Hi, I'm Ray Evans. I'm a certified copyeditor and proofreader.
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Listen, folks, if you're gonna write a novel, you better make sure you're setting the bait in that first
chapter, okay? You've got to hook those readers like a hungry catfish on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and
you want to reel them in with the finesse of Ernest Hemingway (sans beard, of course).
So here's the deal, buckaroo. I'm going to dish out the secret sauce that'll have your readers hooked
faster than you can say "William Shakespeare on a pogo stick."
Now let's get down to brass tacks, or in this case, brass quills, and explore some techniques that'll grab
your reader's attention and keep 'em turning those pages like a crack addict flipping through a
1: Start with a bang or an intriguing question – or both!
Hey, you know what people love?
A good mystery.
You want to get your readers curious, like a group of meddling kids and their talking Great Dane,
so hit 'em with a question right off the bat.
Or, better yet, give them an opening line that makes them sit up straighter than
a monk in a yoga class.
Just make sure you're not starting off with a whimper like a sad trombone solo, got it?
2: Create a vivid setting that's as tantalizing as tiramisu
Look, people want to be transported to new worlds, and that's where you come in,
Mr. or Ms. Author.
You've got to build a setting that's so immersive, it's like dropping your reader into a virtual reality
headset, and they're walking through the streets of your world with a Starbucks venti latte in hand.
I'm talking full-on, technicolor, surround sound, HD settings here. Give them a world to get lost in, and
they'll follow you to the ends of the earth, or at least the end of the book.
3: Introduce compelling characters who could teach charisma to a cardboard cutout
Characters! They're the lifeblood of your novel, and you want to create the kind of people who
could charm the pants off a snake. Make 'em bold, make 'em interesting, and make 'em
as multi-faceted as a psychedelic disco ball.
Readers want characters they can love, hate, and love to hate.
So develop those bad boys and girls like an old-school Polaroid photo – with depth and nuance, and
not like a pixelated mess you'd find on a first-gen iPhone camera.
Numero Cuatro: Don't bury the lead like a bone in a dog park
I cannot emphasize this enough: You have to let your readers know what the stakes
are from the get-go, okay? Give them a reason to care about the story you're spinning,
or else they'll be more disinterested than a cat in a bathtub.
Make it clear what's at stake, and why they should invest their time and emotional
energy into the tale you're weaving.
So, there you have it, my literary virtuosos!
Follow these Ray Evans-approved tips, and your readers will be more hooked than
a pirate's hand at a fishing convention.
Good luck with your novel, and remember – write like the wind, and edit like a slow, methodical
tortoise on a caffeine binge.
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Alright, folks, gather 'round the grammatical campfire as we dive headfirst into the turbulent waters
of nouns, those essential, often elusive, little buggers that make up the very fabric of our stories. Like
an intrepid explorer navigating treacherous terrain, we're going to traverse the various species of
nouns, dodge the perils of repetition, and emerge victorious in the quest to make our nouns the
workhorses of our writing.
First, let's start with the basic rundown. Nouns are the unsung heroes of our stories, the building
blocks of our sentences. They play the role of characters, settings, and sometimes even emotions.
Now, it's time to put on our adventure gear and dig deeper into this multifaceted beast that is the
Different Types of Nouns
We've got your proper nouns – those highfalutin, capital-letter-loving divas that demand the spotlight
– like Madonna or Las Vegas. Then there are the common nouns, just trying to make it through the
day like the rest of us; words like cat, car, or even, dare I say it, proofreader. Next up, we have abstract
nouns, which, like a great impressionist painting, are tough to pin down, but bring meaning to our
lives with concepts like love, freedom, and frustration. Last but not least, we have the collective nouns
– those all-inclusive group-huggers that bring us the much-needed satisfaction of classifying a
murder of crows or a parliament of owls.
Spice it up!
Now, onto the big issue of repetition. We've all seen it – the same tired noun popping up like an
unwanted guest, again and again, until the reader is ready to throw the book across the room.
Avoiding repetition is like playing a high-stakes game of Whac-A-Mole; you've got to be quick, you've
got to be agile, and you've got to be inventive. Time to enlist the help of our dear friend, the thesaurus
– a veritable treasure trove of synonyms just waiting to add some pizzazz to your prose.
But beware, intrepid writers, there's a fine line between creative word choice and synonym overkill.
You don't want your prose to read like it was written by a loquacious sesquipedalian with a penchant
for purple prose. Instead, strike a balance that makes your writing sing without alienating your
readers. Keep 'em on their toes, but don't send 'em running for the dictionary.
Nouns: Your Story's Secret Weapon
Let's talk about making nouns work for you, rather than against you. To create stronger characters, let
your nouns reveal their quirks and desires. Consider the difference between a "woman" and a
"sommelier with a predilection for 80s synth-pop." One piques the interest, the other just... well, exists.
As for settings, make your nouns sing the song of your world. Don't just throw your characters in a
"town" – let them inhabit a "foggy hamlet nestled in a sprawling valley of wind-tousled pines."
Breathe life into your setting with evocative nouns, and your readers will be hooked.
In conclusion, nouns are the sturdy scaffolding that holds up our fictional worlds. If you want your
prose to have more panache than a pompadour at an Elvis convention, learn to navigate nouns like a
seasoned pro. Avoid repetition, dig deep into your linguistic treasure chest, and you'll be well on your
way to making your writing stand out like a neon sign on a moonless night.
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Ah, the alluring allure of adjectives and adverbs - like toppings on a pizza or accessories on a
celebrity! They’re as necessary as underwear, yet sometimes, just as uncomfortable. But don't fret, my
literary lovelies, for today we embark on a journey to master these pesky word ninjas and add some
pizzazz to your prose!
First, let's define our posse of parts of speech. Adjectives: those descriptive divas that modify nouns,
making them more specific and snazzy. Adverbs: the sneaky sidekicks that tweak verbs, adjectives, or
even other adverbs, adding nuance like a well-placed scarf or a sassy fedora.
But beware! When unleashed without restraint, these rascals can quickly turn a sleek, simple
sentence into a Mardi Gras parade of verbosity. So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of curating your very
own adjective and adverb wardrobe. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
Choose Wisely, Young Grasshopper
Just like your outfits (well, most of them), not all adjectives and adverbs are created equal. Aim for the
ones that pack a punch - the little black dress or the tailored suit of the word world. Seek specificity
and steer clear of fluff. Instead of "very big," go for "colossal" or "immense." Give the reader an HD
image, not a pixelated Polaroid from the 80s.
Less Is More,
In writing, as in life, moderation is key. Nobody likes a showoff who slaps on a gallon of cologne or
flaunts enough bling to blind a bat. In the same vein, don’t overload your prose with adjectives and
adverbs. The goal is to complement and enhance, not drown your writing in a sea of superfluous
Show, Don't Tell (But Sometimes, Do Tell)
"Show, don't tell" is the mantra of every writer worth their salt (and those aspiring to be worth it). Use
adjectives and adverbs to create a cinematic experience for your reader. Don't tell them the character
is sad; show them by describing the tear-streaked cheeks, the trembling lips, or the shattered
porcelain of their once-pristine poker face. But remember, sometimes the best option is to embrace
simplicity and let the verb do the heavy lifting. If your character "sprints," we can infer they’re moving
quickly, no "furiously" or "rapidly" needed.
Beware the Dastardly Double Negative
"Non" and "dis" might be tiny, but they can wreak havoc like a toddler with a marker. When using
adjectives and adverbs, don’t turn a positive into a negative, and then back into a positive. It's like
wearing stripes and polka dots together – it's just not right. "Unravel" instead of "not entangle," for
example, will save your readers from a linguistic rollercoaster.
So there you have it,
So, there you have it, my adoring adjective aficionados and audacious adverb admirers! By choosing
wisely, practicing restraint, showing (and sometimes telling), and avoiding those dastardly double
negatives, your writing will positively sparkle like a disco ball of delight. And remember, as you
sashay down the literary runway, a well-placed adjective or adverb can make all the difference.
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Ladies and gentlemen, gather 'round, because today we're going to dive into the thrilling world of...
wait for it... verbs! I know, I know, you're on the edge of your seat, but try to contain your excitement.
You might just learn how to make your writing more dynamic, engaging, and so awe-inspiring,
readers won't be able to put your book down.
Now, let's start by discussing verb tense.
I mean, who doesn't love discussing the past, present, and future? It's like a high school reunion, but
for your verbs. Your verb tense sets the stage for your story, determining whether your readers feel
like they're right there in the action or listening to grandpa's tale about walking uphill both ways in
Are you writing about something that happened back when bell-bottoms were in style? Use the past
tense! Need to describe a present situation, like the feeling of sweet relief when the barista finally calls
your name for that triple-shot espresso? Present tense is your ticket. And if you want to transport your
reader to a utopian future where automated robots have taken over proofreading (gasp!), the future
tense will be your trusty companion.
The age-old battle between active and passive voice.
Now, let's tackle the age-old battle between active and passive voice.
In one corner, we have the active voice – the Chuck Norris of sentence construction, kicking butt and
taking names with its direct, forceful action.
The passive voice, on the other hand, sits in the shadows, quietly weaving its web of ambiguity like a
But you know what? Even the passive voice has its place in the world, just like a well-timed dad joke
at the dinner table. The key is knowing when to unleash the action hero or employ the subtle
For example, let's say you're writing a gripping thriller. Which sentence hits you harder: "The spy
chased the villain through the streets" or "The villain was chased through the streets by the spy"? If
you picked the first one, congratulations! You've just experienced the adrenaline rush of the active
If you're ever doing self-editing and unsure if you're using active or passive voice, you can just apply
the zombie test below to figure it out quickly! ⏬
Now that we've covered the basics, let's dive into some verb-boosting tips and tricks that will turn your writing into a literary fireworks display.
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Ah, the humble comma, the unsung hero of punctuation. Or is it the bane of a writer's existence? I can never remember which. But either way, if you're a fiction writer, you're bound to encounter this squiggly little line that's always ready to leap into action, saving your readers from the dreaded wall of text. So, without further ado, let's explore some tips for mastering the mighty comma and improving the flow and clarity of your writing.
The Mischievous Comma: Splicing Sentences
Much like a mischievous imp that sneaks around splicing sentences, the comma splice is a common error in writing. It occurs when two independent clauses are joined with just a comma, and not a coordinating conjunction. Just remember that if your clauses can stand on their own, they deserve more than a comma between them. Give 'em a little something extra – a semicolon, a period, or at the very least, a coordinating conjunction like "and" or "but."
The comma is a master of the dance floor when it comes to dialogue. Think of it as the punctuation
cha-cha partner to quotation marks. When you're writing dialogue, commas are necessary for
marking the end of a statement, question, or exclamation before a dialogue tag. Make sure the comma
is inside the quotation marks, or it'll be left without a dance partner, and nobody wants that.
The only exception to this is when the quoted material ends is an interrogative sentence:
Example : "Who stole my nachos?" he demanded, glaring around the room.
Oxford Comma: A Punctuation Controversy
The Oxford comma – or the serial comma, as it's known to its fans – is the comma used immediately
before the coordinating conjunction (usually "and" or "or") when listing three or more items. Some
people love it, some people hate it, but either way, it's got a loyal following that would rival the latest
boy band craze.
For clarity's sake, I'm pro-Oxford comma, but you should pick a side and stick to it. Consistency is key
in punctuation, much like a good punchline.
The Comma is a Clause Whisperer
Like a skilled animal trainer, the comma is excellent at wrangling independent and dependent
clauses. When a dependent clause comes before an independent one, use a comma after the
dependent clause to separate the two. However, if the independent clause comes first, no comma is
needed. See? It's like magic – the kind that's performed by a street magician in Times Square at
Example: Because she couldn't find her keys, Lucy was late for work.
Pausing for Effect
Have you ever listened to a story and thought, "Wow, this could really use a dramatic pause"? That's
what commas do in writing. They let your reader take a little breather, allowing them to fully absorb
the impact of your words. However, don't overdo it – too many commas can leave your readers
gasping for air.
remember that the comma is like the drummer of the punctuation band, keeping the rhythm and flow
of your writing smooth and groovy. With practice and a little help from these tips, you'll become a
comma connoisseur in no time. And who knows? You might even end up with groupies lining up to
ask you about the Oxford comma debate.
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We all know how much I love fiction, and I'm here to give you some tips that are going to blow your
minds! Or, at the very least, teach you how to write a fantastic ending to your stories. Buckle up,
because here we go!
Tie up those loose ends, but not too tight!
You know what really grinds my gears? When a story leaves loose ends dangling like yesterday's
laundry. It's irritating! So, be sure to wrap up those plot points, but remember: don't make it too neat.
Life's messy, so let your story's conclusion reflect that. A little ambiguity never hurt anyone, right?
Give your characters their just desserts.
I'm not saying you should reward the good guys and punish the baddies (although that's always a
crowd-pleaser). What I mean is: give your characters an ending that feels true to their journey. But
please, for the love of all that's holy, don't let them drone on about their emotions for five pages.
Nobody has time for that.
A twist? Yes, but only if it makes sense.
Nothing spices up a story like a good twist, but a twist for the sake of a twist is just...well, twisted.
Make sure it's properly foreshadowed and doesn't feel like you pulled it out of thin air. The last thing
you want is a reader saying, "Oh, come on! Really?!"
Avoid the ol' deus ex machina.
Listen, I get it. You've written yourself into a corner, and you don't know how to get out. But please,
resist the urge to have a magical solution just "happen" to solve everything. Your readers will roll their
eyes so hard they'll see their own brain cells.
Bring it back to the beginning.
You know what's satisfying? When a story comes full circle. Have a callback to something from the
beginning of your tale, maybe a symbol or an event. But don't be too obvious about it. Subtlety is key,
Evoke emotion, but don't overdo it.
If your reader doesn't feel anything at the end of your story, well, you've done something wrong. That
being said, don't force the emotions. Let your characters and the story do the talking. Or else you risk
coming off as a melodramatic mess. And trust me, no one wants that.
End with a bang, not a whimper.
Lastly, make sure your ending has impact. It doesn't have to be an explosion, but it should leave a
lasting impression on your reader. If they close your book with a shrug, well, you might want to
rethink that conclusion.
And there you have it! Seven tips to create a memorable and satisfying ending to your story. Follow
these, and you'll have your readers clamoring for more. Or at least not throwing your book across the
room in frustration. That's a win in my book!
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I don't wanna go off on a rant here, but when it comes to storytelling, it's not just about the characters
or the plot. Oh no, it's about the setting too, like adding the perfect dash of paprika* to your grandma's
goulash. Now let's sink our teeth into this tantalizing topic and discuss the importance of setting in
your story and how to bring it to life – because, my friend, no one wants their readers to feel like
they're wandering aimlessly in a poorly sketched out world like some half-drunk Magellan.
First up, Know Your World Like the Back of Your Hand, or better yet, like the back of George Costanza's head.
It doesn't matter if your story takes place in the Serengeti or on Mars, or even in a bizarre alternate
universe where people brush their teeth with mayonnaise instead of toothpaste. Just make sure you
understand every nook and cranny, and that you can accurately convey it to your readers. Otherwise,
your masterpiece might end up like a Picasso painted with a blindfold on.
Ah, yes, Show, Don't Tell.
You've heard it a thousand times, but it's as true as the fact that getting a paper cut from a parking
ticket is the most infuriating thing ever. Describe your settings in vivid detail so that readers can
visualize the world you've created – unless you want them to feel like they're trudging through a
foggy moor in desperate search of an exit, like they're stuck in a never-ending, miserable game of
Now, Use All Five Senses
Like a spider monkey in a sensory deprivation tank. Don't just rely on sight; mix it up! Show your
characters shivering from the cold, or mention the tantalizing aroma wafting from a street vendor.
Dive into the taste of a freshly brewed cup of coffee or the sound of rustling leaves in the breeze. This
is your chance to create an immersive experience so that your readers can taste, smell, hear, and feel
every bit of your literary masterpiece.
Incorporate Setting into Dialogue like Shakespeare on a Red Bull.
Your characters' conversations should reflect their surroundings, whether it's complaining about the
unbearable heat of a desert or discussing the finer points of fishing in the Arctic. This not only helps
set the scene but also makes your dialogue more dynamic and engaging, ensuring your readers never
feel like they're stuck in a snooze-worthy symposium with Ben Stein.
Lastly, Remember that Less Can Be More
Like a pint-sized Yoda dispensing sage advice. It's tempting to describe every blade of grass, but you
don't want to overwhelm your readers with details either. Strike a balance between giving them a
sense of the world and letting their imaginations run wild. If you get it just right, your story will feel
as satisfying as cracking open a pistachio without breaking a nail.
And that's it, folks – the Cliff's Notes to creating a setting that's as vivid as the neon lights of Vegas
and as engaging as a game of Twister at a nudist colony. Remember to consider the importance of
setting in your story, and bring it to life by knowing your world, showing not telling, using all five
senses, incorporating setting into dialogue, and finding that sweet spot between too much and too
little detail. Now go forth and create worlds that'll make J.R.R. Tolkien green with envy!
*Days before writing this, I discovered that paprika is just dried and ground-up red peppers. My entire
life I assumed there was a paprika tree or paprika out there!
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Hey there, literary aficionados! It's your trusty proofreader and copyeditor here, bringing you the
ultimate lowdown on the top grammar faux pas that'll have your readers cringing faster than a decaf-
drinking beatnik in a coffeehouse poetry slam. So buckle up, word-wranglers, and let's dive into the
top 5 grammar mistakes every fiction author should avoid like a telemarketer at dinnertime.
Picture this: you're crafting an epic tale of adventure, suspense, and romance when, lo and behold,
your subject and verb are about as in sync as Milli Vanilli during a live performance. You see, subject-
verb agreement is to writing what rhythm is to music: essential. When your subject's singular, your
verb should be too; likewise for plural subjects.
For example, "The team of superheroes fights crime," not "The team of superheroes fight
crime." Remember, folks, it's all about harmony—unless you want your prose to read like a William
Shatner rendition of "Rocket Man."
Ah, homophones: the linguistic equivalent of identical twins you can't tell apart in a lineup.
These are words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings (e.g., "there," "their,"
and "they're"). Mixing them up is like mistaking George Foreman for his five sons—also named
George. Remember that "your" shows possession and "you're" is short for "you are," so writing "Your
going to love this book" is like inviting someone to a surprise party at the wrong address.
The Run-on Sentence Runaround
Ever read a sentence so long it feels like you're watching a never-ending "Lord of the Rings" director's
cut marathon? That's the run-on sentence for you. Joining two or more independent clauses without
the proper punctuation (e.g., a comma or semicolon) or conjunction is like cramming too many
clowns into a VW Beetle—it just doesn't work. Break up your clauses, and your readers won't need to
catch their breath like a chain-smoking asthmatic on a 5k run.
We'd fix the example above as follows: " You weren't home in time, so I went to the wedding by myself;
people were staring at me." Or: " You weren't home in time and I went to the wedding my myself.
People were staring at me. " Or you could fix it this way: " I want a divorce."
An Apostrophe Catastrophe
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's… the wild, unnecessary apostrophe!
Think of apostrophes as the cilantro of the punctuation world—a little goes a long way. Reserve them
for contractions (e.g., "it's" for "it is") and possessives (e.g., "Shakespeare's quill"). But remember,
they're not for plurals. Writing "I love dog's" is like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube blindfolded—you're
only going to confuse yourself and everyone around you.
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Hey, folks! Welcome to another riveting episode of, "How to Make Your Fiction Sing like Pavarotti on
Red Bull.*" Today, we're diving headfirst into the labyrinthine world of adjectives and adverbs.
Strap in, because it's about to get as wild as Keith Richards at an all-you-can-eat buffet of descriptive
1) Select the crème de la crème of adjectives and adverbs
Now, I don't want to go off on a rant here, but if you're going to use adjectives and adverbs, make sure
you're choosing the Rolls-Royce of words, not the jalopy. Do some linguistic window-shopping, and
pick the words that give your prose that million-dollar gleam. Think about it like you're dressing for
the Oscars; you wouldn't show up in a burlap sack, right? Investing a thesaurus can really help out
2) Timing is everything
Listen, gang, adjectives and adverbs are like the seasoning of your narrative soufflé. Too little, and it's
as bland as an accountant's daydream. Too much, and it's like a Tabasco-soaked habanero that sets
your readers' taste buds aflame. Use those words judiciously, so the reader can savor the subtlety of
your literary culinary masterpiece.
3) Show, Don't Tell
Remember, amigos, writing is like a grand illusion, and you're the Houdini of the printed word. Don't
spoon-feed your readers a thesaurus-worth of adjectives and adverbs. Instead, slip them into your
narrative like a card shark with a deck full of aces. Show your reader the humid, verdant jungle, don't
just tell them it's "really, really green."
4) Throttle back on repetition
The English language is a beautiful, sprawling tapestry, not some cookie-cutter assembly line.
Avoid overusing the same adjectives and adverbs as if they were the only two spices in your pantry.
Get creative, like a kid in a candy store with a pocket full of quarters, and explore the linguistic
smorgasbord that's at your fingertips.
5) Beware of "ly" adverbs
Finally, let's address the elephant in the room – the infamous "ly" adverbs. Sure, they can be enticing,
like a siren's song luring your prose onto the rocks of mediocrity. But don't be fooled. Use them
sparingly, if at all, or you'll find yourself stuck in a literary quagmire so deep you'll need a crane to pull
6) And that's all folks!
So there you have it, my literati friends – a five-step plan to make your writing sparkle like the sun on
the Côte d'Azur. Use your adjectives and adverbs wisely, and your readers will be as captivated as a
kitten with a laser pointer. Now, go forth and conquer the world of fiction with your newfound
descriptive prowess. And that's the way it is!