Top Tips for bloggers – From the original Modern Blogger

kirk the first blogger

Top Tips for bloggers

From the universe’s first modern blogger, Captain Kirk

Captain’s Log, Star date ——

Sorry, Capt. Kirk could not make it today, he’s out saving the universe. Much like toilet paper, he’s circling Uranus looking for Klingons.


There’s a few things I’ve learned about blogging. I’m by no means an expert, but I think these are some common sense tips to follow if you’re in the blogging community. Check them out and leave some of your own tips below in the comments…

1) Put a link to your blog on your gravatar page. It is not connected to your blog unless you put the link onto the page yourself. Several times in the past I wanted to visit another bloggers site and clicked on their gravatars. It led me to the gravatar page which had no link to their blog. Now how do I find them? I can’t recall all the names of the several hundred blogs I follow.

2) Blogging is a two-way street. I read a couple of your items, you read a couple of mine. Put a ‘like’ up there to let me know you’ve been there and it reminds me to check out what you’ve been posting lately.

3) Make sure others can comment without having to sign into something different. Some sites ask if you want to sign in with Facebook or Google and I don’t mind that as I already have an account with them. However, if I have to create an account with a service I don’t know, I’m not going to do it and most people won’t either. Disqus sucks! They want to access you friends list, your email list, your other accounts, and they don’t let you finish the sign up unless you agree to all of these demands. They just keep asking questions, questions, questions… I quit before finishing my sign up. There’s no reason they should access my FB friends or personal email list! At least make you blog have the ability to leave a comment with a Facebook sign-in.

4) I know everyone wants to get their own domain name, make the name famous and then sell it for loads of money. However, when you switch to your own domain you run the risk of alienating the blog-friends you’ve already made in the blogging community. Quite often people have to re-follow you in order to see your posts. Sometimes your posts don’t show up in their feed. I don’t know why this happens, but it happens often. Secondly, when people sign into their wordpress or blogger or whatever other blog service they’re using, they should be able to comment and ‘like’ from there without having to sign in again (see item 3). Thirdly, make sure your settings allow people to post comments. There’s a blog I follow that when I try to leave a comment, it tells me ‘my comment appears to be spam.’ I’ve told the moderator about this already, but they insist it’s my problem. I follow 400 blogs, I’ll just go somewhere else. It’s really not my problem at all.

5) I’ve seen it happen over and over, a blog rising in popularity switches to their own domain, has the comments section switched to a form where you have to give tons of info every time you want to comment, and they remove themselves from the community they were in, to pursue a bigger audience. Then a few months later, instead of having 25 likes per post and 20 comments, it has nothing at all. No likes, no comments. They keep posting new posts, but there’s no engagement. Eventually the blog is abandoned. They thought they were going to be the next Rotten Tomatoes, but it didn’t happen. So, before you make changes, make sure your readers are engaged enough to follow you and make it easy for them to keep following you.

6) Have your email on your ‘about’ page or on a ‘contact’ page. There may be reasons other bloggers need to contact you. They may want to invite you to guest post or ask a question away from the public eye. They may want to tell you that your comments don’t work!

Hope you find some of these tips helpful. Leave some comments and tips below 🙂

Just wanted to let you know I now have a Twitter Account


Also in case you don’t know, here’s my FB, Goodreads, and Amazon spots…

Did you know you can purchase a Captain Kirk Enterprise Chair for your own living room or den? How cool is that! only about $2,000

kirks chair 2

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Terminology

I haven’t done a post like this in a while so I figured it was due. For my aspiring writers out there here’s some basic info for getting your work published.


Do you want to be a horror fiction writer?
Getting published – Terminology


Terminology – I thought it would be a good idea to review some of the terminology that is often part of the submissions page and instruction for publications for which you want to send a story. Some of this stuff is pretty basic but it is important to know for someone starting out.
One of the big questions is what constitutes published/unpublished works.
Unpublished – unpublished work is a story that has never appeared in a public forum anywhere. That includes in any book, magazine, webzine, on the internet, on your own blog, or on a forum even if it only got five hits. Some publishers/editors will make an exception for a story that was posted in a closed group, where you have to sign-in to read the stories and is there for the purpose of critique. Writers clubs, groups, and associations all fall into that category. The idea is the general public could not read it unless they are a part of that group and would have had to sign in. Also stories in these groups are usually not searchable in search engines. I will let the publisher/editor know if my story had been posted in a literary critique group and let them decide if they consider that published or not published.
Naturally, that is the story, poem or prose that you will send in (submit) to the publication.
Call for submissions
The publications call to writers to submit work based on their guidelines. It is usually posted on their websites, on listing pages such as, Duotrope and on Facebook Open Call groups. There is often a reading window with a deadline.
is the rights that you as a writer have upon creating your story and the right to let others (publications, websites, etc.) copy the material into their media presentations.
First English Language Rights
Many publications want First English Language Rights. That is, they want to be the first to offer the story to the public for reading in English. That means they want Unpublished work. They will often want an exclusive period where they won’t want you to have the story available anywhere else for the public to read. That could be from six months to a few years.
If a call for submissions allows Reprints, that means you can send work that had been previously printed, posted, or offered in other media. Previously published works can be submitted as long as you have allowed for any exclusive time period to end.
Simultaneous Submissions
means you can send them a story or work that has also been submitted to another publication for review. Sometimes the reading periods and wait time is long for publications. If the call to submissions includes allowance for Simultaneous Submissions, you can send your story to several publications at the same time. You have the responsibility to let the other publications know immediately if your work was excepted elsewhere. Once accepted to a publication or website, in most cases, your work will be ineligible to be accepted into other publications until two things have happened; you have let the exclusivity time lapse and you resubmit the work as a reprint to publications that will accept reprints.
Multiple submissions
Means you can send more than one story, poem, or prose to the call for submissions.
Word counts
Submission calls usually have a preferred length of story. In your word program you will have to click on word count and the program will count the words. You will have to make that count clearly visible somewhere in your submission. The call will usually tell you where to put the word count. If it doesn’t, you can put it in your cover letter or directly following your tittle and byline. Everything that is separated by spaces is considered a word. ‘a’ is a word. A street or house number is a word. (215 13th Street = 3 words). An abbreviation is a word.
is your name, writing name, pseudonym and correct representation of that name. I like to be called Mike when I’m with my friends, but when my name appears in print as credit for writing a story, I like to use Michael – every time, everywhere.
Manuscript formatting
There is a standard way that your story should be formatted. However, with the advent of digital  submissions (email and form submissions), some of those rules have changed depending upon the publication. The Shunn Format was the standard for many years, but on the submissions page there may be preferences that the publications will want different. It’s best to start with the standard format and then change aspects according to special instructions.
File types
A Word document is .doc and .docx file types. However, with the Word format, depending on your computers age and Operating System, there could be difference in how your formatting looks compared to when the publisher opens the file to look at it. I prefer to save my files as .rtf documents which helps it have a uniform visual look no matter what program it is opened with. To save as an .rtf, open your story file, select SAVE AS, and then select .rtf from the drop down bar.
Author bio
Most publications would like a short Bio (biography), perhaps one paragraph about you the writer, written in third person (as if someone else had written it). They don’t want a full history of your life. Make no mistake, the author Bio is also a testament to your writing skills. Try to make it interesting and readable to someone that has no idea who you are and probably doesn’t care. You can see a sample of my BIO on my author page here: Michael Thomas-Knight, Author
Cover letter
Write a cover letter that is simple, with no frills. Just have a greeting and introduce yourself. Tell them your story title and what publication you’re submitting to. End with a thank you.
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
– Ernest Hemmingway
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”
– Edgar Rice Burroughs


Horror Fiction writer – articles and tips


Horror Fiction writer – articles and tips

During the past few years I’ve written several articles pertaining to writing fiction. The series of articles titled, “Do You Want to be a Horror Fiction Writer” deals with ideas, suggestions and tips for writing short story fiction. I’m no expert at getting published but I thought it would benefit some to relay what I learned as I advanced my position. As I gained knowledge and had some success in getting published, I relayed the information I had learned.

I’ve gathered these articles here for reference and for you to read articles you may have missed. I hope you find these tips informative.

I. Who can write good fiction?
II. The most basic aspects to a story
III. Presentation – past tense vs. present tense and POV
IV. Know your Genre
V. Point of View – variations
VI. Getting Started – write your story now
VII. Edits, rewrites and drafts
VIII. Story and Plot/conflicts
IX. Get into your character’s mind
X. Writing Flash Fiction


Related articles:
Get Them Reading and Keep Them Reading

What’s in a Name? What’s in a Title?


more to come in the future…

Websites for writers – Everything you need to become a Class-A writer!

Websites for writers
Everything you need to become a Class-A writer!

Everything you need to become a better writer is available from informative websites and blogs to help a writer achieve greater success. Here are some valuable links to check out. From inspiration to publishing, from writing to promoting, I’ve picked some recent articles for the struggling author to read and review.



Here’s a good article at Ghosts and Ghouls to jump start the imagination of horror writers. Check it out:

You should definitely check out the Monster Men pod casts on Youtube. Their latest is an interview with author, Brian Moreland, but each episode is packed with fun monster and horror talk.

Kurt Vonnegut – His thoughts on writing fiction

Open Culture – every writer should bookmark this site
Not only does this site have direct articles for writing, it has links to free online stories from many of the literary masters. Its also a valuable reference on many subjects that may pertain to your characters.




Kristen Lamb’s Blog
Kristen offers top quality articles, inspiration, coaching and mentoring to fiction writers.

Jacqui Murray is an author, columnist and teacher with some very good info for the practicing writer.

5 Harsh Truths for Writers is a great article from Cultured Vultures

A steady stream of advice and information articles for the writer can be found here:

here’s a good article I recently enjoyed:

Flynn Gray’s blog
Flynn offers tons of valuable info for writers and authors at his blog. He often posts a page much like this one, with a dozen great articles and links to them for us writers to read. Its quite probable that a few of the links posted here I discovered through Flynn’s posts. If you’re a writer, you should follow his blog!

Cemetery Tomes
My buddy Nate offers  weekly memes and graphics on writing fiction, and he’s looking for some short fiction for the winter months to post.


It may be too late to join this year but you may want to check it out for next year. If you always had an idea for a novel and have always had trouble starting it and keeping at it, joining this group will help you push yourself for a full month. See if you got what it takes to get that story down. You track your progress, get inspiration and see others going through the same struggles as you. I may actually do this next November, so I will post about it in Oct. 2016. I have resisted up to this point because I had many short story ideas that I wanted to write and have built a certain level of success with them. But, by next year, I think it will be time for me to get on with writing full novels.


Hope you find these links helpful. Anyone who is just getting into writing or who is seeking advice on getting published can feel free to send me questions. I will try and help if I can, or at least I’ll try to send you to a website with the info you seek. Mike.

writing hands 2

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Part X


Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Part X

The Secrets of Writing Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is a story form that is really short, usually from 100 to 1000 words. It is not a vignette, it is not a commentary on an event, it is a full story with a plot and conclusion. If you attempt writing some flash fiction you will find it is often harder to write good short fiction than longer works.

How I approach flash fiction writing is by breaking it into the three act story format, but I title them:


In a flash fiction piece it is important to start your story in the conflict, or very close to it. You usually don’t want to rely on back-story for flash fiction because it will eat up your word count. You might need a few sentences but keep it minimal. You’ll want to make your story be told in one scene, one location, and in one piece.

1st act – character introduction, initial conflict, dilemma
2nd act – the action the character takes to resolve the conflict or dilemma
3rd act – The results of the main character’s action to solve the conflict and the change in the situation.

Theoretically you can do this in three paragraphs.



It is important to have a great first sentence, a grabber that will get people to read your story. It should do one (or more) of three things:

– It should make the reader ask themselves a question that needs to be answered.
– It should put them in a situation that they are curious about.
– It should make them feel instant camaraderie or empathy for your main character.

The climax of the story should be at the end of the second act when the MC has taken action to solve the dilemma and the conflict is escalated to its peak. The third act should be short and bring everything back to normal, to a new normal, or to a realization of what the future of the MC will be.

Naturally, these are just guidelines and exceptions to the format always exist.


Here are a couple of opening sentences, grabbers, that I’ve used from some of my most frequently read stories on the internet:

The moment old lady Ambrose bent over to look in my basement window, I hit her in the back of the head with a hammer…
from my story Upstanding Citizen on the Carnage Conservatory

I love the dead. Their cooling flesh, pale blue tone, and relaxed muscles produce an exquisite experience within my fingers…
from my story Aberration on


Extremely short fiction can have an implied aspect to it. Much of the story can take place in your head after the story is read. Following are some examples.

The shortest stories ever written:

Ex. 1:
For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.

This two sentence piece is often attributed to Hemingway.

Ex. 2:
James woke one night in his dark bedroom with the notion that someone was in the room with him. When he reached for his glasses on the nightstand, they were placed in his hand.

Unknown author.

“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

“A short story is a different thing all together – a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.” ― Stephen King, Skeleton Crew

“You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money’s in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.”
– Larry Niven

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Part IX


Get into your character’s mind
– then put their experience in words

In order to really get into my character’s head, to experience what he/she is experiencing in my story. I will often write in first person. When writing in first person I can hear, smell, see and sense everything the character is experiencing. I can feel what they feel and relay their thoughts. I live the part and live through the scenes in which they are thrust into.

I entered the cavernous room with trepidation. The air was clammy and thick with the scent of death and decay. I crinkled my nose and blew three quick blasts of air through my nostrils. Stacks of wooden crates stood like monolithic shadows, hugged by a fine mist crawling through the dark. Something scurried across my bare toes and into the shadows, making my spine tingle. It’s feet pattered away in a frantic race until the ticking of it’s paws against the floor EYE 001ceased. I heard it screech in agony, but only for a moment. My teeth began to chatter despite the heat…

I know what your thinking – Wait a second, Mike. You said that editors prefer stories in third person! Well, that’s true. That doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. I will often write my stories in first person, then transpose them to third person later.

Clive entered the cavernous room with trepidation. The air was clammy and thick with the scent of death and decay. He crinkled his nose and blew three quick blasts of air through his nostrils. Stacks of wooden crates stood like monolithic shadows. A fine mist crawled through the dimly lit corridors. Something scurried across Clive’s bare toes and into the shadows, making his spine tingle. Its feet pattered away in a frantic race until the ticking of its paws against the floor ceased. Clive heard it screech in agony, but only for a moment. His teeth began to chatter despite the heat.

Your job is to get the reader’s mind into your character’s mind so they experience the same things in unison. The best way to do that is for you, the writer, to be in there first, to experience your character’s plight, and then convert it into a readable story. Sometimes I will come to a certain scene in a story and write that scene in first person despite having written the rest of the story in third person. I’ll do this because that scene needed an intimate feel to relay the subtleties of the situation. I walk into that room as my character, I look around, I describe an odor, I hear things shuffling in the dark, and I see shadows moving on the walls. Later I go back and rewrite that into a readable third person sequence and match it to the rest of the story.

So, if you want to get an intimate feel for a scene, write it in first person and transpose it to third person later.



Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
― Anton Chekhov

Fiction is the truth inside the lie. 
― Stephen King

The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.
– Ursula K. Le Guin

November is Horror Fiction Month at Parlor of Horror


November is Horror Fiction Month at Parlor of Horror

I’m going to devote much of November to horror fiction, book reviews, authors, biographical sites, inspirational articles, writing horror, and horror fiction to read.

Many of my fellow writers have embarked on NaNoWriMo, which translated means, National Novel Writing Month of November. What they intend to accomplish is writing 50,000 words of their new novel in a months time. That’s approximately 12,500 words a week, or 1670 words a day. In honor of their journey I will post several writing articles for inspiration. Good luck to all who are participating. If you think you would like to participate next year, check out the NaNoWriMo website for info.

There will still be some film reviews, and my usual articles, but horror fiction will be the main focus. I hope you’ll join me in this month long celebration of the written word.

honest Abe

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? – Part VIII – Story and Plot


I haven’t done one of these posts in a while. This one is basic but important enough to be reminded about every so often.

Story and Plot

At the bare bones analysis of story and plot, every story has been told already. This determination has happened hundreds of years ago. Between Greek and Roman mythology, mythologies from native lands and counties, Fairy and Folk tales, famous Opera’s and Plays, and religious writings, every kind of struggle a human has to face has been told. The only thing that is going to make your story different and stand out is the way you deliver it. The garnish around the basic plot premise and the situation in which the basic plot unfolds will ‘trick’ the reader into thinking they have read something totally original.

The main component of a plot is a conflict.

Some common basic story plots, conflicts and archetypes include:

Man vs. Man – a character is trying to achieve something and another is trying to stop him

Man vs. Himself – this is the internal struggle of a man to change and the real enemy is within himself

The Quest – A man must obtain some sacred object and sets out into the world to get it. (‘sacred object’ is relative to the story and importance to the characters, not necessarily ‘sacred‘ ex: the toy in Jingle All the Way)

Man vs. Nature – a character is struggling to survive or make his family, community, comrades, safe against the forces of nature (weather, animals, natural phenomenon).

Man vs. Circumstance – a character struggles against his predictable fate or place in life and the world.

Man vs. Society – a character struggles against ideas, ideology, customs and beliefs of people that must be overcome to move forward. (these last two are almost the same but could have a few differences)

Most stories are based on these conflicts. Once you figure out which type of story you’re writing, it makes working on it easier. You can look at similar stories to gauge your plot, escalate conflict, and assess its originality.

A subplot involves a secondary conflict: ex. A person can be fighting against nature and also learning to trust him/herself to become a leader. – Or – A man can be on a quest but have another person trying to stop him, one that he must defeat.

Decide early on what type of story you’re writing and you will lead your characters to a logical conclusion.

You will notice that the Storyline Plot is often different than the ‘Character Arc’ Plot of your Main Character.

If you take Clash of the Titans for instance, Perseus is searching for a way to save Andromeda (Quest – story plot) and fighting Calibos  (Man vs. Man – story plot), but is also learning about himself and trying to find his unique place in the scheme of life (Man vs. Himself – Character Plot).


another quick note on Plot
You should try to keep it realistic but find a way to make it feel fresh.

I find it amazing when I watch those documentary crime shows on TV (Lt. Joe Kenda is one of my current faves) that people are still being murdered for the same reasons we’ve always read about: Love Triangles, Insurance Policies, Money (as little as a few hundred dollars), and Jealousy. That makes it extra difficult to write crime drama or murder mysteries. However, good writers find a way to make it feel fresh to their readers.

 “The question is not what you look at, but how you see it”
– Thoreau

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.”
– William Faulkner

“Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called.”
― Jarod Kintz

Rants and Raves – spring 2015

Rants and Raves – spring 2015

You’re sick dude!

I haven’t been able to get out much to the theaters to see any new movies. I’m still fighting the Big-C and I had a pretty bad relapse this year. I’m just now getting back on track…maybe. Just thought I’d let you all know so if you suddenly see no reviews here, it’s quite possible I’m in the hospital. For now you’ll probably just see a lot of reviews of older horror and sci-fi films. Also, I forget things because of the chemo, so if I told anyone I was going to read a review or check out something and haven’t, its because I don’t remember too well. bb_king 4

A nod to BB King, the master of Blues who passed away this week at his home in Las Vegas. He had a unique style, with an almost happy, uplifting sound, (odd for the blues) that was instantly recognizable to all who heard his sweet Lucille sing to his tunes. (Lucille is his guitar.) Every time I heard him play, it brought a smile to my face. Happiness to you in that big band in the sky, BB!

I’d like to say goodbye to David Letterman. His jokes were dry and his humor rather stale, and he often poked fun at himself for the stale jokes he delivered. However, behind that dry humor was intelligence, charm, and a sharp wit. Through the years I had watched The Late Show, davidletterman_2015on and off, knowing Letterman was always on with some great guests and poignant stories. Thanks for all the laughs and memories Dave. Also, a nod to Paul Schaffer, a talented musician and performer. You will be missed.

Looking forward to the Carnage Conservatory re-launch coming soon. If you all had not seen it, the CC was webzine of visceral Horror stories, the morec michael forsyth pic 2 gore the better.

I am thinking of moving all my writing tips posts to a different blog, a new blog where I may even host some stories written by my fellow bloggers. Let me know your thoughts on this.

C. Michael Forsyth (author of Hour of the Beast) has started a kick-starter campaign to launch his new graphic novel, Night Cage. It sounds like a great story mixing the classic exploitation style and graphic novel tradition. Even if you’re not one that donates to KS projects, you should definitely click the link and check out the video, it is awesome!



Plus what?

OK, whats the deal with Google plus? I have no idea how to use it, what it is used for, or why I should try and figure it out. All I know is I keep getting contacted about my friends and fellow bloggers to add to my circles (?). So I finally added a whole bunch of people, but nothing really happened. I thought there was going to be some kind of reward or party, but I got nothing. I don’t even see a circle…


Linkedin Park

Another thing, I’m not on Linkedin and have no intention of starting a Linkedin profile. I know I’ve been contacted by many people, but I’m not being rude, I just don’t have an account with them. I like content, not showing off how smart I am or important I am in a list of my great accomplishments. On a blog I provide content, (hopefully interesting) and I read content. I am not the content itself…

New Reads:

If you have the desire to read some great horror, check out these books from my fellow authors:

Chad Lutze – Night as a Catalyst 

Weldon Burge – Broken

James Ward Kirk – Death Anxiety

I haven’t read any of these yet but they are all talented writers and you are bound to get some great horror entertainment from these books.

night-as-a-catalyst-cover-final BROKEN weldon burge JWK death anxiety

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Part VII

Editing, rewrites, and drafts

It took me many years to really learn how to edit and rewrite my own fiction – and I’m still learning. A great story idea, great plot and original characters don’t always lead to great reading for another person. The first draft of a story is like picking out the right ingredients to make clay and mixing it together. Even though it is now a well kneaded, smooth ‘clay’ it is still just a lump. It needs many layers of refinement to become an interesting work of art.

Editing and rewriting is not only grammar. In fact, grammar issues should be your last refinement in the editing process. Provided you have a good plot, conflict, and story structure, the bigger concern is making your writing lean.

I had often heard tips on editing like:

Trim the fat
scissors 1

Make every word count

I had no idea what these tips meant. I thought I did, but I didn’t.

Here are three rules that took me quite a while to grasp:

1) Don’t dilute the power of a word by using other words with it.

Ex. John ran quickly to the phone.

Do you think if John was running, it was because he wanted to get the phone immediately? There is no reason for the adverb, quickly. In fact, most writing advice will tell you to drop all of your adverbs – because, most of the time, the verb conveys what you need without them.

In Stephen King’s “On Writing’ he says, get rid of most ‘-ly’ words – quickly, exactly, fairly, hungrily, simply.

Here’s another example:

Ex. Henry stamped up the stairs angrily.

I think readers can deduce that, if Henry is stamping, he must be mad. Aside from that, in the context of a story, we would already know that something had happened to make Henry angry.

Don’t use an adverb or ‘modifying word’ when the simple verb will state what you need.


scissors 2**Get rid of precursor add-ons like: I feel, I felt, I felt that, I thought, he thinks, he started, he began to, etc.

Ex. I thought he was going to meet me at six, but he was not here.

 Better: He was going to meet me at six, but he was not here.


Ex. I feel that it will run better without his constant interruptions.

  Better: It will run better without his constant interruptions.

 If we know the point-of-view and the character who is talking, the words, ‘I feel that’ are not necessary. These are just a couple of words in each sentence, but in the course of a story, they add up to hundreds of words.

More examples:

Ex. Slowly, I drift back into sleep… The word ‘drift’ implies slow movement.

   Better: I drift back into sleep…

Ex. She started to crawl toward me once again. … ‘started to’ and ‘once’ are completely unnecessary words.

Better: She crawled toward me again.

Ex. Finally, I broke free, spilling to the ground… ‘ly’ words are mostly unneeded. (see what I did there?)

Better: I broke free, spilling to the ground


2) Don’t state the obvious.

If the writing is really tight and lean, a reader will not miss anything. Its only when they are disengaged with the writing and they start feeling bored with the words that they begin to skim and could miss something important. By restating the obvious you are putting a reader though unneeded work and losing their concentration. The first time a reader has to skim or skip over a group of words because they already ‘get it‘, you’ve lost them.

3) Don’t repeat yourself.

I have a bad habit of this. It’s a bad habit that I’ve always had…see what I mean? I hope you can see what I mean.

Many writers are guilty of this and don’t realize it until someone points it out.

Items to look for and delete:

**Location – some writers keep repeating what room the scene is happening in, as if the reader will forget. If it is stated at the beginning of the scene that the characters are in the kitchen, you don’t need to mention it again unless they leave the kitchen.

Ex. Harry turned on the kitchen faucet.straight-razor

   If they are in the kitchen what other faucet would it be?

Better: Harry turned on the faucet.

Ex. She looked out the kitchen window.

   Same scenario, if the scene is in the kitchen, she wouldn’t be looking out the bedroom window, would she?

Better: She looked out the window.

**Two sentences that should be one – In the first draft, I’ll have many sentences that can be combined because some or all of the aspects have been stated already.

Ex. Jimmy started to climb the tree. While climbing the tree he tried to avoid carpenter ants that had made a home there.

   Better: Jimmy climbed the tree, avoiding carpenter ants along the way.


Here is a great exercise to see the importance of trimming these words. Take a story you have already written. ’Cut’ all of these needless words from your story and ‘paste’ them into another file. Now read the story. Does it still make sense? Does it still convey the plot and characters?

In a 10- page story, you might find you have several pages of words cut out of the text, without effecting the story at all. Look how hard you were making a reader work to achieve the same results. All of these extra words dispersed throughout the story make reading a chore.

I recently edited my story, Steel Deliverance, before submitting it to a publication. The word count started at 3875 words. When I was done (approximately 3 days of revisions) it was 3575 words. That’s 300 words less. I don’t believe it has lost any of its impact. It will be a tighter read for a reader and move along at a much better pace. And this story is far from succinct; I wrote it in my ‘Poe’ style voice using lavish description and poetic words.  This story was done and self-edited three years ago, but when I went back and took another eagle-eyed look at it, there was more work to be done. It’s the leanest its ever been and more focused because of it. It was quickly accepted into the anthology, Terror Train (JWK Fiction).


“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
― Mark Twain

“The first draft of anything is shit.”  – Ernest Hemingway

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
― Thomas Jefferson

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