or walks away ruminating on the evils of cruel corporations. There is tension. It is either released by continual humor, or you emphasize the pathos of modern living along the way.

Revision Tips
As you read through your manuscript, consider the narrator's tone. Can you identify it? Do you want the story to be breezy, syrupy, gripping, horrifying, or funny?

What is your genre? Does the tone correlate?

Look at your descriptions and setting. How does the point of view character view the situation? Is it consistent with the tone you have adopted?

Do the details that your character focuses on and the words he uses to relate them support the tone?

Is your tone consistent? Do you find yourself handling the material as dramatic in one scene and slapstick in another?

For these and other tips on revision, pick up a copy of: 

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision/dp/1475011369

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision-ebook/dp/B007SPPL68

Watch That Tone

A child learns early on to recognize tone of voice. The mother's soft, sweet coo means she is happy with him. The low growl utilizing his middle name means he pushed the boundaries a tad too far, but what does tone have to do with fiction?



Tone is the emotional atmosphere the writer establishes and maintains throughout the entire novel based on how the author, through the point of view character, feels about the information she relates. 

You may not have thought about how you actually feel about your story. Take a moment to consider. Are you writing about ghosts with a wink and a nudge or are you aiming for chill bumps? Is the story serious and bittersweet or a satirical exposé?

1. Tone can be formal or informal, light or dark, grave or comic, impersonal or personal, subdued or passionate, reasonable or irrational, plain or ornate.

The narrator can be cynical, sarcastic, sweet, or funny. A satirical and caustic tone plays well in a dark Comedy. It won't play well in a cozy Mystery.

2. Tone should suit genre.

Are you writing a shallow Chick Lit comedy or a dark and mysterious Gothic novel? If you write a mixed genre, the tone should match the genre that takes precedence over the other.

If you are writing a funny romance, you have to decide if you want your reader to belly laugh her way through it or have a few moments that make her belly laugh while worrying about the outcome of the relationship. Some Romance fans love a frothy, light tone. Others prefer the melodramatic tone of Historical Romance. Yet another prefers a heart-wrenching Literary love story.

Some paranormal stories are eerie and set an ominous tone. Light Horror feels almost comic to the reader. Readers who prefer ominous, creepy paranormal might not enjoy the comical version.

3. Tone is demonstrated by word choice and the way you reveal the details.

It informs the narrator's attitude toward the characters and the situation through his interior narration, his actions, and his dialogue. If he does not take the characters or situation seriously, the reader won't either. Word choice, syntax, imagery, sensory cues, level of detail, depth of information, and metaphors reveal tone.

4. Tone is not the same as voice.

Stephen King writes horror. His voice is distinct. At times he employs quirky, adolescent boy humor (his voice), but his aim is to chill you and his quips impart comic relief in a sinister story world. Being heavy-handed with the humor can ruin a good horror story, even turn it into parody.

5. Tone is not the same as mood.

Tone is how the author/narrator approaches the scene. Mood is the atmosphere you set for the scene. If you are writing a mystery, a scene can be brooding and dark leading up to the sleuth finding the body. The mood can lighten as the detectives indulge in a moment of gallows humor. Tone defines your overall mystery as wisecracking noir or cozy British as they solve the crime.

6. Tone is not the same as style.

Style reflects the author or narrator's voice. It is also revealed through sentence structure, use of literary devices, rhythm, jargon, slang, and accents. Style is revealed through dialogue. Style showcases the background and education of the characters. It expresses the cast's belief system, opinions, likes, and dislikes. It is controlled by what the characters say and how they say it. Tone is revealed by the narrator's perceptions, what he chooses to explore, and what he chooses to hide.

Stay tuned for examples of tone next week.

For these and other tips on revision, pick up a copy of: 




A few of my favorite things, too

I made a list of my favorite things for 2014, checked it twice, and realized there are a few more that deserved a nod to tempt the lovers of gothic or historical mystery. They have solid construction, fun characters, and enjoyable story worlds.

1. Anna Lee Huber's The Lady Darby series is historical mystery with a dash of romance. Artist Kiera was married to an older anatomist and forced to illustrate his gruesome dissections. The series follows the widowed Kiera as she assists the handsome Sebastian Gage in investigations, offering insights based on her unsusual education.


http://www.amazon.com/Anna-Lee-Huber/e/B007G2ODGM/


2. Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily series.

The dashing Lady Emily must first solve the murder of her husband and so begins her detecting career with the fascinating Colin Hargreaves.



http://www.amazon.com/Tasha-Alexander/e/B001H9XR12/

3. Jaqueline Lapore's gothic meets vampire slayer series.

Emma Andrews learns that she is a dhampir, destined to fight vampires, along with the dashing Valerian Fox. So far, there are only two in this series. I truly hope there will be more.




http://www.amazon.com/Jacqueline-Lepore/e/B002IYV6XQ/

4. Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Gray series.

When her husband dies mysteriously, Lady Julia is forced to rely on the services of the mysterious Nicholas Brisbane to uncover the killer.


http://www.amazon.com/Deanna-Raybourn/e/B001H6IPEY/

5. Ariana Franklin's "Mistress of the Art of Death" series follows  Adelia, a 12th century female pathologist, fighting medieval crime and speaking for victims who otherwise would have been forgotten. Alas, the beloved author, aka Diana Norman, has passed from this realm so the series is at an end. But the author left many other works for us to enjoy.



These series combine several of my favorite elements: mystery, history, gothic, and paranormal. If you've discovered books in this realm (very light on the romance layer) let me know in the comments.

Winter is the best time to curl up with a warm beverage and a good book. Happy reading.

A Few of My Favorite Things

There is nothing I love more than finding a new author who blows my socks off and keeps me up reading well past my bedtime.

With Christmas on the way, I'll tempt you with a list of my favorite finds from 2014:

1. Susan Kaye Quinn: Third Daughter, Second Daughter, and First Daughter.

A bollywood steampunk trilogy, how is that for a combination? I enjoyed the world-building, interesting plot lines, and delicious descriptions.


I enjoyed Quinn's other series: The Mindjack Trilogy, a dystopian YA set in Chicago. In a world where everyone can read minds, how do you fight back?





And the Debt Collector serial: Time is a commodity, have you earned yours or is it time to collect?



A second Debt Collector series will be completed December 15.


http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Kaye-Quinn/e/B003TTJRXU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1412965562&sr=8-2-ent

2. Brenna Yovanoff: The Replacement, The Space Between, Paper Valentine, and Fiendish. Her stories are modern-day fables reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm. The plots are slight, but her glorious use of language and description makes up for them. Paper Valentine was my least favorite. The other three I could not put down.



http://www.amazon.com/Brenna-Yovanoff/e/B003VKZBT6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1412965242&sr=8-2-ent

3. A. R. Kahler: The Immortal Circus Trilogy

This circus performer has terrific world-building and delightful wordsmithery. Queen Mab runs a circus and it is a hell of a show. This is a trilogy I will never forget.



He is working on a new series: The Hunted.

http://www.amazon.com/A.-R.-Kahler/e/B006N8JB12/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1412965992&sr=8-2-ent

I can't wait to see what 2015 will serve up. More yummies please! If you've discovered an exciting new voice, let me know in the comments (no blantant self-promo please - this is a time to pay forward).


Narative Summary


There is an art to narrative summary. Ideally the information should be related through the point of view character's lens, not an info dump, like this:

The city was founded in 1779 by tea and sugar plantation owners who commissioned elaborate mansions on top of the hill with a view of the inlet that was large enough to dock their ships. Small villages soon cropped up along the periphery to house the tradesmen needed to service their needs. Over the centuries, the spaces between were filled until it became a crowded, mish-mash of squalor and grandeur.

This passage provides the information, but dully and through the prism of the writer, not the character. 

Info dumps are often found in prologues, epilogues, summaries of what happened in previous books, long dialogue passages, as you know dialogue, long explanations of how things work, and extensive backstory.

Here are a few examples of how to use narrative summary effectively.

1. Narrative summary helps you skip ahead.

Sometimes you have to provide important background, condense time, and relate events that don't deserve a lot of page time through narrative summary. 

The call came at five o'clock on a Saturday. Dick never forgot the pitch of the sun through the pines or the way his boots sank in the mud as he arrived at a scene to view his first corpse. After fifteen years, he'd seen so many bodies, in myriad locations,and every season.He no longer got the shakes, or the sicks, or the rapid pulse, but the scent of pine, dirt, and dying heat still filled his nostrils when he received a summons. Funny how some things stuck. He snapped on gloves and booties before ducking under the yellow tape blocking a snow-drenched alleyway in the heart of downtown Chicago. "What've we got?" 

Narrative skips over the boring bits. Shift it into real-time when possible, particularly if you find paragraphs of it. Use specific details and strong word choices.

1) Narrative summary can offer new information or recap necessary information. 

It should support, extend, or refute the information given through dialogue and action. It can add context in a timely fashion and set up expectation. It uses a few words that work hard and lead into or trail action and dialogue. If narrative runs on for paragraphs or pages, you have some editing to do.

The carpet fibers were a dead end: could have come from any low-rent apartment anywhere in town. The call-ins were a bunch of attention-seeking loonies. No legitimate suspects. No obvious motive. No one seemed to know anything about Jane. That was the problem these days: everyone had bloody telephones and computers and social media but never talked to their neighbors. Jane worked from home and played games with virtual friends. She ordered everything online or shopped at big box stores where everyone was strange and a stranger. There were no angles to grab hold of. Who would kill a girl who never seemed to leave her flat? But girls didn't just drag themselves into the woods, cover themselves with debris, and choke themselves with their own pantyhose.

2. Narrative transitions between scenes.

Dick skipped the shower and shave and was at the crime scene by nine thirty. He stood next to the corpse lying on the ground who obviously hadn’t shaved in days either and the bath in the river hadn’t done him any favors.

3. Narrative wrinkles time.

Four days sped by in a series of dead leads and dull conversations. Dick tackled the stacks of paperwork he had successfully ignored for a month, drank gallons of coffee, and smoked endless packs of cigarettes. His anxiety grew like a bonfire as he waited for the DNA results.


Revision Tips
? Read through your manuscript. Highlight areas that contain narrative. Decide whether you should turn narrative into action and dialogue. If not, is it serving a distinct purpose? Does it support, extend, add to, or refute a proposition? Does it condense time or provide important background?
? Does it involve tertiary characters or actions that are of lesser importance?
? Does it involve clichés?
? Have you told the reader what someone thinks or feels instead of showing it?

For more revision tips on revision and narrative summary check out.

Sound Effects

Imagine watching a movie with no sound effects. It would not be satisfying.

You, the author, are the sound effects creator and sound mixer for your verbal movie.

Rhetorical devices and sentence structure add rhythm and emphasis to your prose, but there is also the task of decsribing the sounds in your setting.

You must decide when to add them and which words to use.

Onomatopoeia is the rhetorical device that provides sound words such as: whine, chirp, buzz, roar, clatter, clank, harrumph, giggle, guffaw, chortle, snort, twang, thwack, ring, clang, boing, knock, screech, hoot, bay, and bark.

Sound effect words are often used in conjunction with a simile or metaphor: The seal opened quickly with a pop like a champagne cork.

Building a sound track is more than using sound words; it is using them in clever, memorable ways.

1) For every scene, choose a location. We all make sounds: people, animals, nature, machines. Every location on the planet has its own unique blend of noises. If it is an actual place, even if you can't go there, you can usually find a video of it. If it is a made-up place, then your imagination can fill in the details. There will be background noises: ticking of clocks, rattling of train tracks, and shush of the ocean. Use sounds to set the scene.

Orient yourself in the scene. Close your eyes. Listen. What do you hear? What it is important for your reader and character to hear? Why?

2) Use sounds to define characters. 

Does the character constantly snuffle, cough, clear his throat? Do her high heels echo on the tile floor?

How is the character feeling in the scene? What noise might he make if surprised, hurt, angry, shocked? How can you use sound words to emphasize the moment?

Is the character calm, tapping the table out of anxiety, or groaning in agony? What does the scene call for?

3) Story Building Blocks III contains a list of sound words. Add your favorite bugaboos. In the final revision passes, do a search for specific words using [Control] [F] or Find, or read through your manuscript and highlight the words.

Have you used each word more than a few times?

Can you change them or use them in an unusual way?

Is the sound necessary? Does it add something to the sentence? If not, cut it.

4) Avoid purple prose.

Romantic scenes and fight scenes are danger zones for clichéd sound effects: smacks, slurps, sighs, groans, slap, oomph. 

There are only so many sounds a person can make, but there are pedestrian and master craft ways of utilizing them.

A beginner writer reaches for common sound words and uses them literally.

A master craftsman transforms common sound words into passages with a visceral effect.

Here are a few examples from one of my favorite writers, Tana French, and her new release The Secret Place:

She shut the interview room door behind us, flick of her wrist and a slam.

The music has turned into a distant hysterical pounding and shrieking, like someone has a tiny Rihanna locked in a box.

The night is thick with clouds and cold; they have to grope their way down the paths to the grove, wincing each time a branch twangs or a clump of leaves crunches.

In the darkness they're just a trail of rustle and laughter, sweeping a circle around the edge of the clearing.

A wisp of a laugh, a frail thing, lost, drifting between the slick posters and the make-up smeared tissues. Not a laugh she'd learned off some reality star and practiced; just her, missing that day. Here was why she needed to see Selena and Chris through a dirty snicker and a gagging noise. That was the only way she could stand to look.

For the list of sound words and more revision tips, check out:



Trolls & the NYT Bestsellers

What do trolls and the New York Times bestseller list have in common?


More than you might think.

It is often stated that bullies act out of a lack of self-esteem. But it is postulated that the opposite is also true: early humans that were good at convincing others of their superiority were perched at the top of the social hierarchy and demeaned others to keep their lofty position. Their followers aped their behavior and adopted their opinions.

Malicious internet trolls tend to be narcissistic, perhaps sociopathic. They need to lash out at other people to make themselves feel better. They usually rely on the cloak of anonymity, but not always. Superstars can be just as guilty.

They know that participants tend to conform to the rules and mindset of the bullies. 
A highly dysfunctional troll can start an attack with stealth with no fear of real reprisal, unless they accidentally target a master hacker who is capable of coming after them with a return cyber-attack. They do this certain that they will gain followers.


If you know such a hacker, I'd like his/her number.

The problem is, people who would never consider themselves bullies, who would never intentionally hurt others, can be drawn into the fray. They may agree with the troll's position, not necessarily the way it was expressed. The troll could be a friend (virtual or real), a relative, or a coworker, but acquaintance is not necessary to gain support. People jump in for myriad reasons.

The opposite of the troll is the cooing elf. Positive posters are motivated by the same phenomena. When the top “elf” loves something, others rush in with praise in their desire to be part of the “in” group. Elves also adopt the opinions and behaviors of their leader.

That is how books that are inherently flawed and barely readable can rise to the top of the NYT bestseller list.

When an elf is attacked by a troll, the battle becomes a free-for-all, dragging in totally innocent bystanders. You end up with a gallows mentality. A faction of the population enjoys a good show, particularly a gruesome one. It is why crowds gather to cheer on combatants when a fight breaks out.


                            But the positive review elves don’t cause any harm, right?

On the contrary, rewarding bad behavior or false praise can be just as toxic as trolling. If friends, family, or total strangers who have never read the book jump in with five-star ratings, it skews public opinion. 

Is there a solution to this problem? 

Not entirely, but there are steps we can take.

It would be nearly impossible to eliminate the cloak of anonymity offered by a virtual world, but attempts are being made to discourage trolls. An administrator can take down any post they consider inappropriate, but how do they decide which posts are “appropriate?” It’s a thin line between abuse and freedom of opinion. You can report abusive messages or direct threats from a troll. The administrators can block the accounts, but that doesn’t keep the troll from assuming a new identity.

If the situation gets stressful, quickest and easiest way to cope is to unplug and refuse to engage. Bullies get bored when they no longer get a rise out of you. You may be tempted to delete your social media accounts. However, authors are encouraged to have a social media presence to market their work, so removing your online presence isn't the best option. Either way, you'll have a hard time getting the troll war erased on review sites. You may need to take a break for a while, until you no longer feel the need to throttle someone.

As for society as a whole, we could aim for higher standards of online behavior:

We can teach our kids (or students) to think for themselves and to consider very carefully before they post anything online.
Stop laughing.

We can teach them to never post a review until they can display a sufficient grasp of the language.
Please, for the love of literacy.

We can encourage civil discourse in all public arenas: the internet, television, radio, the printed press, congress.
I see your smirk.

We can encourage journalistic and reviewer integrity.

I can hear you howling.

We can stop "trading" or writing reviews for books we've never read or refuse to pay for fake reviews and social media "likes." You may mean well, but you are enabling and harming the integrity of the process.

Don't bother sending hate mail.

Short of rewiring human nature, there is no simple solution. We can only change one person's character at a time: our own.

Interjections

Interjections are exclamations or parenthetical words that add color to your dialogue or internal dialogue. They are set off from the rest of the sentence with a comma or set of commas. They can be followed by an exclamation point. However, if the sentence is doing its job, you shouldn't need it.

Interjections express a gamut of emotions: surprise, doubt, fear, anger, hate, happiness, joy, glee, disgust, or sarcasm. They insult, incite, and ignite.

Here are a few examples (minus profanity, which is another topic).

All right
Cool
Far out
As if
Yeh, right
Dig it
Yo
Fair enough
Ouch
Dang it
For real?
Duh
No way
Sure
Yay
Whoot
Hilarious
Screw it
Drat
Yes
Lord have mercy
Meh
Cheers
Ciao
Oops
Oy
Touche
Big whoop
Nope
Nada

My YA series Mythikas Island was set in pre-written-history Greece. Not being able to reach for any of the usual curse words, insults, etc. felt like wearing a straight jacket. I ended up typing *insert insult/curse here* and developing a list of options later.

Here are a few tips when revising:

1.  As you go through your rough draft, it is okay to insert placeholders and fill them in later. You may want to put some thought into the types of insults and interjections you characters will use.

2. It is important that the interjections fit the time and place in a historical novel. Look up the first time your word or phrase was used. Nitpickers love to point out errors.

3. When you write fantasy or science fiction, developing unique interjections helps your story world come alive.

4. Avoid overuse. Strings of expletives or exclamation points are annoying. As you read through your rough draft, highlight the interjections. If you have too many packed together, space them out.

5. You can make them character specific. People living in the same place and time with little exposure to the outside world tend to use the same vocabulary. However, each character can have their favorites or quirks.

6. If you have a diverse cast, each can have their own set of interjections, perhaps in different langauges. Avoid stereotypes. 

7. Avoid clichés . You can twist existing interjections in new ways. 

8. Interjections change as time passes. There is no way to avoid dating your book with them.

9. You can't cut them all. Your story would be lackluster without a few strategically placed verbal punches.

10. They can be used for comic relief. Sometimes after a tense moment, you need a little levity.

If you invent unique injterjections, they may become part of our language or at least the language of your fans. They may even be added to the dictionary. You could be the author of a new catchphrase.

For more information on revision, pick up a copy of:

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision/dp/1475011369

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision-ebook/dp/B007SPPL68


Revising Rhetorical Devices

Rhetorical devices are rich, fragrant, heady flavors. In cooking, a talented chef knows the right amount to add and what dishes a spice complements.

Writing rhetorical devices takes the same deft hand. As with compound or cumulative sentences, the rhetorical devices should be placed with precision and intention. They should be used at a moment requiring poignancy, pathos, joy, fear, tension or horror. The bulk of your construction should be simple and compound sentences. If not, your devices become so overwhelming, you reader chokes on them.

As you read through each chapter, underline rhetorical devices you have already inserted.

1) Is it in the right place for emphasis or placed there accidentally?  Make sure the rhetorical devices make the most impact. Take out the ones that distract at the wrong moment.

2) Highlight or circle the stress points of your chapter or scene. What does the moment call for? Which rhetorical device would best service that moment? 

3) Is it strong? Can it be strengthened?

4) Is the device overused or cliché abuse? 

5) Is it formatted correctly?

6) Does the rhetorical device add to the meaning of the moment? They should contain surprises, depth, twists, and punches.


You many never remember the titles of the devices, but keeping this list and consciously excavating your manuscript for them or sprinkling them in will lift you to master class writer.


Spicing Up Your Prose Part 6 of 6

Over the past few weeks, we have explored an exotic array of language spices starting with A. This week, we complete the collection with Z.


Simile compares two different things that are similar to each other using like and as. They often border on cliché. A hidden simile does not use like or as.

Jane curled up on the couch like a satisfied cat licking her lips.

Jane curled up on the couch, a satisfied cat licking her lips. (hidden)

Symploce uses anaphora and epistrophe in the same sentence or paragraph. It should appear once or twice in a manuscript for maximum impact and emotion.

Dick should have walked away. He should have put the diary down. He should never have read the shocking words. Jane had charmed him, confused him, and consumed him.

Synecdoche uses part of something to refer to the whole, a whole thing to refer to a part, a specific thing to refer to a generality, or a generality to refer to a specific thing. It is referring to a car as wheels, workers as hands, eyewear as glasses, and bandages as Band-Aids.

When it came to books, Jane preferred paper over plastic.

Tricolon repeats phrases, clauses, or sentences three times. If the phrases, clauses, or sentences increase in length with each repetition, it is called a tricolon crescendo.

It was a dark, dark, dark moment for them both.

The book was old, old and faded, old enough to be dangerous.

Zeugma ends a sentence with a last word or clause that doesn't fit in with the proposition. It offers a twist. It should end a paragraph for maximum effect.

Jane left with her book, her suitcase, and her pride.

Jane needed him and wanted him and wished him dead.

Next week, we will talk about how to use them and revise for them.

For the complete list of spices and other revision layers, pick up a copy of: 

Spicing Up Your Prose Part 5 of 6

This week, we continue to add to our collection of rhetorical devices.


Polysyndeton uses conjunctions to string phrases in a series.

The library was dim and overly warm and full of sneaky shadows.

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail would keep Dick from finding Jane.

Polyptoton repeats words from the same root but with different inflections appearing in close proximity.

Dick believed the only thing they had to fear was fearlessness.

Prefabs can be used to create two and three beat rhythms to speed the sentence up. They include, but are not limited to:


  • boom and bust
  • bump and grind
  • daily double
  • doom and gloom
  • ebb and flow
  • eager beaver
  • fixer-upper
  • flimflam
  • flip-flop
  • harum-scarum
  • helter-skelter
  • herky-jerky
  • hip-hop
  • hotsy-totsy
  • hour of power
  • hurly-burly
  • itsy-bitsy
  • lean and mean
  • meet and greet
  • moldy oldie
  • namby-pamby
  • near and dear
  • oopsy daisy
  • razzle-dazzle
  • rinky dink
  • rise and fall
  • rough and ready
  • rough and tough
  • rough and tumble
  • shilly-shally
  • splish-splash
  • super-duper
  • super-saver
  • surf and turf
  • teenie-weenie
  • thrills and chills
  • tit for tat
  • topsy-turvy
  • town and gown
  • wear and tear
  • wheeler-dealer
  • whipper-snapper
  • wild and wooly
  • wishy-washy
  • zigzag

Next week, we will contine adding spices to your prose shelf.

For the complete list of spices and other revision layers, pick up a copy of: