Monday, October 14, 2019

What is the Definition of a Professional Writer?


By DiAnn Mills

Do we have a clear idea of what it means to be a professional writer? Is it defined by the number of publications? Is the term equated with a particular genre or how long a writer has labored at the craft? The amount of the advance? Is the definition subjective and of little value? Perhaps the easiest way to describe a professional writer is to show what that looks like in the publishing world.



Accomplished
An accomplished writer is one who has spent hours perfecting the craft and gained recognition through publication. The work is hard and usually a solitary process. The writing life involves developing a tough skin to accept constructive criticism, rejections, edits, rewrites, and submit again.

Aware
The professional writer strives to create quality manuscripts by being aware of what’s happening in the world. The writer is concerned and creates posts to address heartfelt needs of readers.

Career-Minded
Professionals face the challenges of their calling by establishing and achieving goals. The writer weighs the writing project, style, voice, networking, and social media content with their brand to determine if the manuscript is a good fit.

Expert
A professional writer is an authority about one or more topics related to the craft. An expert is capable of providing knowledge to others by offering explanations and instruction that are valued. The publishing industry respects a self-confident and reliable writer.

Skilled
A writer enriches a reader’s life by using words as building blocks for effective communication. It’s an art accomplished by knowing how to place words in easy to understand language. The process also includes using correct grammar, punctuation, and mastering techniques to create an unforgettable experience. We enhance our skills through life experience and training.

Student
A student is one who takes an interest in a subject and strives to learn more about it. The professional writer who embraces student status chooses the road of seeking more knowledge about the publishing world. This focus includes enhancing our skills in the craft, marketing, promotion, and constant changes in the writing industry. A student practices the art of continuous education.

Teacher
The best teachers of writing are those who are accomplished, aware, career-minded, an expert, skilled, and embraces the role of a student. These people are role models. They offer advice and sometimes mentor those who are serious about their calling.

Are you on a path to professionalism?

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Shoot the Weasel Words


By Andrea Merrell

Pet words and phrases, more commonly known as weasel words, are a major problem. All writers have them, even those of us whose job it is to edit them out of other writers’ manuscripts. 

If you’ve been writing for a while, you're most likely familiar with your own weasel words. If not, here are a few of the most common: that, just, really, surely, however, therefore, suddenly, quickly, quietly, softly, certainly, began to … 

The list goes on and on … and on.

Recently, I discovered a few of my own hiding in my current WIP. Let me share them with you: in fact, after all, tried to, cringed, possibly, probably, and struggled. You might be asking yourself what’s wrong with these words? Absolutely nothing—unless you do a word search and find them used forty times or more. Talk about a reality check. Ouch!

Few things are more annoying to readers than redundancies, especially seeing the same words and phrases over and over. I’ve read a few books over the years that I wanted to throw across the room because of too much repetition.

So, what’s a writer to do? We have to be aware of our pet weasels, be willing to part with them, find them, then shoot them. Bang! As they say, don’t marry your words.

Let’s look at a couple of examples, and you decide if the italicized words are necessary in the sentence.

  • Suddenly, Rae struggled desperately to keep her footing as she tried to survey the damage. Instead: Rae struggled to keep her footing as she surveyed the damage.

  • After all, may I at least reimburse you for the flowers? Better: May I reimburse you for the flowers?


Here’s another one for you to untangle:

  • Scott certainly thought that Karen was really just up to no good, so he suddenly moved quickly and quietly to the window just so that he could begin to see what she was doing.


Pretty bad, right? How about this? 

  • Scott thought Karen was up to no good, so he moved to the window to see what she was doing.


Do you see how eliminating those pesky weasel words tightens your writing? Be sure to do a word search and get rid of those little varmints. Your readers will be glad you did.

What about you? Do you have your own set of weasel words? We would love for you to share them with us.


(Photos courtesy of Morguefiles.com/mensatic and FreeDigitalPhotos.net/pandpstock001.)

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