Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Editorial Quick Tags

01 Jul

tag flag pinWhile you are writing, it is generally best not to break your stride by stopping to puzzle out or fix some inconsistency or fill in a blank spot or detail.  Keep writing so you stay in the groove, but toss in a tag so you can easily find the trouble spot later.  When doing a read-through of a completed manuscript, you may want to tag problems rather than stopping to fix them so you can stay in the story.  Editors sometimes use tags, along with pages of notes on those tags, to flag areas that need rewriting or revision.

Editorial tags need to be unique so they can be easily searched for when it is time to deal with them. Common tags are TK or TC, which mean “to come” and are used to mark gaps in the text where something else is needed.  These are letter combinations that do not occur in words, so they should not provide false hits in your search.

I tend to like <<NOTE>> because it is visually catchy as well as easily searched for.  I can amend NOTE with a quick comment on what needs fixing and still be able to find them by searching for “<<NOTE”.  Others might be <<EXPLAIN>>, <<SHORTEN>>, <<NEED PHOTO>> or <<UNCLEAR>>. You might think you’d have to start keeping a list of tags you’ve used, but you don’t because you can just search for “<<” and pull them all up.

When doing blog posts or magazine articles, I use this same trick to mark photo placements: <<<MyPhoto140625.jpg 300 Left>>> which gives me the title, width in pixels and the alignment. I learned this from a magazine that accepted text and photos through e-mail but needed to format and assemble the articles for print in their own system.

Tags have a variety of uses in both the writing and initial editing phase of your manuscript..  I hope this helps you out as you write.


Taking Time For Reading

26 Jun
reading dog

Credit: Armstrong Library

Good writers are avid readers.

I don’t have any statistics from scientific studies to throw at you, but based on what I know about the talented writers I’ve encountered, I stand by that statement. For most of us, a penchant for writing was the fruit which grew from our love of reading when we were young. We admired our favorite author’s ability to take us to other places, times, and situations, and we wanted to do this too. So we began crafting stories of our own.

Whether we did so consciously or not, we emulated our literary mentors. As we read their work, we began to dissect their stories, to see how they created the illusions. Like studying a magic act, we wanted to discover the slight-of-word that made it all believable.

Most of us still enjoy reading. Unfortunately, many now do not spend much time reading great novels. We’re spending so much time reading as research, or for education, or as part of our marketing efforts that the great masters lay on a shelf gathering dust. The library is thinking of closing our account because our card has not been used in such a long time. This is a shame.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Romancing the Muse


Writing for Online Communal Publishers

13 Jun

If you’re just getting started as a writer and want to get your feet wet with minimal cost, communal publishing can be the answer.

This is the first in a series of detail articles which look more closely at the various means of publishing your work as a writer. The kick-off article gave a long list of these methods with a brief overview of each.  Starting with this article we take a peek at the chapter in Writing for Profit or Pleasure: Where to Publish Your Work that covers each topic in great detail.

What is a Communal On-Line Publisher?

collage of notes for communal publishing


Most communal online publishers operate like enormous blogs with thousands of users.  Non-members can read the articles and search by topic or author.  Most offer writers a free account and encourage you to write often.  The best of these offer community support through discussion forums where writers share tips and review one another’s work.  Some also offer writing contests.  Some of these even offer cash prizes, though most are for bragging rights; but bragging rights are good too!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Publishing


Kind Words for this Blog

12 Jun

I was poking around in my listings and found these reviews of this blog — which is available as a Kindle subscription.  These comments warmed my heart and I thought I’d share them here and say “thank you” to all.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

blog review 5 stars Like a readers corner store; always something handy or tasty. February 17, 2013
By Rickythewiz

Allan’s a great writer, to start with. he really knows how to put a good piece of writing together and how to polish it up.  His blog is a reader’s corner store with shelf after shelf of handy, tasty and useful stuff and if you go in for just one thing you generally come out with a basket full of good stuff; ideas, thoughts, advice, laughs and good directions to some other great reading material.  Highly recommended.  If you don’t read any other blog, you should always read Allan’s blog.


blog review 5 stars The writing life February 9, 2013
By sandmeistress

Allan Douglas knows everything anyone needs to know about telling a story–creating scenes, suspense, great characters.  His blog is wonderful, always entertaining and profound, and always fun to read no matter what he’s writing about!  True slice-of-life stories that ring true!


blog review 5 stars Essential Tool for the Aspiring Writer February 8, 2013
By Susie

If you are an aspiring writer sifting through the thousands of blogs and websites about writing, the path to publication, and life as a freelance writer, look no further.  Allan Douglas’ articles on the writing life are exactly what you are looking for. Through carefully crafted tales about the real life experiences of a freelance writer, Allan Douglas captivates his audience while providing excellent examples of what good writing is all about.
Susan Warren Utley
Editor, Haunted Waters Press

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Posted in Share the Love


Write Faster, Earn More

29 Nov
typewriter, writing, editing

A Hermes Rocket typewriter from the 1950′s

This article is not intended for novelists.  While novelists are certainly welcome to read it, I doubt you’ll find anything useful to your calling here.  This article is intended for those who write magazine articles, blog post/web content, and perhaps short stories or brief memoir pieces.

While the admonition of “write faster” may seem self-explanatory on the surface, it goes way beyond just hitting the keys at a higher rate of speed.  Although that too can help.  Isaac Asimov was once being interviewed by Barbara Walters. In between two of the segments she asked him, ”But what would you do if the doctor gave you only six months to live?” He said, “Type faster.”1

One of the things I like best about being a freelance writer over being a cubicle dweller or factory worker is the aspect that it’s up to me to decide how much I work and how much I earn.  As a corporate employee I worked so many hours a week and got a paycheck for a certain amount every two weeks.  Other than the rare opportunity for overtime, I had little to do with how much time I put in or the pay I took away.

As a freelancer, it is entirely — well, mostly — up to me to decide when I work and how much I get paid.  No work: no pay, work hard: get paid well, simple as that.  Mostly.  But it’s more than just keeping my nose to the grindstone longer.  I can eek out more profit by making that time count for more by working smarter, not just longer.  Here’s how that works.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Emotion of Words

25 Oct
words, word pictures, writing, narrative, story

by Smock Art

Words carry a lot of meaning.  I don’t mean that in the sense of synonyms and homonyms, but in the sense that the way we construct our sentences and phrases can carry – or not – far more meaning than the words alone should.  It’s sometimes called “word pictures”

If you want to paint a mental picture of a girl who is sickly and frail, you would do well to stay away from the words “light” or “fair” in describing her skin and use “pale” or “ashen”.  A dog that is scrawny will likely be viewed as unhealthy, while “slender” or “thin” may be viewed as fit and toned.  If moving a bag or package, “hoisted”, “heaved” or “hefted” brings to mind a good deal of weight while “tossed” or “flipped” indicates a light load and easy task.  A good thesaurus will help you find alternate words and a dictionary will help make sure you’re using them correctly.  But it goes beyond this.

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Posted in Educational


Interview or e-Terview: When and Why

18 Oct

interview, Q&A imageIn our modern world of highly connected, internet based communications writers sometimes resort to e-mailing questions to an interview subject instead of doing a personal or telephone interview.  Whether this is a good thing or bad thing depends on a lot of factors.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Educational


Interview like a Pro: Think like a Shrink

05 Oct
therapy, interview, interviewing


My writerly background is primarily non-fiction and journalism.  As such, I’ve done a lot of interviews.  Along this journey I’ve learned a few tricks: one is to approach an interview as a therapist would approach a patient.

In college I took some psychology classes: not to become a therapist but to learn what makes people tick.  These classes helped a great deal in this regard and in dealing with people in general.

I found this particularly helpful while I was working with a Smoky Mountain Visitors Guide, for which I was interviewing a different Smoky Mountains region artist each month.  The articles were full-page spreads and needed to be in depth and interesting.  Artists *can* be kind of high-strung.  Here are a few of the tricks I developed.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Tips, Tricks & Tools


Writing Lessons from the Garden

14 May

I lay claim to the title Professional Writer because I make an income from selling my articles and books.  I am also an amateur gardener: because I do NOT make any income from it.  I had once considered selling excess produce at the local Farmers Market, but that would mean getting up quite early on Saturdays and trundling a truckload of veggies over to a parking lot where I would HOPE that people would be willing to exchange cash for foodstuffs.  That lost its appeal once that ‘getting up early on Saturday’ thing became a tangible reality.  Still I have learned some lessons from gardening that apply well to other areas of life, even life as a writer.

garden, raised bed gardening, writing lessons

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A Little Creative Writing: The Daily Tromp

13 Nov

The old man struggles at the slow end of the leash as his 80 pound bulldog, Cochise, strains like a John Deere at the other; dragging them both up the steep, winding mountain path.

Daily Tromp 8822The path was once a crude dirt road; just a common access for owners of property on the undeveloped, upper portion of the mountain. For several years an occasional 4-wheel drive pick-up would trek up the mountain to release hunting dogs, cut firewood to haul home, or just enjoy a few hours sitting in the woods soaking up the solitude.  Then, for a while only ATVs went up there to rip and snort along the path and tear new trails through virgin woods.  The old man was glad when the kids lost interest in their new toys and stopped coming.  It had been a year or more since anyone went up the old road.  No maintenance had been done, not even the farmer who occasionally used his tractor to drag a scraper blade along to even out the humps and ruts and shear off the saplings. Now those saplings were crowding in from the shoulders and taking over again. Trees had fallen, shattering branches all over and heavy rains were forming huge ruts and runnels that made the road difficult for any vehicle to navigate faster than a creep.

Only he and Cochise – occasionally his wife and a foster dog would accompany them a short ways; just to where it got steep – were the only ones to go up there.  They manage to keep a path trampled down for a half mile or so up the main route and a few hundred feet along a branch road. Read the rest of this entry »