Author: Staci Troilo

Writer. Editor. Marketing consultant. Publisher.
Revisions and Elevator Pitches

Revisions and Elevator Pitches

Booksie AnswerDear Booksie,

I’ve been working really hard on my dystopian space opera/fairy tale mashup novel. It’s got all the cool elements of the genres I mixed, and it starts with a really neat description of a dark and stormy night. It took me three whole weeks to write these 200,000 words. I think it’s just about ready to be sent to the publisher. What’s my next step?

Cordially,

Thrilled to be Finished

 

Dear Thrilled,

Ah, the excitement of completing a novel. All writers feel that heady rush. And that first time? Well, you’ll never feel quite like that again. Congratulations.

Now for the tough-love portion of my reply. Grab a box of tissues…

You’re nowhere close to ready to submit. Sorry. I don’t have to read your draft. I know. Don’t send it to anyone. Heck, don’t show it to anyone. It’s not ready to meet the world yet. You’ve got a lot, and I do mean a lot, of revising to do.

Revisions

  • First, consider your genre. (In your case, your “interesting” mashup of genres.) Have you followed the necessary tropes for that genre? It’s okay to break the rules, but not for the sake of innovation. Only break the rules when you completely understand them and have a great reason to do so.
  • Next, go on Amazon and look up bestsellers similar to yours. Check their word or page count. If you’re too low, you’ll probably need to add description. If you’re too high (and believe me, 200,000 words is way too high), you’ll need to cut.
  • Remember the phrase, “Kill your darlings.” said by just about every author you’ve ever read? Do that. And do it again. And again. And again. Just because something sounds good doesn’t mean it belongs in your novel. If it doesn’t define character or advance plot, kill it.
  • Read each scene by itself. Does it start with a hook and end making you want to turn the page? Does it serve one specific purpose (either being an action or a reaction)? If not, fix the issues.
  • Consider the work as a whole. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Does it answer all the questions you implied you would answer? If not, clean up the problems.
  • Read it again for grammar, punctuation, typos, etc. Fix all those issues, too. Then go back and do it all again. (Joan Hall recently wrote a post on proofreading. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out.)

Okay. By this time, you’ve been through your novel several times. Are you now ready to send it to a publisher?

No.

Now you need to share these pages with your critique group and/or beta readers. Take their comments into consideration. And revise again.

When you’re confident you’ve done your very best and there’s nothing more you can do, it’s time to submit to a publisher. To do that, you need an elevator pitch and a synopsis.

The Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a quick description of the crux of your novel. It’s called that because you’re to picture yourself in an elevator with an agent, editor, or publisher. You have only three floors to wow them. What do you say? (Think ten seconds, or fifty words.)

If you can answer five questions and put those answers together into a brief paragraph, you’ve got an elevator pitch. Try this:

  • Character (or characters, if you have two POV characters). This is more than a name. This is the identity plus a key descriptor for the character.
  • Situation. This is the problem the character is facing and why action is necessary.
  • Objective. What is your character’s goal? What is the one thing they wish to accomplish? (This should be an answer to the problem faced above.)
  • Opponent. This is where the antagonist is mentioned. Try to avoid “evil for the sake of evil” and show the unique and compelling details of this foe.
  • Disaster. This is the climax of the novel. Not the resolution of the novel. The climax. The black moment. The point in the story where it all hits the fan. (Note: your pitch should not reveal the resolution to the problem. If it did, there would be no reason for anyone to read the story.)

Okay. If you can answer these with vibrant words and string them together into one to three sentences, you’ll have a solid pitch.

Here’s (what should be) a well-known example. (I’m using the better-known film rather than the book.):

  • Character—Dorothy Gale, a sweet farm girl from Kansas
  • Situation—She’s stranded in Oz and can’t get back.
  • Objective—She wants to see the wizard so he can send her home.
  • Opponent—The Wicked Witch of the West, who wants to kill Dorothy for the murder of her sister and the theft of the powerful ruby slippers.
  • Disaster—Dorothy must defeat the witch and bring proof to the wizard or he will not help her.

Here’s the first draft, where I’m not worried about word choice or word count:

A Kansas cyclone sweeps sweet, innocent Dorothy Gale over the rainbow to the wonderful land of Oz, where she is blamed for the death of a wicked witch. Stranded, she sets off to find a powerful wizard to send her home. His payment for his services is the demise of the Wicked Witch of the West, who is determined to kill Dorothy for dropping a house on her sister. With the help of three new friends, Dorothy sets off to face her greatest enemy—but only one will survive.

Not bad. Eighty-nine words. Now it’s time to tighten.

Here’s the second draft, where word choice becomes more important and word count matters:

Swept over the rainbow by a Kansas cyclone, young Dorothy Gale finds herself stranded in the wonderful land of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West blames her for killing her sister and stealing her magic slippers, so she determines to kill Dorothy and take the magic for herself. Dorothy and her new friends seek a powerful wizard’s assistance, but his payment is the death of the wicked witch. When Dorothy faces her greatest enemy, only one will survive.

Better. The sentences are tighter, and we’re down to seventy-nine words. But there’s still room for improvement.

Third draft:

Swept over the rainbow by a cyclone, Dorothy Gale gets stranded in Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West blames her for killing her sister and stealing her magic slippers, and she threatens Dorothy’s life. To avoid danger and get back home, Dorothy seeks the help of a powerful wizard, whose payment is the death of the wicked witch. When the battle commences, only one will survive.

Okay. Down to sixty-seven words. One more revision should get us to fifty or less.

Final Draft:

A cyclone sweeps Dorothy Gale over the rainbow to Oz. Stranded, she seeks help from a powerful wizard. He won’t send her home until she kills the Wicked Witch of the West, who has been terrorizing Dorothy for killing her sister. Who will survive their epic battle?

Goal achieved at forty-seven words. I could continue tweaking to really make it shine (and I would suggest that), but we don’t have all day. Please note—the pitch is written in third person, present tense. No matter the POV or tense of your novel, always write your pitch (and your synopsis) in third person, present tense.

Now that you’ve got your pitch, what are you going to do with it? You don’t send it to agents or publishers.

Well, for starters, memorize it. People will always ask what your book is about. This is the answer.

Booksie QuestionWhy’d I tell you to write this now, before your synopsis, when it doesn’t get sent to anyone? Because having a fifty-word description of your book will help you maintain focus as you work on your novel synopsis. You need a suscinct statement regarding what your story is all about.

Learning how to craft a synopsis is a long and detailed process. It’s probably best if we tackle that the next time. Actually, I believe author K. E. Lane wants to discuss it, so keep your eyes out for that one, coming soon.

Until next time…

Booksie

PS—Send Booksie your publishing and writing questions. He’ll sort through them and post his answers.

Staci Troilo

Five Benefits to Participating in Anthologies

Five Benefits to Participating in Anthologies

anthologies
Anthologies

If you peruse the AIW Press website, you’ll see we’ve published a few anthologies, and we currently have another one in the works. If you’re a novelist, you might wonder why you would ever consider writing a short story for inclusion in such a compilation. After all, it takes writing time away from your ongoing novel projects.

Don’t let that discourage you. There are five advantages to participating in an anthology.

(1) Writing short works helps you hone your writing skills.

When you participate in anthologies, you will most likely have to adhere to a set word count, one that is substantially smaller than that of the novels you’re used to writing. While this virtually eliminates the possibility of introducing secondary characters and developing subplots, it does teach economy of phrase.

When every word counts, writers tighten their prose. They eliminate filler words, passive voice, weak writing, or tangential thoughts—pretty much anything that requires extra words. No um’s or uh’s or well’s. No “was walking” when “walked” suffices. No “walked slowly” when “strolled” captures the mood better. No drifting into a daydream that doesn’t advance the plot.

These things slip in when we write novels, but they don’t really belong there, either. And just think how strong your novels will be when you develop these stylistic choices and apply them to your longer works.

(2) Publishing with other authors helps you reach a larger audience.

When you only write novels, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to work with other authors and have introductions to their fans. Yes, you could participate in novel boxed sets (something I also advocate), but novels are much longer, and if your novel is placed in the back of the set, readers may never get around to reading it.

If you write a short story for an anthology, though, the chance of readers reading through the very last contribution is much higher. Also, in addition to the readers who chose the anthology because of the subject matter, there will be people who read the anthology specifically because they are fans of one of the contributors. This affords you the chance to reach a dedicated fan base of not just one, but several of your peers—an opportunity you otherwise wouldn’t have.

(3) The contacts you make can lead to a larger marketing pool, both now and in the future.

The other authors are going to market the anthology to their readers. This essentially means you get free marketing to a different audience simply because your work is compiled in the same place. It also means you might be able to market a little less than you do for your own singular works, because several people will be sharing this information. (No need to overdo the marketing and make readers tired of the promo.)

But there’s a future benefit, too.

You will get to know the anthology authors and their work. When you have something else to market—for example, a new novella or novel—you can call upon these contacts and request help getting the word out. Perhaps they’ll review an ARC or offer you guest posts on their blogs. And what author can’t benefit from more exposure?

(4) The short story can be used to introduce one of your longer works.

Regardless of the theme of the anthology, you can write a companion piece to an existing novel or series. This can be an excellent marketing tool.

For example, say you have a paranormal romance series you’d like to promote, and you have an opportunity to contribute to a horror anthology. You could tailor your horror story so that it’s a prequel or sequel to the first book in your paranormal romance series. You might even choose to weave in a little romance so readers have a better understanding of what to expect in the series. As long as the story meets the requirements for the anthology, you’ll have a great introduction to your longer work placed in front of an already interested audience.

(5) The short story format allows you the opportunity to explore different genres without committing time to compose a longer work.

This is kind of opposite to number four. Instead of expanding your series offering, you might take the opportunity to try something completely different from what you normally write. For example, a regency romance writer might choose to craft a futuristic sci-fi story.

What do you gain from such a departure?

Well, not only do you get to flex your creative muscles, the departure might actually recharge your batteries and give you a fresh perspective on the novel you’re working on. Furthermore, you may just find another genre that you enjoy writing in and a new fan base should you decide to become a multi-genre author.


These are just five of the benefits to writing short stories for anthologies. Can you think of others? Have you contributed to an anthology before? Why not share your experience with us? Leave a comment below.

 

Staci Troilo

Four Steps to Writing a Substantive Book Review

Four Steps to Writing a Substantive Book Review

FeedbackIf you’re on a publisher’s site—like, for instance, this one 😉 —you likely know book reviews matter. Amazon determines your ranking and whether they’ll promote you in part by the number of reviews you have. Readers use them to determine if they want to buy your book. Promo sites like BookBub use them as criteria for acceptance.

Despite their importance, a perusal of Amazon book reviews shows many are virtually useless due to their lack of pertinent information.

Let’s consider these reviews:

  • Great book.
  • I loved it.
  • Not my cup of tea.

Yes, those are actually reviews I’ve found on Amazon. Not really much there to help me make a decision. How about you?

Today, I’m going to give you the four-step blueprint for writing a substantive and helpful book review. This does not mean the review is a five-star recommendation. Helpful reviews can point out flaws just as much as they can showcase quality. But whether you want to sing the book’s praises or express (polite) dissatisfaction, there are steps to follow—steps that will result in a thoughtful and honest assessment of the text.

  1. Introduction
    This is where the title, author, and genre are provided. But there’s more to it. Give the reader insight into your reason for reading the book to begin with. Did the cover appeal to you? Was it a compelling description? A recommendation from someone else? Did you happen to stumble across it when you browsed a favorite genre? Also, consider sharing your feelings here. Did the cover, blurb, or book itself coax fond memories or inspire any desires? Your opinion matters, and it could be the difference between someone reading the book or moving on to a different title.
  2. Summary
    The back-cover copy isn’t long enough to tell people what the book is about. Spend a paragraph or two analyzing the content of the story. Talk about plot, character, setting, and pacing. Give readers an opportunity to know what’s in the book, but don’t reveal any spoilers. That would ruin their experience and could cost the author a sale.
  3. Analysis
    RatingsThis section reveals whether the book followed through on its promise. Did the blurb promise an epic romance, an action-packed quest, a suspenseful mystery? Tell the reader—again, without writing any spoilers—whether it met, exceeded, or fell short of your expectations. And tell them why. This is not the section where you say whether you liked the book. This is about success. If you are someone who only enjoys happily-ever-after endings and the book you’re reviewing ends with death and destruction, you won’t like it. And that’s fine. But was the book successful? Was it well-written? It’s not fair for you to pan the story just because of your personal preferences. Well-crafted stories should be given high marks, regardless of your feelings. And the opposite is true for poorly-written work. It may give you your happy ending, but if the characters were one-dimensional and the work riddled with grammatical errors and cheesy plot devices, it doesn’t deserve five stars.
  4. Result
    This is where you say whether you liked the story. Reviewers often start here, but it should come last because this section is actually the least important part of a review. In fact, it can be left off entirely. If you choose to include this section, consider making a recommendation rather than a proclamation. Instead of “I loved this story,” or “This book wasn’t for me,” maybe you can just say, “Fans of [insert another author name here] will enjoy this book.” It’s much more diplomatic, and it takes the pressure off you to reveal your private thoughts.

Tips:

  • You may not be able to leave a unicorns-and-rainbows review, but you can be constructive in your comments. Always strive to remain objective and polite.
  • If you are an author, be cautious about leaving blatantly negative reviews. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion, but Amazon could consider your review to be a personal attack designed to denigrate a competitor. If that’s their determination, they may delete your books and your account from their site.
  • If you really can’t think of a single positive comment, consider the possibility that it’s your own biases and not the author’s work. Try to give the benefit of the doubt and critique analytically rather than emotionally.
  • Remember, Amazon is the big dog in the yard, but it’s not the only dog. Add your review to Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, etc. You don’t need to write new reviews for each site; just copy and paste the original. It may take you a few extra minutes, but it won’t take too much longer and you could be helping an author gain traction in an overly saturated market.

Did I forget anything? Do my steps vary from yours? Let’s talk about reviews in the comments below.

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10 Ways to Improve Your Fiction Writing

10 Ways to Improve Your Fiction Writing

Top 10 Tips for Improving Your FictionLooking for a down and dirty list for story writing improvement? Look no further.

Here the top ten ways to hone your fiction writing skills:

10. Dissect novels you enjoy.
Look through your favorite novels by other authors for techniques and tricks to improve your characterization, settings, plot, pacing, dialogue, and exposition.

9. Keep your eyes peeled for sources of stories.
Watch people in public settings, take note of funny family events, analyze television shows and films, consider news stories. Ideas are everywhere.

8. Conflict is key.
Don’t let your characters have it too easy for too long. Conflict makes fiction interesting.

7. Hone your characters’ voices.
Don’t let all of them sound the same. Every person thinks and feels things differently in real life. Characters are no different.

6. Follow a three-act structure.
There’s a reason that formula is so prevalent in plays, film, and fiction. It works. The hook and rising action take up the first quarter. The three conflicts and responses take up the second two quarters. And the last quarter deals with the climax and resolution.

5. Work with a theme.
Whether you outline or not (and I’m an advocate for outlining), a theme will help you focus your message.

4. Symbolism increases the potency of your message.
Imagery and symbols can add continuity to your message and strengthen it.

3. Start with a strong hook.
After your cover and your back cover copy, your opening is what will determine if people buy/finish reading your story. Don’t start with scenery descriptions or back story. Start where the story really begins—with change to the status quo.

2. Use secondary characters to your advantage.
Secondary characters can provide necessary comedic relief and help advance plot. They also add a complexity, richness, and authenticity to your storyworld.

1. Vary your sentence structure.
Short, choppy sentences indicate high-action and tension. Long, descriptive sentence denote exposition and a break in the action. Both are necessary. Besides, the variety makes for more interesting reading in addition to indicating the pace.


So, there you have it. The top ten things to keep in mind when you write fiction.

And for every point I wrote up there, I bet you can think of ten of your own that I didn’t include. Why not share some of your tips in the comments below?

Not Our First Rodeo

Not Our First Rodeo

UnshodActually, yes, it is our first rodeo. Well, it’s our first western, anyway. We marketed this with the tagline: Not Your Granddaddy’s Westerns. Why? Because, well, for starters, there are no rodeos in this anthology. (Well, there is a small rodeo scene in one of the stories, but it’s not your average cowboy tale.) Not many of the stories fit into the “Old West” fiction trope.

When you think of westerns, you probably think of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Tumbleweeds and prairies. Old saloons and brothels. Six-shooters and dynamite. White-hat sheriffs and black-hat outlaws.

That’s the old west. And that’s fine. It’s a tried and true genre; one enjoyed by multiple generations.

The official definition of a “western” though is a story that takes place west of the Mississippi River. And that leaves a lot up to interpretation.

In Unshod, we accepted a wide range of stories—modern and historical, romance and action, realistic and supernatural. We accepted them because they embraced the definition of “western” in the broadest sense of the term, while allowing authors the freedom to explore many facets of the genre and readers to immerse themselves in various types of stories.

Traditionalists might be scandalized by the thought of a modern western or a supernatural love story, but many readers loved the contemporary twist this anthology offers.

As warmer weather rolls around and rodeos ride into towns across the country, we invite you to check out Unshod. They’re not your granddaddy’s westerns, but they’re darn good.Unshod

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Proud to Announce a New Generation of Westerns

Proud to Announce a New Generation of Westerns

UnshodAIW Press is proud to announce the western of the 21st century. Nine talented authors seamlessly blend the enormity of the vast open prairie and imposing mountain ranges of the old west with the fresh perspectives of modern technologies and problems—and melds them into a new version of a western.

These stories are set west of the Mississippi, but don’t expect gunslingers and duels at High Noon. These stories are more sophisticated, more subtle, more thought-provoking.

Feel the pain of a young Japanese girl who comes home from an internment camp after World War II and learns it’s easier to go with the flow than to fight the current.

Struggle with an expectant mother on the cold winter prairie while she waits for her husband to come home from a hunting trip.

Journey with a young woman to the Four Corners as she tries to connect with her Navajo ancestors.

Try not to believe in the superstition of the blue moon—if one dies, three more will follow.

Know that one way or another, life will change inalterably that day.

Walk in the footsteps of an old cowpoke who thought he made the deal of a lifetime.

Suffer the torments of a young lady who wants desperately to marry but seems destined never to wed.

Walk the wild western paths and run from unimaginable dangers.

Choose between an unhappy life of luxury or a happy life of simplicity.

Nine female authors pen western tales that you’ll want to retell around a campfire. These aren’t your granddaddy’s westerns. They’re the next generation’s, and they’re darn good.

Unshod’s authors. Please give their sites a visit:

Jan Morrill
Pamela Foster
Staci Troilo
Joan Hall
P.C. Zick
Janna Hill
Michele Jones
Francis Guenette
Lorna Faith

You can download Unshod here:

Amazon | B&NiBooks | Kobo | Inktera | Scribd | 24 Symbols

Cover Reveal–Romance Under Wraps

Cover Reveal–Romance Under Wraps

Romance Under Wraps Final 4.14.16

AIW Press is proud to reveal the cover for Romance Under Wraps by Michele Jones.

Michele has always been interested in the paranormal and her new release reflects that. She loves vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and zombies, but she wanted to do something a little different in this work.

Today, we are pleased to share with you not just the cover for her upcoming novel but a brief excerpt as well.

Set at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.in Pittsburgh, her novel highlights ancient Egypt and one of her main characters is, you guessed it, a mummy.

Here’s a look inside:

“ C’mon. This is the delivery we have been waiting our whole lives for. And this crate?”
Zet flinched when three sharp raps vibrated the box surrounding him.
“This one is labeled ‘sarcophagus.’”
“Meredith, we really shouldn’t.”
Another round of silence. This girl needed to listen to her friend, to give him what he desperately desired, a view of his surroundings.
Wait―did the crate move? Thank the gods. How fortunate. That girl convinced her to open the crate. Finally, to be able to look around.

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Michele’s new novel. Romance Under Wraps will be available soon for purchase at most major eRetailers.

Creating the Perfect Protagonist

Creating the Perfect Protagonist

Stephen King on CharactersHe’s tall, dark, handsome, rich, smart, sophisticated, kind, philanthropic, loves his family and kids and animals, owns a rescue dog, is former military and yet still cares for the environment.

Are you sick to your stomach yet? Because I’m more than a little nauseated. If this guy really exists, only a small part of me wants my daughter to marry him. Mostly I just want to find dirt on him, because really, no one is that perfect. He’s hiding something. Or he’s going to make me feel bad about myself until the day I die.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret for writing fiction.

Be prepared for a four-letter word here. It’s one you hear so often in fiction, but I have to use it.

Think about your hook.

You’ve heard it a million times. The opening of your novel is so important. You only have a small window to get to that quintessential moment where you’ve hooked the reader.

  • Begin in the middle of the action (in media res) and you could confuse the reader. What’s happening? Who are these people? Why should I care?
  • Begin with too much setup, too much backstory, and you risk boring the reader with too much history, losing them before they’ve become engrossed.
  • But if you begin just before the hook, you have just enough time for us to see who the protagonist is in his regular life before a big change happens. That way, we can like him or feel sympathy for him or fear for him when the inciting incident occurs.

So it all comes down to establishing a character in his regular life just before the thing that changes everything. We need a reason to like this person. And the reason can’t be because he’s perfect. If he’s Mr. Tall-Dark-Handsome-Etc. that I described in the opening, it’s time to sit down and revise this character… unless that’s just a facade he projects to the world. If he has some hidden emotional scars and secret flaws that we’re going to learn about, then great. But if he’s really that vanilla, then, sorry. No. Prince Charming was already written centuries ago. Don’t plagiarize. Create someone new.

Stephen King says: I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.

The great writers create characters we can relate to, characters we sympathize with, characters we like and root for. Only once we’ve bonded with them will the writer turn their worlds upside down. But we’ll be hooked from that first word, because that character isn’t perfect.

He’s just perfectly suited for the world the writer has created.

The Power of Deep POV

The Power of Deep POV

Point of ViewPeople often speak about point of view in fiction. Omniscient, first, second, and third. We’ll talk about each briefly, then get into the meat of the matter.

Omniscient Point of View

This POV has fallen out of favor with the modern reader. Think “God” when you think of this POV. This is the voice that knows everything—every character’s thought. Every motive, every action. All the evidence, all the results. It kind of takes all the fun out of reading the story. There are benefits to it, sure, but more often than not, writers use it because it lets them be lazy. It’s a lot easier to switch to Larry’s POV to show he’s injured at the bottom of the Grand Canyon than to have Kathy figure it out from her kitchen in Hoboken.

First Person POV

This is the “I” point of view. The story is told from one person—me. This narrator can be reliable or not, that’s up to the author. But the pronouns are always first person. Be careful not to overuse them. While many people will argue that this is the easiest form of fiction to write (because this is how we naturally think), it’s also the easiest to abuse. These pronouns pop up like weeds because we can’t always easily substitute proper nouns in their place.

Second Person POV

This is the “you” point of view, most often seen in instruction manuals. These days, video games and adventure books use it. It doesn’t lend its form easily to traditional fiction, but it has been adapted by some of the masters in powerful ways—Tolstoy, Atwood, Faulkner, Camus, Hawthorne, McInerney, Calvino… the list is longer than you would think. This is a difficult form to pull off, but one worth exploring as a fun and challenging exercise.

Third Person POV

This is the “him/her/them” or the “he/she/they” point of view. There are two sub-types of this POV:

Third Person Limited

This is where you follow only one character throughout the story. You can only know/see/think/feel/experience the storyworld through that character.

Third Person Multiple

This is where you follow more than one character throughout the story. It is best to limit yourself to maybe two main characters (say a male and female romantic couple) or in a mystery or thriller or horror, perhaps no more than five people, just a core group. If your cast gets too big, it can get difficult for you as the author to make their voices all different. You also don’t want to make it difficult for your readers to keep track of all the characters.


Okay, you’ve chosen your point of view. You’ve outlined your plot, created your character bible. You know what you want to say and you’re ready to say it. Now what?

Time to write. Right? Right.

It doesn’t matter what point of view you’ve chosen, what matters is how deep you get into it.

The whole benefit to deep POV is that the author becomes the character, and consequently, the reader becomes the character. In order to do that, the ubiquitous “show, don’t tell” comes into play.

Let’s look at the following examples. (Please note, these examples will be simple for effect.)

First Person POV

Original:

I felt my heart race.

Revised:

My heart raced.

Third Person POV

Original:

She felt her heart race.

Revised:

Her heart raced.

The point of these simple sentences is to show you the difference a few simple words can make. In the originals, the use of the word “felt” lends a distance to the sentences. It brings the reader out of the head of the character, keeps them from experiencing the storyworld first-hand. Instead of the reader’s heart racing right along with the character, the reader is pushed out of the story and told that the character’s heart raced. The character doesn’t even get to experience it real-time.

In the revised sentences, the removal of the barrier word brings the reader back into the story. Now we’re showing, not telling, so we’re experiencing everything in the moment. The storyworld is opened to the reader. There is no more disconnect, no more separation between reader and character.

So you see, deep POV can make all the difference between a reader feeling like she’s being told a story and feeling like she’s living your story. Take the time to gouge out those extra fluff words that are doing nothing but creating barriers, and you’ll be crafting a tighter, stronger piece of fiction.