Avoid the January Writing Blahs by J. L. Greger

I like to curl up in January and forget my writing. Big mistake! Do you lose energy during the cold days of winter? Maybe these tips will encourage you to make progress on your writing projects in January.

1) Write every day. My definition of writing includes: researching topics, composing text, editing, and publicizing the work. The advantage of writing a bit every day is I’m forced to think about my plot, characters, and style frequently.

2) Organize your writing. I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, but I keep a running list of characters (with short profiles) and a timeline. These tools make it easier for me to quickly pick up my writing every day.

3) Edit. I know a few authors claim they only need to edit their work once; I'm not that good. I find the editing task less daunting if I break the process into three steps and do each after I complete a chapter or two. (Of course, I still have to edit again after I complete the first draft.)

These questions should be considered during a content edit. Are the facts (scientific, historic, geographic) correct? Are locations described vividly and accurately? Are the characters interesting and consistent? Do major character "grow" during the arc of the story? Is the timeline realistic?

 The style edit is hard to define but important. Novels are generally more interesting if dialogue, action sequences, and psychological development of characters are interspersed so that the pace of the novel varies. The point of view should be clear in each scene.

The edit for word choices, grammar, and typos often seems like an endless process. I try to reduce the use of "overused” words, replace weak verbs with action ones, tweak sentences to be active not passive, and check for spelling and grammar errors (which I euphemistically call typos).

4) Read. When I’m stumped on how to present a scene or develop a character, I read someone else’s fiction—short stories or novels. As I read their work, I try to imagine how they would handle my “problem.”

I hope you’ll want to check out, my latest thriller, I Saw You in Beirut. It’s available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1610092201.

In I Saw You in Beirut, a mysterious source of leaks on the Iranian nuclear industry, known only as F, sends an email from Tabriz: Help. Contact Almquist. Intelligence sources determine the message refers to Sara Almquist, a globetrotting epidemiologist, and seek her help to extract F from Iran. As Sara tries to identify F by dredging up memories about her student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her work in Lebanon and the Emirates, groups ostensibly wanting to prevent F’s escape attack her repeatedly. She begins to suspect her current friendship with Sanders, a secretive State Department official, is the real reason she’s being attacked.

Bio: JL Greger’s thrillers and mysteries feature a middle-aged woman protagonist, Sara Almquist. She includes travel to exotic places, tidbits of science, and lots of action in her novels because she is an inveterate traveler and a biological scientist. Her novels include: Malignancy (winner of 2015 Public Safety Writers’ annual contest), Ignore the Pain, Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, and Coming Flu. Bug (shown in the picture) rules their house and is a character in all her novels. Her website is: http://www.jlgreger.com


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