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  • Jennifer Z. Major

Stupid writer tricks.

A few thoughts about what I learned along the way...

I started writing fiction in late December of 2011.

I learned how to copy and paste a whole lot later.

We are talking MONTHS, if not at least a YEAR.

My friend Lisa Lawrence was a MASSIVE help to me those few hundred thousand words. I am fairly sure she taught me the ancient art (go with me) of copying and pasting without actually saying "Hey, Loserella, watch this...".

Before that?

I'd just re-type, umm, everything.

It'd be real nice if you all stopped laughing.

And let's talk about Times New Roman 12 point font, shall we???


I like other fonts, ya know.

Some are really nice.

Some are downright pretty.

But apparently, agents and editors prefer a select few.

Because some can be really annoying to read over and over again.

Thus, Times New Roman, it is.

Oops, sorry.

And learning to format a page was a blast.

Because there's a standard industry way of going about things.

Creativity is FINE, in the manuscript.

Not on the submitted work

Sentence structure variation

is important. Because no one

wants to keep the same tempo go

ing in their head. All through the book

which makes the whole thing dull.

Research accuracy is REALLY REALLY REALLY important.

For my work? Let's establish a few things.

Navajo people live in what is called a hogan. "Ho-gone"

Not tipis, not longhouses, not thatched huts, and certainly not caves.

Their names are not like Lakota names, like "Dances with Wolves", or "Rides Like an Arrow".


But I did take a teeeeeny liberty with one name, but I explained it in the book.

Make sure when discussing ANY history, in a serious manner, that the names, dates and places are factual, and build your story from there.

But about something minor, like a secondary location? A place that isn't meant to alter or interfere with a cultural or historical event of great importance. What if you need a place to be near another place? But there isn't a place there?

Hello, fiction! This is where creativity can be fun, without being obtrusive and offensive.

A writer shouldn't take some place like The Alamo and move it to California. But, he or she can put a town "twenty miles down a dirt road from The Alamo" and not cause problems.

Something like that is handled in the author's notes. A phrase such as "while there is no real town of San Palomo, the author took the liberty of putting one there for story purposes".

Last but not least?

Word count!!

Thinking of submitting a 179,000 word document to an agent or editor for their attention?


Less is more.

Waaaaaaaaay more.

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