ohhhh <3 i could live here
The academic urge to study every ancient mythology.
the unofficial official art for tsoa
By Alice Blake
Narrative Botox: Filler Words and Phrases to Look Out For
If you’re planning on publishing traditionally, chances are you keep a sharp eye on your word count. Literary agents and publishing houses are on the hunt for the best quality stories that they can print for the cheapest price (using the least paper and ink), so you have a higher chance of gaining representation if you can crank your novel out in the least words possible.
However, filler words and phrases aren’t only the enemies of aspiring traditional authors; every writer—fanfic, novelist, journalist, you name it!—should try to eliminate filler from their stories to assure more concise and high-quality writing. Oftentimes, filler contributes nothing but clutter, and without it, your narrative can flow smoother and in a more sophisticated manner.
But how do you know what’s filler and what’s not? Here are some tips on how to Ctrl+F and kick this narrative botox to the curb!
I compiled these lists with the help of Infusionmedia, BDR Publishing, and ResetEra !
A writer’s worst enemy, and the bane of my manuscripts’ existences. Eliminating all the ‘just’s can cut down your word count by hundreds.
2. “That” as a conjunction
It’s an unnecessary addition to a sentence, which will be more streamlined without it.
Example: “He said that he wouldn’t do it again.”
Revised: “He said he wouldn’t do it again.”
3. “Now” as an adverb
“Now” is essential if you’re talking about the past and present, but when you’re using it to draw attention to a particular statement or point.
Example: “Now, I didn’t think it’d get so out of hand.”
Revised: “I didn’t think it’d get so out of hand.”
4. Redundant adverbs
These adverbs serve no purpose because the verbs they’re describing already imply the way the action is performed.
5. “Telling” words
These words are redundant, especially when using first person, because in describing an event, we can already assume that the characters are experiencing it.
6. “Clarifying” words used to portray definiteness or indefiniteness
Although these are meant to help out the readers get their bearings on a situation, all they do is come across as wishy-washy! Be concise and sure of yourself!
1.“Let out (vocal noise)”
Use the verb instead!
Example: “He let out a sigh.”
Revised: “He sighed.”
2. Using passive voice
Passive voice inflates your word count by including various “to be” verbs into the prose. Passive voice involves actions happening to a subject rather than the subject performing an action, and as a result isn’t as riveting to the reader as active voice; even if it wasn’t a matter of word count, you’d still want to get rid of it anyway!
Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out this article from Grammarly.
Example: “The boy was bitten by the dog on his arm.”
Revised: “The dog bit the boy on his arm.”
3. Describing the wrong noun
Many writers will be as specific as possible about what “thing” is affected by the event they’re describing, when it’s much simpler to take a step back and write about something more general.
Example: “The level of water rose.”
Revised: “The water rose.”
4. Phrasal verbs
Phrasal verbs are the combination of two or three words from different grammatical categories—a verb and an adverb or a preposition—to form a single action. Usually, these phrasal verbs can be replaced by a single-word verb.
“Ask for” can be replaced with “request”
“Bring down” can be replaced with “reduce”
“Come across” can be replaced with “find”
5. Clarifying phrases
Same reason as clarifying words. Get to the point!
In a sense
6. Remember your contractions!
Even if your story takes place in olden times, I can guarantee that if you never use any contractions ever, your story’s gonna be a clunky mess. But sometimes you’re in the moment, consumed by the poetic power of the muses, and forget that this isn’t a soap opera; so make sure you check that you’ve been using your contractions!
It is, it was, it would, she is, would not, should not, is not, does not etc.
7. Inflated phrases
These phrases can be replaced with more concise words.
Along the lines of (shorten to: like)
As a matter of fact (in fact)
As to whether (whether)
At all times (always)
At the present (now or currently)
At this point in time (now or currently)
Be able to/would(n’t) be able to (could or couldn’t)
Because of the fact that (because)
By means of (by)
Due to the fact that (because)
Even though (though or although)
For the purpose of (for)
For the reason that (because)
Have the ability to (could)
In light of the fact that (because)
In order to (to)
In regards to (on or about)
In spite of the fact that (though or although)
In the event that (if)
In the nature of (like)
In the neighborhood of (about)
On the occasion of (when)
On one/two separate occasions (Once/twice)
The/A majority of (most)
There is no doubt that (No doubt)
Wasn(n’t) capable of (could or couldn’t)
Hope this helped, and happy writing!
THIS IS NOT A DRILL
THIS IS NOT A DRILL
THE STRICTLY NO HEROICS (Feiwel & Friends, Macmillan Children’s, 2023) COVER JUST DROPPED!
[ID: cover of a book showing a figure in a gasmask, hoodie and gloves, leant on an old TV. A rainbow pride pin is pinned to their jacket. Text reads ‘STRICTLY NO HEROICS’ in neon pink and green, and ‘B. L. Radley’ in white.]
If you're a powerless normie in a world run by superheroes, you need three rules to survive:
1: Keep your head down
2: Don’t make enemies
3: STRICTLY NO HEROICS
When a hero gropes her best friend, Riley Jones breaks all of them.
Her attempt at serving justice gets her fired from her summer job. Luckily, Sunnylake City’s biggest business is booming (literally, when there's C4 involved).
Every villain wants henchmen: masked cronies who take their coffee orders, vacuum their secret lairs, and posture in the background while they fight. The HENCH agency provides a steady stream of drop-outs and losers who are willing to get beaten up by sidekicks for minimum wage.
Riley might just be the perfect candidate.
I’ve worked so hard on this project, with an incredible team of people. And we’re getting closer to that sweet, sweet pub date (March 28, 2023)!
Any boosts would be greatly appreciated <3 Let’s give my debut some love?
If you like queer & wlw content, teenage activists organizing strikes, and superhero stories from the perspective of the civilians... this is the book for you!
(If you’re short a bob but still want to get your hands on this glorious beast of a novel, consider requesting that your local library buy it! x)
when the character that always plays the caretaker for everyone gets taken care of >>>>
that’s the real trope right there
the reader urge to collect all the penguin classic hardcovers just for it’s aesthetics.
my best advice for writers who want to sell books, write screenplays for network tv and films, and write for well-known magazines is to always have something to show.
i know we get on here and joke about how we call ourselves writers but don’t actually write much of anything. but please, if if it’s a page, have at least something to show. original story, a fanfiction, or an article about a show you can’t stand. whatever, just have something.
because you never know that day may come were someone wanted to see your writing you talk about for an opportunity and you don’t have anything to show.
LUKE IS ON EXEGOL, WHO KNOWS IF IT’S A VISION OR IF HE’S REALLY THERE OR WHAT, AND WRAITHS ATTACK HIM AND HE TRIES TO FIGHT THEM AND THEN HE’S SAVED BY THE FORCE GHOST OF ANAKIN, I’M GONNA FUCKING SCREAM!!!!!
(Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith | by Adam Christopher)
Hello, sorry if you've gotten this question before but do you have any tips for writing a scene in which a character gets drunk? Since I can't drink, I feel that my scenes sound like a teenager wrote them. Are there any behaviors/dialogue quirks to avoid so it doesn't sound inauthentic?
How to Write A Drunk Character (For People Who Can't/Prefer Not To Drink)
Drinking is a social activity that a lot of people love to partake in, and although drinking is often associated with rambunctious behavior now a days, "sharing a drink" with your friends is one of the oldest forms of companionship in history.
Having your characters get drunk together can not only be a spot of humor in an otherwise serious story, but also can be a way to build relationships and bond; after all, when they're drunk there is an element of trust they need to have in the people around them, in order to make sure they'll look out for them/won't do anything bad while they're in an incapacitated state.
However, if you haven't experienced it yourself--for whatever reason--it may be difficult to write how a character acts when they've had a bit too much to drink.
Here are some general tips on how to write a drunk character.
1. How much does it take?
One thing that is a dead giveaway that an author has never drank or gotten drunk is when a character starts to feel the effects of alcohol after one sip. For most people, that doesn't happen.
How fast a character gets drunk depends on a few factors:
Size (height, weight)
If they're used to drinking a lot
The type of drink being consumed
How fast they drink in a short period
If they've eaten recently
A character who is 6'5" and 250lbs who drinks like a horse every night is going to get drunk a lot slower than a 4'11" character who's 100lbs soaking wet and has never touched an alcoholic beverage before.
If someone gets drunk easily, they're called a "lightweight," however, someone can shed their lightweight status with practice (i.e. drinking regularly). The faster they drink, the drunker they'll get, and if they're on an empty stomach, it'll hit them a lot harder.
You also have to be aware of the kind of drink they’re consuming, and the alcohol percentage of each one; the higher the percentage, the faster it’ll get them drunk. Here are some percentages of Alcohol By Volume according to Sunrise House Treatment Center.
Vodka | ABV: 40-95%
Tequila | ABV: 50-51%
Gin | ABV: 36-50%
Rum | ABV: 36-50%
Whiskey | ABV: 36-50%
Fortified Wine | ABV: 16-24%
Unfortified Wine | ABV: 14-16%
Liqueurs | ABV: 15%
Malt Beverage | ABV: 15%
Beer | ABV: 4-8%
As you can see, liquors (which are grain-based alcohols), are some of the heaviest hitters here. They're usually taken as shots (vodka, whiskey, and tequila especially), which is also a reason why they're the main perpetrators of drunkenness; not only are they strong, but they're also taken quickly.
If your character isn't a fan of shots, they can cut their drink with something else to create a mixer, such as lemonade, seltzer, or even water.
Note: The only TRUE way for your character to sober up is with time. Cold showers and other remedies may help the side effects, but the levels in their blood will not wane until it fully goes through their system.
2. How Does It Feel?
There are a few stages to drunkenness that fluctuate throughout the night as your character is drinking.
Stage 1: Sober
Your character has had nothing or only a little to drink. They are still sharp, alert, and acting normally.
Stage 2: Tipsy
Tipsy characters are still alert and can hold conversation, basically sober people but a bit "looser." They may have had a glass of wine/a shot or two and are now starting to feel the effects of the alcohol in their system.
Tipsy is the tip of the iceberg, and here are some characteristics of being tipsy that many people exhibit while they're drinking:
More talkative, conversation comes easier
Cognitive thought processes are slowed
Shorter attention span/easier to space out
Decision-making skills are less refined (more likely to take risks, "voice of reason" is quieter)
Short-term memory is poorer
Walking may come with a some difficulty, as there's a slight head rush and bodily orientation is a little thrown off (kind of like the full-body version of "you're now blinking manually"), but there isn't usually a high risk of falling or stumbling.
Overall, a tipsy person could hold their all in a public setting, albeit with some struggle.
Stage 3: Drunk
Once your characters have teetered off the ledge of "tipsy" and into "drunk," there come some changes to their demeanor. For some, their entire personality changes when they're drunk (which will be discussed later).
On top of this, many people exhibit bodily changes such as:
Loss of coordination/balance issues
Struggle to make proper judgements
Attention deficit, struggling to focus
Struggle to remember things, and not just short-term
Mood swings; many drunk folks are easily excited or saddened, and can be set off at the smallest things.
Needing to pee (A first pee of the night is called "breaking the seal," as once your character breaks the seal, they will have to consistently pee after that)
Stumbling, unable to walk in a straight line.
Drunk characters can still act independently but should be accompanied by friends to make sure they don't do anything stupid. Drunkenness is sometimes described as puppeteering your body from the outside. Things slip and slide through your thoughts, unable to grab a hold and process one, and this can be exacerbated by flashing lights and loud music.
You still think, sure, but it's not cohesive or comprehensive. Your characters' thoughts will be more stimuli-driven than reason/contemplation-driven. This is why a drunk character cannot be trusted to make concrete decisions.
Stage 4: Blackout
If a character is blackout drunk, that means they've really surpassed their limit. Most of the time, blackout drunk people cannot function on their own, and must need assistance from their sober friends or their less-drunk companions.
The reason blackout drunk is called that is primarily because a character will not remember what happened the next day. In the moment they are thinking and talking (albeit in a limited scope), but when they finally sober up they will have no recollection of what they did or said.
Some symptoms of being blackout drunk include:
Confusion. A character may not know where they are or who they're with.
Exhaustion, at a high risk of passing out.
Needing assistance to stand or walk, or walking with severe staggering.
Horrible short and long-term memory
Slurred speech (although you may want to avoid writing out people slurring their words and instead use "s/he slurred" or some other indicator to make sure it's legible)
A blackout drunk character may put themselves in risky situations without knowing it, which is why they should be under supervision to make sure that nothing bad happens.
Stage 5: Hangover
Some people are blessed with no hangovers, but unfortunately the older your characters are, the more likely they are to get them. A hangover can really ruin your character's day-after, especially if they blacked out, although some pain relievers from over the counter should be able to help them out slightly.
Possible symptoms of a hangover from Mayoclinic.org:
Fatigue and weakness
Excessive thirst and dry mouth
Headaches and muscle aches
Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
Poor or decreased sleep
Increased sensitivity to light and sound
Dizziness or a sense of the room spinning
Decreased ability to concentrate
Mood disturbances, such as depression, anxiety and irritability
Good luck to your character, because depending on how much they drank, it's gonna be a rough one.
3. How Do They Act?
Many people drink during parties in part to change their personality, especially if they tend to be shy while they're sober. While drunk, your character may have more fun than they would if they hadn't had anything, or may consider "lame" things exciting and interesting.
According to the University of Missouri's study of 374 undergraduates, there are four types of drunk personalities:
1. The Mary Poppins
These people are friendly when sober and remain friendly when they get drunk, perhaps getting even more affectionate and lovey. They won't really stir up any trouble and are usually quite amicable, albeit they have lowered inhibitions and decision-making skills.
2. The Hemingway
These people don't change too much when they're drunk. Their levels of intellect and self-discipline shift less than they do for others. Although they may feel the same effects, they may not outwardly show it as much as others do.
3. The Nutty Professor
These people are introverted when sober and extroverted when drunk. Shy, quiet people transform into the kings and queens of the dance floor or the most sociable partygoers you've ever met. They lose all inhibitions and tend to be loud and outgoing in a way that they most definitely weren't when they were sober.
4. The Mr. Hyde
These drunks are more commonly known as "angry drunks." While they're drunk, these people show significant decreases in agreeableness, intellect, and carefulness when they're under the influence. They're typically less responsible, less intellectual, and more hostile when drunk than when they're sober, and are the most likely to stir up trouble.
Hope this helped, and happy writing!
With my book coming out soon, I thought I'd take this as a chance to answer a very tough question:
What's the Best Way to Support an Indie Author? Where should you buy their books? 🤔💵
Big post incoming!
Before we start talking about the wild, wild world of 👑royalties👑, I want to make this crystal clear:
The best way to support an indie author* is to BUY OUR BOOKS. Straight up. Paying for our hard work is good enough.
You want to support me? Easy. Buy my book.
*Now, let’s say you don’t care where you get the book from or your goal is to make sure most of your hard-earned money actually goes to the indie author rather than some corporation… then, in that case, read on!
So… what the heck are book royalties anyway?
When you purchase an indie eBook the money you spend is split between the author and the retailer. Depending on the split, more or less of your money will actually end up on the hands of the author you’re trying to support.
This differs from traditional publishing, where the author receives a lump sum as an advance from the publisher (which is then split between author and agent).
The publisher then sells this book on other storefronts, which further splits where the money actually goes.
PS: It is not until the book has actually generated as much revenue as the advance that said author begins to *actually* earn royalties on books sold, which may be as little as cents per book to a percentage of each sale.
To further confuse matters, different retailers offer different royalty rates! 😵
Where should you purchase books from if you want to super-duper support an indie author?
Well, let me give you a tier list—beginning from the TOP!
S TIER: Author's Personal Shop
Buying a book directly from an author's shop is by far the best way support 'em. Outside of a small % that goes to cover for credit card fees (~5% in my case), pretty much all of your money goes to the author.
If the author has a shop—buy it from there!!
A TIER: Itch.io
It's not just for games, you know! Its royalty rate is one of the most generous with a default 90/10. This is crazy-good compared to most other retailers.
Seriously, more authors should start selling their books on Itch.io!!
B TIER: Most Retailers
Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books, and Kobo all offer a 70/30 split. It didn't use to be like this, tho!
If you like to have all of your books on the same platform, buying an indie author’s book through these platforms is honestly A-OK! 👍
C TIER: Amazon
Amazon has a default 35/65 rate (ouch) and has the option for a 70/30—but it's not easy. The latter option is not available in all territories and has many prerequisites.
Also, one way to get the 70/30 split is to *exclusively* sell your title on Amazon (ooof).
As if Amazon’s system wasn’t already confusing enough—there’s also *delivery fees*. Yes, you read that right. Amazon charges the author for the delivery of the digital item based on the file size, nickle-and-diming you like it's 2004 and you went over your text message limit.
I don’t want anyone to feel bad for buying books through Amazon. Like I said before, the best way to support us is to buy our books—no matter where you get them.
A sale is better than no sale at all. 🤞
The reason I set out to write this is because the average person has no clue that where you buy a book from actually matters.
You spend your hard-earned money wanting to support an indie author and the bulk of that Hamilton doesn’t even go to them.
And now you know. 🧵🔚
Every so often I remember that Diane Duane and her husband spent their honeymoon co-authoring the star trek novel The Romulan Way. Legends only.
"Maybe we're just born to love and worry about the people we know, and to go on loving and worrying even when there are more important things we should be doing. And if that means the human species is going to die out, isn't it in a way a nice reason to die out, the nicest reason you can imagine? Because when we should have been reorganising the distribution of the world's resources and transitioning collectively to a sustainable economic model, we were worrying about sex and friendship instead. Because we loved each other too much and found each other too interesting. And I love that about humanity, and in fact it's the very reason I root for us to survive - because we are so stupid about each other."
- Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You
Sometimes I think about making a "novels with queer relationships that are dark and fucked up" rec list for Hannigram folks, but honestly I feel like... some of the books I would put on there would make people run the other way lolol.
ETA: I did it, here it be.
Storm Fleet Warnings | by Timothy Zahn
NEVER HAS THERE BEEN A MORE ACCURATE SUMMARY OF A CHARACTER.
Anakin: [waxes poetic about Obi-Wan]
Anakin: [immediately doubts Obi-Wan because he won’t let Anakin murder everything in his path without regard]
Anakin: I’M GONNA FIGHT EVERYTHING. I KNOW I CAN.
ANAKIN SKYWALKER. WHAT A CHARACTER I LOVE HIM SO MUCH I FEEL LIKE IT’S A SUPERNOVA OF FEELINGS JUST LOOKING AT THIS DISASTER CHILD.