Writing tips

The Internal Editor

The Internal EditorI met with someone the other day who brought up an interesting point.  What do you do when you can’t turn off the internal editor?  When she/he is ruining all attempts to get words written?

Here’s what I do:

  • Black out your computer screen.  If you can’t see the words, you’ll be less tempted to go back and correct them.
  •  Use XXXX.  Whenever I’m stuck on something–the perfect word, the fact I should research on the internet, I type in XXX.  Later, I can do a search and replace the XXX’s with what I thought I needed.  In most cases, the story is fine without it.
  • Set a timer.  Set a timer for a short amount, maybe ten minutes, then give yourself permission to write as fast as you can, ignoring punctuation, word choices, etc.  As a reward, you promise your internal editor free reign after the slotted time period.
  • Give yourself permission to write dreck.  Even if you think you’re writing dreck, it’s good dreck.  Not every building can be the Taj Mahal.  Sometimes you have to start with a straw hut and make a lot of improvements.
  • Throw your internal editor in a closet and lose the key.
  • Participate in a Book in a Week challenge or National  Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November.  My writing group typically holds a Write a Book in a Month contest between the February meeting and March meeting.  Participating in such a challenge automatically gags the internal editor.  There’s no time to stop because the focus of the task is word count, word count and nothing but word count.

Try one of these tips the next time your internal editor starts screaming at you.  You’ll get more written than you think.



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We're told as writers to use all five senses. Here's a list I found that describes colors other than the basic red, blue and yellow.

We're told as writers to use all five senses. Here's a list I found that describes colors other than the basic red, blue and yellow.We’re told as writers to use all five senses. Here’s a list I found that describes colors other than the basic red, blue and yellow.  Use this list to enrich your writing.



Onyx, Ebony, Lampblack, Midnight, Blue-black, Carbon, Coal, Raven, Jet, Shadow, Ink, Black Pear, Anthracite, Sable, Obsidian, Pitch, Pepper, Soot, Opaque, Licorice.


Amethyst, Lilac, Magenta, Violet, Blackberry, Mauve, Indigo, Orchid, Heliotrope, Dewberry, Plum, Grape, Lavender, Egg Plant, Heather.


Jade, Grass, Forest Bluish-green, Emerald, Aqua, Moss, Seafoam, Pine, Mallard, Sea, Malachite, Mist, Verdant, Pea, Hunter, Leaf, Pistachio, Kiwi, Spearmint, Aquamarine, Lime, Olive, Caledonia, Chartreuse, Kelly, Sage, Apple, Spruce, Mint, Celery, Periodot, Dill Parsley, Holly, Fern, Baltic, Frog Kelp, Avocado, Lettuce, Eucalyptus, Fatigue, Bayberry, Loden, Gooseberry, Bottle, Fir, Basil, Willow.


Azure, Electric, Wedgewood, Neon, Turquoise, Periwinkle, Cornflower, Powder, Sky, Peacock, Slate, Zinc, Rosemary, French, Air Force, Ultra Marine, Indigo, Sapphire, Steel, Ice, Lapis Lazuli, Marine, Delft, Arctic, Mallard, Bluebird, Carpi, Union, Wisteria, China, Teal, Royal, Cobalt, Robin’s Egg, Baby, Navy, Glacier, Federal, Moroccan, Denim, Ensign, Blueberry, Chambray, Bluebell, Mediterranean.


Milk, Quartz, Cream, Ecru, Magnolia, Opal, Linen, Winter, Angora, Frosty, Almond, Cauliflower, Birch, Swan, Cotton Seed, Pearly, Eggshell, Ivory, Alabaster, Oyster, Parchment, Stone, Moonstone, Champaign, Cameo, Sugar, String, Diamond, Snowdrops, Natural, Rice, Vanilla, Jade, Oatmeal, Lily, Salt, Chalk, Snow, Bone, Antique, Muslin, Cement, Gardenia, Taffy, Plaster.


Smoke, Silvery, Tattletale, Charcoal, Pewter, Sooty, Salt and Pepper, Dun, Pearl, Slate, Cloud, Cannon, Armor, Chinchilla, Aluminum, Mortar, Tin, Gunmetal, Hoary, Steel, Funeral, Battle ship, Diesel, Nickel, Lead, Quicksilver, Ashen, Dove, Concrete, Iron, Graphite, Artichoke, Platinum, Tinsel, Mercury, Primer.


Fool’s Gold, Burnished, Flaxen, Butter, Blond, Brass, Sandy, Mustard, Topaz, Buttercup, Forsythia, Honeydew, Coreopsis, Cat’s Eye, Cheese, Tawny, Palomino, Jonquil, Platinum, Honey, White-gold, Wheat, Chamois, Pear, Butterscotch, Corn, Citrine, Maize, Goldenrod, Buff, Ash Blond, Straw, Cadmium, Daffodil, Primrose, Curry, Banana, Pineapple, Sunflower, Canary, Cornsilk, Marigold, Beeswax.


Ruby, Dusky Rose, Claret, Maroon, Ox-blood, Brick, Tyrian Cochineal, Blood, Lobster, Scarlet, Salmon, Candy Apple, Garnet, Crimson, Shrimp, Apple, Brass, Rubicund, Auburn, Cherry, Ashes of Roses, Vermilion, Strawberry, Currant, Coral, Rose, Wine, Burgundy, Tomato, Beet, Fire Engine, Red Amber, Rubellite, Youngberry, Mango, Magenta, Tabasco, Hot Pink, Fuchsia, Watermelon, Holy Berry, Barberry, Boysenberry, Geranium, Cardinal, Vermeil, Loganberry, Cayenne Pepper, Corn Poppy, Coralberry, Wineberry, Pepto-Bismol Pink, Bismuth, Cerise Carmine, Cinnabar, Bordeaux, Cranberry, Brandy, Canyon, Elderberry Shell Pink, Heather, Poinsettia, Coralbells, Tearose, Paprika.


Earth, Cocoa, Copper, Cinnamon, Tortoise Shell, Mahogany, Taupe, Tan, Henna, Fawn, Ginger, Rust, Khaki, Mushroom, Saddle, Brunette, Buckskin, Foxy, Chocolate, Bay, Sand, Toffee, Roan, Butternut, Coffee, Tawney, Rosewwod, Café au lait, Hazel, Ecru, Umber, Bronze, Nutmeg, Raisin, Maple, Tanned, Mocha, Walnut, Chili, Espresso, Cashmere, Clay, Potato, Tobacco, Bark, Amaretto, Suntan, Cordovan, Twine, Bamboo, Hazelnut, Driftwood, Peanut, Chestnut, Pecan, Camel, Spice, Mohair, Wicker, Timber, Pebble, Foxtail, Putty, Jute, Oak, Cashew, Butterrum, Mousy, Hickory, Drab, Acorn, Caramel, Cedar, Champagne, Suede, Butterscotch, Tea, Sandstone, Fudge, Redwood, Cognac, Burlap, Cappuccino, Desert, Latten, Soy.


Pumpkin, Burnt Orange, Terra-cotta, Raspberry, Russet, Melon, Berry, Carrot, Tangerine, Nasturtium, Peach, Trumpet Vine, Canyon, Coral, Apricot, Rust, Bittersweet, Cantaloupe, Titan, Persimmon, Marigold.

Compiled by Lisa Snider
Crayola Color Corner
Crayola® Crayon Chronology

Since 1903, when Binney & Smith introduced the first Crayola crayon, people have been fascinated with the heritage of our color names. You’ll find a summary of Crayola crayon history for now but come back soon and explore a detailed description of how each individual crayon was introduced, how the name was chosen, read interesting stories about each crayon, and more!

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Raise the stakes in your novel.

Does every scene raise the stakes of your plot?

Raise the stakes in your novel.

Raise the stakes in your novel.

Lately, I’ve been playing a little game called RTS.  It stands for Raise The Stakes, and it’s made a big difference in the tension of my novel.

In order to catch and keep your reader’s attention, you have to involve them with your characters.   You want them to love them or hate them, root for or against them, and be actively involved with them.  (Think of the audience in The Truman Show).  Every scene should create a dilemma for your character, leaving the reader to wonder how your hero/heroine will react and get out of this newest problem.  This is especially true at the end of chapters.  The absolute worst thing you can do is end a chapter where the H/H goes to bed.  This is known as the “back-of-the-toilet” scenario, whereupon your reader, metaphorically or literally, turns the open book upside down on the back of the toilet and leaves, possibly never to return to reading your cherished story.

What you want to do is raise the stakes for your H/H in each scene.  Whether it is major, like killing someone/finding a body, or minor, like having something prevent you from completing the report your boss really, really needs, some ACTION has to happen to prevent your character from going on her merry way.

No one wants to read a book where nothing happens.

Raise The Stakes, or RTS, came to me as I fine tuned my outline for the last third of my current WIP, The Dearly Departed Dating Service.  Of course, I wanted a HEA (happily ever after) for my heroine, but I want it in a specific way.  I kept thinking about how a totally different character from one of my favorite authors achieved a similar HEA (the plots are not even close in similarity).  I spent a few days reading her novel again.  First for pleasure, and second, deconstructing each scene.

How I deconstructed a novel

First, I established in whose viewpoint was the scene written.  This author fairly split the scenes between hero and heroine.  This effectively raised the stakes for the reader as switching between the H/H’s dilemmas kept them curious and involved.   You knew Joe had been hit with a new problem in the last scene, and here’s Jane getting hit, as well, but what about Joe?  Better keep reading.

Next, I wrote down who else was involved in the scene and why.  Each character has to have a reason to be there.  If not, get rid of him.

Next, I wrote a two or three sentence synopsis of what was happening in the scene.  More often than not, one of these actions was the RTS.  How can the Heroine pay back the money she owes when her job is threatened?  How can the Hero salvage an important meeting when someone shows up uninvited who he knows will ruin it?  What do you mean, you’re married?

As large or as small as each problem is, they incrementally suck your reader further into your story.  Each scene should raise the stakes, propelling the characters deeper and deeper into chaos until your reader has to keep turning the page.

Sure, it’s fun to write that scene where this or that happens to X, but if X isn’t disturbed by it, why would your reader want to spend time on it?  Dull scenes are the death of your novel.

An exercise for you

Take one of your favorite books off your keeper shelf.  You know, the one that kept you up until 2 a.m.  Deconstruct some of the scenes.  Maybe not the whole book, but enough to understand what the author is doing – swirling her characters down a whirlpool and taking you along.

Once you’ve recognized how neatly and masterfully your author has entrapped you, the reader, apply some of her methods to your own writing.  Take a current scene from your WIP and analyze it, keeping RTS in mind.  Are you raising the stakes for your characters?  What can you add that will make it worse for them?  Do you need to drop a secondary character or add someone else?  What EVENT has to happen to make things worse?

Whatever changes you make, ensure that your character is left off worse at the end of the scene than the beginning.  Your novel will be enriched, and your reader enthralled.

Happy writing!



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