Tag Archives: writing tips

5 Bad Writing Habits You Can Break Today (infographic)

Thanks to GrammarCheck.net, here is an infographic that will help you improve your writing. As you read this through, it’s quite possible you can find habits you’ve formed in your writing, habits that can be eliminated with practice.


The chart is small here, but you can easily enlarge it. Left click on it to open another page similar to this one. Left click on the chart there, which should give you the infographic again but with a plus sign on it so you can enlarge the image. Left click to open it to a large readable size. Did you get it?























What bad writing habit(s) are you now aware you have? I seem to have several … Oops! See what I did? I should have said I have several.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


Tips for deciding on names for your characters

Here are a few writing helps for you today, especially for finding names for the characters you are creating in your marvellous stories.

If you strive for authenticity in your stories, you might also want to consider the accuracy of the names you choose for your characters in certain time settings. I found a name/age calculator that could be of help to you in selecting a name that was/is used in the time frame of your story. It sets a wide range but focuses on the median – the midpoint when the name is most commonly used. GO HERE to find the NAME/AGE CALCULATORThis calculator is based on American names and notes that names before 1940 are estimates.

I also found a site that helps you select a name according to themes or qualities of your character. GO HERE to find NAME THEMES.

If you are looking for a unique name, perhaps from mythology or the Bible, or even a musical name for your character, GO HERE to find UNIQUE BABY NAME IDEAS.

To help you come up with a character by name and personality GO HERE to THE CHARACTER NAME GENERATOR.

I hope you have fun with these and find them to be helpful.

I’ve added the above links to my Writers’ Helps, Quotes & Workshops’ page. Look under Writers’ helps when you need them for your stories.

Do you have any suggestions for coming up with suitable character names that are not listed here or on my Writers helps page?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – Part 22: Flying – By the Seat of Your Pants

Welcome back! Over the next several more months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison’s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month twenty-two:


“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 22: Flying – By the Seat of Your Pants

My husband and I have major differences when it comes to attacking a project. He’s the plan-and-research guy. I’m the gal who starts right away and screeches to a halt in the middle of the mess to realize that I don’t know where I am or how I got there.

In the world of book-writing, these two approaches are generally labeled as Planner (or Plotter) versus Pantster. Pantster refers to”flying by the seat of your pants.” I’m a Planner with my research, which I define, lay out, and adamantly pursue. I also get to know my characters very well before I write their “stories.” However, when it comes to writing the story, I’m pretty much a Pantster. I love the creativity and freedom writing as a Pantster engenders.

IMG_05431(I AM glad my husband is a Planner, because he is also a pilot, and I DO NOT want my pilot to fly by the seat of his pants!)

If you are a Planner, you’re probably doing just fine with your first draft. You’re following your outline and you’re staying on track.

If you are, like me, a Pantster, you may have followed your creative urges and pushed your novel into an entirely different – or new and improved – plotline. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it may include painting yourself into a corner. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve spent a lot of time in that corner!

Experience has taught me a few tricks about agilely exiting from corners without ruining a great paint job (i.e., your new and improved plot line.)

1. Don’t get discouraged. Writing is hard work, especially first and second draft writing. Everyone needs to reread and edit, even Planners.

2. If you’re stuck, go back to the beginning of your novel and read what you’ve written. As you read, jot down the ideas, main characters, and developments in each chapter. Use only a few sentences per chapter.

3. When a chapter veers off in strange, unproductive directions (It doesn’t advance the plot.), note that, but don’t stop to rewrite at this point.

4. Read until you think your novel has reached the “Great Desert of Hopelessness.”

5. Stop.

6. Contemplate. Where do you want to go? If you don’t have the end of your novel rattling around in your head somewhere, this is the time to formulate your last chapter.

7. Write the last chapter. You will likely change this, but for now, in this painted-into-the-corner moment, it gives you a goal.

8. Again start at the beginning of your novel, and this time jot down any “travel” notes beside your chapter notes. How do you need to change this chapter to eventually arrive at your last chapter?

9. Rewrite. Don’t spend a lot of angst on wording or those bits of minor research you haven’t completed. You’ll have time for that later. Now is when you get the plot back on track. Don’t be afraid to cut bad chapters or rotten paragraphs.

10. When you’ve finished rewriting to your satisfaction, jot down where you’re going with the next series of chapters. I know that sounds like Planning, but it’s really only Reminding.

If you’re like me, you may need to repeat these steps more than once during the first draft, but it’s worth the effort! Keep writing!

Question for you: Are you a Planner or a Pantster? (Not only with writing, but in life, too!)

Strength to your pen!


*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back December 18, 2014, for part 23. (Note the change in schedule for that month due to Christmas.)

5 authors give writing advice to hopefuls

As you know, I sometimes take the opportunity to interview an author. You can find those interviews by scrolling through my Book Reviews & Author Interviews page. One of the questions I asked specifically is if he or she had any advice for hopefuls? They all generously complied with some great tips from their own experience.

This seems a good time to refresh your memory and give you a little encouragement. I have excerpted from our interviews and included the name of the book being promoted at the time. Here is what those authors had to say:

1. Laura Best – author of Bitter, Sweet

“The best advice I can give to hopefuls is to write as much and as often as you can. Pay close attention to any comments that editors send your way. Forget the notion that your work can not stand to be improved upon. Everything can be improved. You’ll start to know when you’re getting closer to publication. Those comments will be laced with a sweet touch of sugar as your writing gets stronger. Lastly, don’t give up. If you believe in your talent keep working at it, perfect it to the place where someone will want to publish it.”

Check out Laura’s blog here. Reread our interview here.

2. Billy Coffey – author of Snow Day

“The best advice I can give? I’m a firm believer in the power of perseverance, so my advice is to always try once more. If you write a story you decide is awful, try once more. If you get a rejection, try once more. In the end, it doesn’t matter who gives up on you. All that matters is that you don’t.”

Check out Billy’s blog here. Reread our interview here.

3. Penny Zeller – author of Kaydie (of the Montana Skies series)

“When I meet a reader or fan face to face, I love to chat with her about what she envisions herself doing for God’s Kingdom and how can I pray and encourage her in that pursuit. If she is pursuing her dream as a writer, I tell her that one of the most important things to remember in being a writer is that if God has called you to do it, He will guide you every step of the way.

I would advise her to give her writing to the Lord and to not give up! I speak from experience when I say that when He closes one door, He opens another (much better) one.”

Check out Penny’s website here. Reread our interview here.

4. Jan L. Coates – author of A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk

“My best advice would be to read everything you can in the genre in which you’re interested in writing – I’m constantly amazed by how much I can learn from studying how great authors put words and stories together. And, of course, write – every day, if you can. Also, read your work out loud – it’s surprising how easy it is to pick up weaknesses that way. If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t.”

Check out Jan’s website here. Reread our interview here.

5. Delia Ephron – author of The Lion Is In

“The important thing for all aspiring writers is believe in yourself, be driven and never give up.”

Check out Delia’s website here. Reread our interview here.

When you enjoy again the above-mentioned interviews, you will glean many more tips and advice you can apply to your own writing. What I have included here is only what was in direct answer to my question.

Have you found any of these authors’ advice to be useful to you? What other things do you do to keep on track?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂