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~Welcome, Marlene! It is always a pleasure to have you visit MBA&M~

How to Improve Your Writing Style

Marlene Bateman

There are many elements of good writing but perhaps one of the least understood is style. Just what is style? Style is not what you write but how you write. Voltaire said, “Every style that is not boring is a good one.”  But how do you improve something as nebulous as style? Over time, I’ve come up with some simple things that can enhance your writing style.

1.          Use a thesaurus to look up words that are colorful and precise and mean exactly what you want to say.  You know thousands of words, but they don’t always rise to the surface of your brain. Adjectives are not efficient and should not be your first choice.  The best thing to do is replace words, not modify them.  Replace house with mansion, cottage, hovel, or duplex. William Strunk said that adjectives are “the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words.”  Adjectives do great work when they are needed, but too often they are brought in when they are not needed. One thing to remember is that adjectives tell, verbs show.  Turn adjectives into verbs whenever possible.  For example, turn impatient into “looked at his watch” or “tapped her foot.”

2.          Use simple words but don’t confuse simple with dull.

3.          Writing gets more interesting as it acquires precision, not length.

4.          The smaller the number of words you use to contain a thought or an image, the more impact that thought or image will have.  Let me give you an example: Lee was a mean woman.  Lee was a shrew. Want another example? He passed away early in the morning, and people all over America cried.  He died at dawn and the nation wept. Do not put extra words in a sentence for the same reason you don’t tape two windshield wipers to the windshield of your car: they wouldn’t serve any purpose, and they would get in the way.

5.          Be wary of adverbs. Adverbs crop up when you use a weak verb and try to boost it.

6.          Use strong verbs that are active, vivid, specific and familiar.  One example of this is; Buster ate his dog treats quickly. It’s much better to say;  Buster gobbled his dog treats.  Don’t use weak general verbs like walk, cry, fall, and touch if the situation calls for plod, weep, collapse, and caress.

7.          Say things in a positive way.  Show readers what you want them to see, not what you don’t want them so see. Here are some examples; Do not say, “He was not a generous man,” say, “He was a miser.”  Do not say; “The painting it did not have any flaws,” say, “It was a masterpiece.”  Do not say, Phil was not a graceful person,” say, “Phil was a klutz.”

8.          Show, don’t tell.  Showing means creating a picture for the reader.  You can say a person seemed impatient.  Or you can show that by saying, “She looked at her watch constantly.”  Or; She asked, “Are you almost done?”

9.           Avoid clichés.  They are tiresome.

10.       Appeal to the senses.  Through the sense of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch, we reach out to the world.  Bring your writing alive with the sounds, the smells, the flavors, and the peculiar tactile sensations that come from textures and temperature and motion.  Remind the reader that this written world is the same one he lives in.  It sparkles, it roars, it rubs against him and sometimes it stinks. The senses are touchstones for the reader.  Return to them often.  They work.  Don’t say it was noisy at the baseball game.  Mention the crack of a bat, the whizzing of a fast ball, the roar of the crowd, and the heckling from the bleachers.

11.       Put emphatic words at the end.  Emphasis tends to flow to the end of a sentence, so if there is one word or phrase you want to say a little louder, put it at the end.  This is especially important when you are trying to be funny.

12.       Keep it simple.  Write in a simple, direct, unpretentious way—with every sentence an arrow aimed at exactly what it means to say.  Remember you are trying to do one thing, tell a story.

Thank you for stopping by today! We wish you much success in your writing career. Thank you for your tips on improving your writing style!

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A Cover for A Death in the FamilySynopsis ofA Death in the Family (from the author)

Meet Erica Coleman—a gifted and quirky private investigator with an OCD-like passion for neatness and symmetry, a penchant for cooking, (ten terrific recipes are included), and a weakness for chocolate.

In A Death in the Family, the second in the Erica Coleman series, private eye Erica Coleman and her family happily anticipate Grandma Blanche’s eighty-first birthday celebration in the picturesque town of Florence, Oregon. But when the feisty matriarch, a savvy businesswoman, suspects wrongdoing and asks Erica to investigate her company, things get sticky.

Before the investigation can even begin, Blanche’s unexpected death leaves Erica with more questions than answers—and it is soon clear Grandma’s passing was anything but natural: she was murdered. When another relative becomes the next victim of someone with a taste for homicide, Erica uses her flair for cooking to butter up local law enforcement and gather clues.

Erica’s OCD either helps or hinders her—depending on who you talk to—but it’s those same obsessive and compulsive traits than enable Erica to see clues that others miss. When she narrowly escapes becoming the third victim, Erica is more determined than ever to solve the case.

 

Excerpt from A Death in the Family

            “It’s hard to believe she’s gone,” Kristen said dolefully. “When I moved here, I thought I’d have years with Grandma. She was always so active—I thought she’d keep going for years.”

“And all the time, her heart was getting weaker,” Trent said glumly.

Walter commented, “The last time I saw her, Blanche said the doctor told her she had the constitution of a mule.”

There were a few smiles at this, but Martha’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But Mom’s death didn’t have anything to do with how healthy she was.”

“What are you talking about?” Trent’s impatient voice billowed out and filled the small room.

Martha squirmed but fluttered on, “Well, after what Mom said when she came to visit me, you know—about how something wrong was going on in the company—I worried that something might happen.”

Her response reverberated around the room. Everyone went very still—as if they were holding their breath. 

Martha’s eyes went from one to another. “I didn’t mean—oh, I shouldn’t have said anything,” she stammered. Her voice was pure distress. “It’s just that . . . well, we’re all family here, so it’s okay, isn’t it? I mean, no one else knows.”

“No one else knows what?” Trent said brusquely.

Visibly flustered, Martha’s hands twisted in her lap. “And . . . and Mother was very old and—and the police haven’t even come, have they?”

Erica wondered what Martha could be getting at. Everyone darted quizzical looks at each other, trying to make sense out of Martha’s confused chirruping.

After meeting blank looks all around, Martha blurted, “I mean, that’s good . . . isn’t it? For the family?”

The room remained deadly silent as Martha’s cheeks flamed red.

There was a rumble as Walter cleared his throat. “Why would the police come?”

“Why, to arrest someone.” Martha sounded surprised—as if he had asked something that was completely and absolutely self-evident. She stared at Walter, as if he and he alone could straighten everything out. “Isn’t that why they’re doing an autopsy? I mean, don’t they always do an autopsy when someone has been murdered?” 

A Death in the Family can be purchased online:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Death-Family-Erica-Coleman-Mystery/dp/1621085732/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393108321&sr=1-1&keywords=a+death+in+the+family+by+marlene+bateman

Deseret Book: http://deseretbook.com/Death-Family-Marlene-Bateman/i/5120025

Seagull Book: http://www.seagullbook.com/lds-products-823999.html

 A Death in the Family is available at physical bookstores such as Deseret Book and Seagull Book, as well as other LDS bookstores.

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About Marlene Sullivan…..

Author Biography

Marlene Bateman Sullivan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they are the parents of seven children. 

Her hobbies are gardening, camping, and reading.  Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and has written a number of non-fiction books, including:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, Brigham’s Boys, and Heroes of Faith.  Her latest book is Gaze Into Heaven; Near Death Experiences in Early Church History, a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences from the lives of early latter-day Saints.

A Cover for Motive for MurderMarlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murder, which is the first in a mystery series that features the quirky private eye with OCD, Erica Coleman.

 CONNECT & SOCIALIZE!

Website: www.marlenebateman.info

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~GIVEAWAY ALERT~

(Sponsored by the publisher and/or author)

We are offering 1 lucky commenter a print copy of A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Marlene Bateman. SORRY, open to US residents only! 

Giveaway will run from March 31 until April 4, 2014.

*You will have to re-visit this site to see the winner*

GOOD LUCK!

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COMING SOON! (April 23, 2014)

My Thoughts, on A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Marlene Bateman, on our sister site, MyBookAddictionReviews

Please be sure to stop by and check out My Thoughts!

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~Have a great week~

Happy Summer!!

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