Present Tense or Past Tense? First Person or Third? Which to Use for Your Novel or Memoir

You’re getting ready to write your novel or memoir. How do you decide which tense you should use: past or present? In the case of a novel, you also need to decide whether to write in first person or third. These are common dilemmas and ones worth exploring, because selecting the right tense and point of view from the start will save you getting stuck part-way into the writing, unable to make that choice work for the remainder of your story.

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An Editor’s Advice for ESL Authors (Non-Native English Speakers)

I frequently get emails from ESL authors—non-native English speakers who have written a book in English and are looking for an editor before they publish. ESL authors, this article is for you. If you are extremely fluent in English, this article does not apply to you. But if you aren't, and if you've written the book in English, or translated ... Read More

Hedge Words and Inflation Words—Prune These from Your Writing

As writers, we all know wordiness is something to avoid: never say in ten words what you can say in four. But while we get that in theory, it’s often hard, in practice, to produce tight writing. We look at the sentences on the page, suspecting they are verbose, but don’t know what to change or to eliminate. Let’s look at two common writing flaws that clutter the manuscripts of many aspiring authors. I call these culprits “hedge words” and “inflation words” …

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‘Begs the Question’ or ‘Raises the Question’?

No, esteemed author friends. "Begs the question" does not mean "raises the question." What is our language coming to? I sound like a pedant, but honestly ...  the rash of "begging the questions" we're now seeing everywhere, even on news shows and in presumably "edited" books, is enough to drive an editor around the bend. People think it sounds cool ... Read More