Monday, March 7, 2016

Writing Nutrition 101 by Sandie Bricker

Author/Editor Sandra D. Bricker

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you probably know I had bariatric surgery in September of last year. In the six months since that adventure, I’ve lost 80+ pounds and learned more than I ever thought there was to learn about portions, proteins, carbs, vitamins, and exercise.

While working out at the gym last week, my thoughts wandered to a new writing project I planned to start that afternoon … which led me to think about trimming the fat and strengthening my writing. I thought you all might like to read about the results. With the end goal of getting in (writerly) shape, here are some tips that might be helpful:

Cut the extras. You know how snacking gets in the way of a balanced eating plan, right? Yeah. That. When a word or two will do, refrain from using the four or five you nearly chose. This is a good first step toward overall health as a writer.

Avoid fatty choices. Lean chicken and fish are often recommended over beef and pork, right? In that vein, if you have what I like to call whack-a-words – words you tend to throw in by rote (e.g., really, very, actually, and then) – get into the habit of performing a search of your finished document to evaluate where you can make other, more nutritional choices instead … or even delete them entirely.

No pain, no gain. Every writer fights the urge to tell a detailed backstory before the real action ever gets started. It can be a hard pill to swallow when editors tell you – often in more than one or two instances – that your real story begins with Chapter Two (or three or…). Part of improving your writing and developing stronger muscles is learning to take those frequent reminders and apply them on your own (so they become less frequent!). Yes, I realize those first couple of chapters are rife with pertinent details and stellar turns of phrase, and it might really pain you to remove them. But at the cost of remaining stagnant in your development as a writer, do you really want to allow them to linger, thwarting your progression? As Nike encourages, “just do it.” Bite the bullet and cut them. You’ll be stronger for it.

Fight your inner couch potato. Passive voice can give your story a jiggly, somewhat lazy quality that no writer wants to share with the world. As both an editor and an author, I have a low tolerance for the potholes passive writing brings to a story’s road. I certainly don’t recommend that every WAS and WERE be eliminated; however, I do suggest revisions wherever it seems natural and/or possible to do so.

So there you have it. Losing dead weight and toning your body is never easy. But by taking some baby steps, you can see some real progress. That’s true in developing as a writer as well.

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SANDRA D. BRICKER was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rear view mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and a best-selling, award-winning author of Live-Out-Loud fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press, and she was also recently named ACFW’s Editor of the Year for her work as managing editor of Bling! Romance, an edgy romance imprint for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. As an ovarian cancer survivor, Sandie also gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.