Which Word Works?

This week I felt compelled to review word usage in fiction writing (or any writing, for that matter).  The right word conveys the right emotion, message, action.

New writers sometimes feel a need to use words or phrases (and I’ve been there, I readily admit) to impress, or seem more “worldly” perhaps.  Occasionally, when editing, I come across ones that I’ve never seen before!  Wow, how impressive indeed—into the dictionary I delve!

Don’t aim for impressive; go for impression, the [desired] effect you produce in the mind of your readers.

At times, the selected word works, at times, not.  So, why was it chosen?  Because it sounded good?  Not a valid reason, my friends.  Because it’s popular?  Not a valid reason, my friends.  Because you really want to demonstrate how grand your vocabulary is?  Not a valid reason, my friends.

Upon hearing the news of her death, sadness flowed through him.

Upon hearing the news of her death, ruefulness flowed through him.

Upon hearing the news of her death, dispiritedness flowed through him.

Upon hearing the news of her death, forlornness flowed through him.

The bolded words share a similar meaning (to a degree) yet are not the same.

sadness:  causing, showing or expressing unhappiness or sorrow

ruefulness:  causing, showing or expressing unhappiness or regret

dispiritedness:  a feeling of low spirits

forlornness:  sad or lonely, chiefly from being abandoned or forsaken

Utilize the word the best works for the dialogue, action, scene—and not because a “bigger” word seems “better”.  Ensure the word or phrase is appropriate to the circumstance(s).  And if you want to use a new word, go for it, but check the definition.  Is it accurate for what is being written/conveyed?  Remember: the dictionary is our friend.

They say short and sweet is best, and that can hold true for words.  Sometimes, the clearest, most persuasive word is the shortest one.

And, if you’re writing a historical novel, think about how your characters speak—modern-day phrases and expressions really don’t have a place here, unless time travel is involved.

The same holds true of speech/dialogue.  Someone of royal blood or a person in a governmental position would not likely use “gonna” or “wanna”; he or she would speak with more precision and professionalism.  Moreover, characters—like everyday persons—would speak differently and employ unique phrases or expressions.  Contractions may or may not be used, given who the person is and where he or she hails from.

Example:

The minister looked as his assistant.  “Bro, like I was tellin’ ya, I was wondering if we’re gonna like the proposals Major Martyn will propose, ya know?  I heard he’s kinda odd when it comes to—”

“No worries, sir, I’m sure you’re gonna like them just fine,” his assistant said.

How about something like:

The minister regarded Lester, his assistant, closely.  “I wonder if Major Martyn’s proposals will be practical.  I’ve heard he’s rather odd when it comes to—”

“No worries, sir,” Lester interrupted with an amiable smile.  “I’m sure you’ll find them appropriate.”

Incorrect word choices (or arrangements) can result in clumsiness, vagueness, and/or ambiguity.

Example of incorrect word usage:

“George, from here on in we will live our life together, don’t you think that’s awesome?  We can rely on each other, my honey-bun,” Margaret derailed George’s train of thought, like she knew precisely what he was so totally enthralled with.

Example of better word usage:

With a patient smile, Margaret derailed George’s train of thought.  “Going forward we’ll live our lives together.  We’ll have each other to rely on.  That’s amazing, don’t you agree?”

Avoid misusing words; again, check the definition if you’re not quite sure.  Make certain the context is correct.

Keep an eye on jargon, too.  It may work for a character or two, but it may not for others, and it may not work in descriptive sections.  Clichés can be appealing, at times, in the right situations, but they can also prove trite if not silly, so use them wisely.

Say what needs saying, and don’t “over-stuff”; you only need so many feathers for a comfy cushion.  Wordiness, unlike a dictionary, is not our friend.

ClipartKeydotcomABCaIn summation:  ♦  be careful when utilizing a word that’s unfamiliar  ♦  use a dictionary if you use a thesaurus, to be certain the new word you want to use is the right one  ♦  do not write to impress or sound like you know it all  ♦  watch for repetition (have you used the same word/phrase too many times?).

Reading aloud helps . . . really.  Try it.  See if it doesn’t help you with your word selection.  If something doesn’t sound good to your ears, it probably needs reworking.

This could easily be a five-page post because there’s so much to advise re word usage, but no one wants to plow through a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng post, so here you have the main food-for-thought points.  I hope they help.

On that note, I bid you a short and simple adieu.

The End of the Beginning

Yee-ha!  Finished “HA-HA-HA-HA” . . . well, the first draft anyway.  For me, this has been—wow—over a year in the making.  Time to celebrate?  Maybe.  A little.

WPwineIf you’ve finished your manuscript, congrats.  Not an easy feat (not unless you’re a prolific writer who can put something together in a wink and a blink).  So, what now?  Have a celebratory glass of wine or cup of tea?  Why not?  Go for it.  Give yourself a [well-deserved] pat on the back?  For sure—you deserve it, so give yourself two.  Take a breather?  Most definitely!

“The End” truly isn’t the end, not when it’s only the first draft.  After that, you have to begin on the revamping, the refining.  You want your manuscript to be submission perfect, so make certain your “product” is good enough to send out to publishers, agents (if you’re planning on pursuing the traditional publishing route), acquisition editors, and the like.

I’ve undoubtedly touched upon the following in past, but a review is always worthwhile—for you and me.

Take the aforementioned breather—a few days isn’t enough, truly, so aim for a few weeks, even a month or, better yet, two.  I know, this seems like a forever when you’re excited about your manuscript and want to get it out there.  But you must step away to view/review your work with objectivity.  You’ve been living with the story for some time and need fresh eyes to see what’s what (what works and what doesn’t): you can only do that when you’ve stepped away for a decent period of time.

Once that breather has breathed enough, pick up that manuscript and read it all the way through before proofing/editing.  Get a feel for how it flows, what makes sense, what stands out (as in amiss or incorrect, or makes you scratch your head).  Now that you’ve got an idea of what requires doing, fix the critical items first—scenes that don’t work, plot holes, character inconsistencies.  Once you’ve got those smoothed over, begin the edit.  Take your time.

Second edit done?  Edit more—or refine, as the case may be.  Once completed, get feedback/input.  Receiving it from family and friends is okay (but how objective are they really going to be?).  Aim for writing communities and groups and beta readers.  See what others have to say but take their advice with a grain of salt; it may make [a lot of] sense, it may not.  Give the feedback serious—and non-subjective thought—and apply as you deem fit.

If you don’t yet have a social-media/on-line presence, create one.  You want people to know about your book and you, the writer.  How about a blog?  Promote your book—and yourself—there.  Spark interest.

I digressed a bit, because social media and the like is a whole other kettle of fish (and I’ve posted about this before).  Really, the whole point about “The End” is that there’s a beginning . . . which leads to it being final, faultless/flawless, and fabulous.

With that, I’m off to take a few breaths . . . hmm, just how many are there in a month?

The Long and Short of It – The Short Story

The gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency were chatting the other day over chai lattes and Rey thought she’d like to try penning a short story.  That gave Linda—also a blogger—an idea.  Why not provide tips on how to get started, seeing as she gave some to Rey?  (JJ thought she’d sit this one out, but might jump in later.)

So, this is a two-parter post.  The first part provides advice and the second will feature Rey’s short.  She’s thinking hers might revolve around an actress turned private eye.  Hmm.  Sounds vaguely familiar.  <LOL>

Over to you, Linda . . .

Hello all.   I’ve written a number of short stories over the years—a few were published, too—so I feel I’m qualified to provide guidelines (in case you were wondering).

If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, but haven’t yet written anything, a short story is a great place to start. 

Like a full-length book, you should present a conflict or complication, a quest or mission, create tension and interest.  Your aim: inspire the reader to read

Where will you get your idea (storyline)?  From the media, an author, a real-life situation, a recollection of something or someone—the channels, options, are numerous.  You don’t want to copy (steal) the idea outright, but you can certainly make it your own by adding the right twists and turns . . . and your personal touch of creativity and imagination. 

The length is up to you, but traditional short stories are 1500 to 5000 words in length (that’s 250 words to a double-spaced page, by the way).

Whether you’re writing short fiction or long, make sure you know it well—learn all you can about the genre by reading it.  Many, many times.  One can only become an expert through concentrated effort and application.

Start by jotting down ideas, characters, thoughts, actions—whatever comes to mind.  Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation.  Just get it on the page or screen.  Let it out.  Purge.

Throw your protagonist (main character) under the bus right away.  Figuratively speaking.  A short story is just that: short.  You have little time (or space) to get too flowery or descriptive.  Yank that reader in right away!  This is contingent on what you’re writing, of course, but whatever the genre, you want to intrigue your readers from the get-go

If you’re writing a romance, perhaps the hero isn’t interested in the heroine, or vice versa.  Maybe the hero’s lover is unfaithful (or so it appears).  Is the protagonist torn between love or comfort (l’amour or moolah)?  In a mystery, has the protagonist stumbled upon a body . . . and is accused of the heinous crime?  Or has he/she witnessed the murder, but no one believes his/her?  In a western, a nefarious thieving gang is on its way to pillage the town—and most of the frightened townspeople, as well as the deputies, have fled.  Rustlers are rumored to be in the vicinity of the Dalton farmstead.  How will the family deal with them?  In a mainstream story, perhaps the heroine strives to go to see the world before she succumbs to her illness, but there’s no money—or hope—to be had.  The possibilities for any genre are endless.  Let that imagination, truly, run wild. 

Short stories that work are those that appeal to readers through emotions, feelings, principles, values (romance/love, vengeance, justice, escape, and so forth).  Enter enough emotion to sadden, delight, frighten, worry, [verb-of-choice] readers.  Entice readers to pursue your protagonist throughout the dilemma or adventure.  How will the perplexing issue be resolved?  Is the ending a happy one or heartbreaking?  Has the protagonist learned a lesson or acquired new insight? 

That ending, like the beginning, has to happen 1-2-3.  Make certain you bring adequate [quick] closure to provide the reader with a sense of satisfaction.  An “it was a dark and stormy night” opening should have a “the sun appeared on the horizon” ending.  That’s not to say that the end is a happy one, just that something promises to transpire (and it could be equally grim, but that’s your choice).

I believe I’ve given you enough food for thought.  Let’s see if my BFF, Rey, applies my suggestions to her short story.  Hmm.  Curiosity’s got the better of me. I think I’ll take a peek . . .

Fried at Five on Friday

. . . otherwise known as being overcome by overwhelming circumstances.  People (demanding parents and partners, hellish colleagues and bosses, “well-meaning” friends) and/or events (jobs, caregiving, chores, commitments, expectations) can take their toll.  There are off days, challenging ones, frustrating ones, go-away! ones.  <LOL>  Par for the course.  It’s call l-i-f-e.

Being overwhelmed [overcome] does not mean:

♠ jumping up and down and ripping your hair out at the roots (this does not make for a very pretty fashion statement)

♠ hitting your head against a concrete wall (it hurts!)

♠ sucking back Canadian maple donuts (though they do hit that sweet spot so nicely) or treat(s) of choice

♠ chugging chardonnay (relaxes/numbs for a while but, ooooooh, the aftermath)

♠ screaming, cursing, swearing (though that does feel <bleeping> great)

♠ giving up (quitting or refusing to do something is okay for a day or two, but not the long run).

How about something more constructive?

♥ refocusing (tell yourself you got what it takes—you’re your own favorite—resilient—warrior)

♥ maintaining the faith (re-finding/redefining it, whatever faith may mean to you)

♥ believing in hope, dreams, and possibilities

♥ dancing / singing / listening to music

♥ exercising / walking / biking . . . swimming / surfing

♥watching fun (amusing) shows or inspirational programs

♥ reading something light/funny (comics work)

♥ breathing deeply—a lot!

No one said every day would be easy—and some may find many aren’t—but, again, that’s l-i-f-e.  But those type of days don’t have to be [that] overwhelming.  Face them straight on.  Laugh at them.  Do not let them take control.  You . . . are . . . a . . . trooper . . .  a . . . fighter.

You . . . got . . . this!

Primo Promo

As you’ve noticed, there have been a few promotional posts about books being avail for 99 cents.  A great, appealing price indeed.

But is it so great to [constantly] promote?  It can’t hurt.  If you’re not with a publisher who sets the promo dates, that’s okay.  Do it on your own.

Why would you do it?  To . . .

♦  launch your new book (this will generate interest and spark sales)  ♦  increase sales (dropping the price of your book for a wee while can boost numbers and this looks good on you)  ♦  entice book “sales” shoppers (lots of folks love the bargain price tag of 99 cents).

There are free sites to promote your book, but you’ll pay fees for others (some are quite affordable).  I won’t list them here but suggest you Google when you’re ready.  This way you’ll find the most current sites.

It’s recommended that before you do any sort of promoting you have some good reviews on your side.  That makes sense.  Potential buyers might be more inclined to purchase your book if others have provided accolades.

Have a good synopsis (blurb) handy—you’ll need it for the promotion.  Make sure there are no typos, which goes without saying.

Let’s see.  Ah yes.  Make certain your book is live . . . available.  Ensure that retailers have the same price and promo dates (we don’t want to create any confusion now, do we?).

And it goes without saying . . . promote the <bleep> out of your, uh, promotion.  Tell friends, family, neighbors.  Communicate the great news—stupendous price—on social media and via writing/author communities (everywhere and anywhere you can think of).

Happy promoting (and selling)!

So, Ya Wanna E-Publish?

Hey, it’s Rey posting today.  A former client gave me the idea of tackling e-publishing.  Given a lot of people Linda, JJ and I know have signed up with e-publishers, it seemed a great idea to “chat” a bit about them.

From what I’ve researched, they say it can be a bit more difficult finding one of these as opposed to a traditional one (I’d have thought the opposite, but what do I know, he-he).  Why?  Because different e-publishers have different approaches.

All right, you’ve written your book and now you want to get it out there.  Bravo!  But who do you go with?  You should start by checking out books (genres) like yours and see who’s handling them.  Research the companies so you know who you’re dealing with, what they’re about, and what they’re looking for, and expect from you.

Other important questions to consider:

♦  What are their contracts like?  ♦    What are their formatting requirements?  ♦   Is there a print-on-demand option?  ♦     Will they design your book cover?  ♦     Who’s responsible for editing?  ♦     Where are they selling?  ♦     Who are their retail partners?  ♦     Will they help promote you?

There’s a lot (!) to know—and understand—before you sign up.

Don’t forget to check their standing.  Are there any complaints or “writer beware” statements and grievances?  Look closely and carefully.  Sure, it’ll take time and effort—but you put that into your book, didn’t you?  Make the best (wisest) choice.

Create a list of those e-publishers that look promising—are right for you and your book—and start submitting.  Another way to get a feel for who’s who: join on-line writing communities.  Get input from them.  Check, check, check.  Ask, ask, ask.  Make a list and start submitting.

E-publishers are more willing to take a chance on new writers, even if their books don’t necessarily fall within a traditional category/genre.  So, if you’ve just written a sci-fi-fantasy romance, hey, you may stand a good chance of being snapped up.

Being e-published offers the opportunity of developing a fanbase—whether you’re doing it on your own behalf and/or have your e-publisher’s assistance (chances are it’ll be on you to do, but never say never, as Cousin Jilly likes to say).  So, once you’ve got a book you’re your name is on it, recognize that that can lead to something exciting—with the right approach(es).

Sure, there are downsides to e-publishing, as with pretty much anything out there, but there’s no need to state them here; you’ll learn about them as you’re researching [the right] e-publishers to contact.

As private eyes, the three of us have ascertained (my new word) that the more thoroughly you investigate, the more you have a handle on how to resolve an issue or learn the reality of a situation.  Like a P.I., follow clues and examine evidence to solve your baffling case: which e-publisher would serve you best?

Doncha love short and sweet?

Stay in Touch!

As writers and bloggers, it’s imperative to stay in touch—to acquire followers, visitors, friends.  Sure, there’s a sense of satisfaction in writing for oneself—the process, the completion—but [personally] I’d like to know that people are reviewing what I’m writing and posting.  As such, social media is our best friend . . . most of the time.  <he-he>

First and foremost, social media puts our stuff out there in the “real” world.  Folks can read it, comment on it, like it.  The one problem?  There are so many platforms!  I myself can barely keep up with the basics—the oldies but goodies—like Facebook and Twitter.  I’m particularly fond of Facebook because not only do I have my personal page, I have an author page.  I belong to several writing communities, which help me network and “advertise” my books (as well as encourage and back fellow writers and bloggers). 

There’s an amazing amount of support out there.  Other useful platforms include YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, Pinterest, and Tumblr.  (We’re talking “free advertising” as opposed to paying someone to advertise and network for us.)  Each one will have pros and cons; you determine which will work best for you and begin building that audience and driving traffic.

Brand yourself.  Tell the social media world who you are, what makes you different, why they should read/follow you.  Garner interest.  Having a presence is really rather necessary in this day and age, and social media platforms can serve as great promotional tools.  And the more of an audience (followers) you develop, the better you look to potential agents and publishers; they love numbers (but, then, so do we).  

Part of the presence is your integrity.  Ensure your work is typo-free and follows grammar and punctuation basics—depending on what you’re writing, of course (perhaps you’re into poetry or more eclectic stuff).  Be sincere and non-critical, unless you’re a reviewer but, even then, you want to offer constructive criticism. 

Give thought to your About page, your bio . . . you.  Be honest.  Be creative, funny, intriguing—whatever you believe reflects who you are and what you’re about.  Do keep it short and sweet, though; you want to maintain (pique) interest, not lose it.

Be consistent, too.  If you decide to engage several platforms, ensure the content is similar across the board: remember your brand, your identity.  You want it to be uniform, to reflect who and what you are.  And speaking of consistency, make sure you use those platforms regularly—remember “integrity”.  Consistency = constancy.  Ensure your audience can depend on you to be there regularly.

Something else to consider: how about streaming live?  If it fits your purpose (and personality), go for it. 

Final food for thought: your post/article or story/book may be completed.  But that’s not “the end”.  Well, it could be.  You could simply leave it and hope people find it and read it.  And maybe writing isn’t about sales for you (though, to be perfectly frank, I’d love to make some serious $$$ from my writing), but chances are you want to be read and recognized.  So, being a blogger/author doesn’t stop there; it means being a promoter and networker, and collaborator too.  We wear many hats . . . and that can prove challenging . . . but it can also be fun.

Can We All Get Along?

I always liked Rodney King’s question.  It’s as simple as the answer should be: yes.  It’s also a simple lead into a simple post . . . about manners, kindness, respect.

“Can we all get along” comes to mind whenever something disturbing flashes on the screen.  But it also popped into my head when something trifling transpired recently.

We bloggers regularly receive spam comments.  Par for the course.  Most are innocuous, a few are annoying, and the odd one can be outright rude or nasty.  I got one the other day that read something like this (I’m sorry I trashed it, to be honest, because I’d like to have featured it):

I thought I’d check out your site for some informative posts but found them of no value-add and boring.  What a waste of my time.

A watered-down version, but you get the idea.  Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.  I didn’t really let it bother me . . . well, kind of . . . maybe a little.  It did prompt me to consider how ill-mannered or impolite—and hurtful—people can be.  Everyone sports different levels of sensitivity and self-worth, and a comment like that could prove depressing, if not devastating, to someone.

Does being rude or hateful provide some strange thrill?  Stoke the ego?  Fuel a need to be spiteful because it’s been a bad day, week, life?  Offer constructive criticism, not destructive.  Or, even better, as the maxim goes, if you have nothing good to say, don’t say it.

Sure, we all have bad days and there are times we experience a need to be vengeful/vindictive because we feel we’ve been wronged.  When there is a pressing need to right that wrong, do it the right way, in a positive way: be encouraging.  And if you feel you’re lacking in the positivity department these days, tuck into an article, course, or vid for a recap.  There are countless ones to be found.

We should never forget about maintaining good manners, providing kindness, and displaying respect but, particularly during these trying (worrying) times, maybe we should make an extra effort.  Kindness goes so much farther than callousness.

Let’s all [endeavor to] get along.  Life’s short—show a little love.

Perhaps Al and Annie express it best . . .

The Definitive Detective

Given the Triple Threat Investigation gals reviewed various mystery genres, I thought it might be a good “The End” to the series if we simply reconsidered what makes for a good detective/sleuth.

When you set out to write your first mystery, you may wonder which components would help your protagonist resonate with readers.  You’ve decided on your genre . . . right?  And how you’ll approach it . . . yes?

The main elements of your mystery: the crime(s), the victim(s), the search for clues that reveal who the culprit is, the tension and friction as said search progresses and intensifies . . . and the ta-da! moment that unveils the perp and shares the details (such as the why).

Now, what about your detective?  How will you define her (I’m going with “she” for this post).  Will she be witty, eccentric, stand-up-comedian funny, logical, philosophical, giddily happy . . . glum, frosty, la-di-da highbrow, cool, arrogant?  You probably wouldn’t want to go with a negative main character for most genres, though she could have one or two less likable traits (as we all do in real life).  Think of it this way: readers enjoy the thrill of accompanying a detective during the clue-searching quest, so make sure they want to spend that time with your detective.

Consider your favorite sleuths.  Why do you like them?  What traits are appealing?  Why do you keep reading mysteries that feature him or her?  There’s obviously a draw.  List details (attributes, peculiarities/habits, features, and so forth), as well the pros and the cons.

Think about these components in terms of the detective you’re creating.  What would you like to see in yours?  Make sure you include a couple of failings, too, because no one is perfect.  What about speech/narration (is there an accent, does she use certain favorite expressions)?  Does she have a traumatic past, a painful memory, or harrowing experience(s)?  Was she born with a silver spoon in her mouth?

Don’t forget to build a visual image.  Is this detective tall, short, blubbery, slim, attractive?  Any scars?  Where (and from what)?  What about eye color, and lip and face shapes?  Is the body/physique toned or fleshy?  Is she a lover of salsa dancing?  A coin collector (numismatic)?  A chess player?

And what about the other characters?  How will yours react to them in various situations?  What will she feel/believe about them?  Does she have certain values and beliefs that may have her respond in a certain manner?

Chances are you won’t use all the details of your character sketch, but you may, particularly if you write a series.  (I build my sketches as I actually write the first draft, but that’s me and that may not work for you).

Your detective should seem real to readers, so give her everything you’ve got—make her come alive!  Make her dance across the pages!

Tucking the Thrill into a Thriller

Hey—yay—it’s Rey again.  Linda accepted an invitation to go surfing on Maui for a few days, so I’m taking over the last genre/sub-genre review post: the thriller.

Thrillers are popular page-turners—and, like mysteries, provide a lot of curving trails, and curveballs.  The POV can come from different characters, like the protagonist or even the villain.  They can be written in different styles and be dark or droll.  Types of thrillers: mystery, psychological, crime, romantic, action, political, military, legal, and even supernatural, paranormal and sci-fi, to name a few.

Okay, so we know there are various types, but what is a thriller?  In a nutshell, it’s a story that’s full of action, moves quickly, has friction and conflict and tension, contains suspense and sudden, surprising turns and kinks.  Scenes push the plot forward and place readers on that proverbial exciting but tense roller-coaster ride.  You know something else?  It may not necessarily revolve around the protagonist solving a crime but him or her preventing one from happening.  Or readers learn the nasty, ugly secret (crime, mystery, event, action) right off.  Sweet twists, huh?

It goes without saying that you need a strong protagonist, as well as robust characters, and a believably bad villain . . . or, maybe not (depends on your storyline and what the villain is all about).  Bring those characters to life.  Make certain you include some [important] history, likes and dislikes and idiosyncrasies; what makes these folks tick?  Consider what’s at stake—for all characters.  What motivates them?  Why would they pursue one specific action/response over another?  What’s in it for them?

Throw in a few monkey wrenches.  Don’t make anything overly easy for your main character(s).  Let them vigorously track solutions and ways out.  Conflict, tension and friction are vital—you want those unsettling twists and turns, but not so many (or so minor) that you muddy the storyline or have readers scratching their heads and going “huh?”.

Settings and backgrounds, missions/quests, must be detailed enough that readers can visualize them.  In fact, every component should be crisp and clear; again, you want to avoid any head-scratching (but, then, this holds for any book/genre you decide to write).  And part of this is pacing—keep it swift and uncluttered with unnecessary information.

Research, too.  Get a feel for events that would work in a thriller (espionage comes to mind) and use them, fictionalize them.  With thrillers, there’s that extra layer of excitement (events and actions) that goes beyond simply following clues to corner that crafty culprit.

WP111thrillerClipartdotEmailGrab readers from the get-go.  Start with a sinister or shocking—riveting—act.  Add action regularly, but don’t just shove it in there for the sake of it.  Make sure it makes sense, that it moves the plot along, and that it isn’t so fantastic or abundant that it becomes a bit of a bore.  And don’t forget to insert some suspense; hint at upcoming threats and risks.  Create anxiety.  This builds on that layer of excitement, which urges readers to keep—you got it—reading!

Add questions along the way—through narration or dialogue—so readers are as curious as the main character(s) and yearn to learn the answers.

Lastly, make that ending dynamic and convincing; it’s a crucial moment in your book.  It shouldn’t be limp or expected (and, if it were, your readers likely gave up reading long before they reached this pivotal point).  This is where can tie all your loose ends together or, if you’re planning a sequel, leave some things open to the imagination . . . and the sale of your follow-up book.