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Book Coach Lisa Tener
Awarded the Silver Stevie Award for Mentor/Coach of the Year 2014
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Bring Your Book to Life
by:  Lisa Tener
January 19, 2017

7 Quick Writing Tips to Bring Your Words to Life

After I sent some feedback and writing tips to a client, I spent time editing her revised manuscript. I was thrilled to see the author’s writing improve so dramatically from one draft to the next.

Eureka! Whatever I told her, I realized I should share with you today. Every writer loves to know what she (or he) can do better to improve her writing and make it sing. These writing tips can make a world of difference in your own revisions.

Today’s writing tips all focus on making the words leap out from the page and form a picture for your readers. Whether you are writing a how-to book, memoir or even a novel, you will truly draw your readers in if you paint a scene and share stories.

Sure, your book may have its abstract moments, but here we will focus on 7 writing tips that make your stories come to life—whether you are writing brief anecdotes that support your self-help tools or part of a larger narrative, such as a memoir.

1. Paint the scene at the beginning. Have you ever had the experience of reading a story and imagining the character in one place, only to find three paragraphs later that the room was dark, not light; the character was surrounded by people, not alone as you had thought; and that it took place in the car, not the office? Not only does such construction confuse your readers, it frustrates them and takes them out of the magical world you are creating (yes, even in a brief self-help anecdote!). Instead, picture the scene in your mind and make the essential details clear up front.

2. Be specific about placement:

Don’t make your readers have to guess whether your sister stood above you, sat next to you or put her head in your lap as you spoke. You can clarify placement by the verbs you use (“she sat” “she stood”). You can also clarify it by picturing the scene in your mind very clearly and then writing. Don’t overdo this (“She used her right hand to reach for the object on her right.”). Keep it simple and sparse, yet clear.

3. Use specific verbs to make imbue actions with emotion and motivational cues:

“She went to the store.” – WEAK! “She walked to the store.” – BETTER. “She sprinted to the store.” – GOOD. “She dragged herself to the store.” EVEN CLEARER.

4. Let your readers draw the conclusions.

Don’t you go telling me that he was nervous and she was nuts. Instead, have him do something that shows he’s nervous—a tic, a stutter, wiping the sweat from his hands. Have the dialogue show how nutty she can be. As a reader, I get to draw the conclusion of what the action means and now I’m engaged, rather than hearing some ho-hum account with the life sucked out of it.

5. Avoid overuse of adverbs.

Swiftly, slowly, angrily—these are shorthand ways of conveying information without much life. Instead, tell me she sprinted or ran; that he shuffled; that she threw a vase.

6. Take the time to find the perfect word.

In a first draft, feel free to be lazy and allow the words to flow quickly without weighing them. However, in your next draft, look for the places where you used a word more than once, or used a word that doesn’t feel as precise as you might like. Use a thesaurus and see if you can get at “le mot juste.”
Read aloud. Reading aloud always helps you hear what works and what needs work.
Your Bonus Writing Tip

7. Enjoy yourself. When you have fun writing and editing, your readers get to share in that fun. Write or edit outside (if it’s warm enough). Or write and revise somewhere cozy and inspiring. All the things you do to bring yourself into a light and happy space will bring light into the writing and reading experience—without your having to try. Your writing just naturally picks up your state of being.editing

Looking for tips on how to write a nonfiction (how-to, self-help, memoir) book that transforms your readers lives?

Join me and Samantha Bennett for the free seminar: How to Write a Book that Transforms Your Readers’ Lives on January 25 at 8:30 PM ET, 5:30 PM PT. Sign up here for free.

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January 21, 2015

How to Get Published: BLOG! How to Blog Successfully...Read On

First time nonfiction authors often ask me how to get published. My favorite answer? Blog. Several of my clients were contacted directly by editors at top publishing houses who had read the author's blog. One even said, "We want a book about this topic." A few months later, the blogger had signed a six figure book deal for his first book. Another first time author had several offers from publishers, one of which had contacted her directly because of her blog.
It may sound magical, but I know how much work these authors put into both writing their books and developing their platform, or following. And the most extensive part of their platforms? Blogging. These successful first time authors learned how to blog successfully. One of these authors saw visitors to her website grow from 60 unique visitors a day to over 1,000 –EACH DAY!
Did she do anything fancy? No. She blogged successfully about the topics in her subject that her target audience want to know more about—topics they are searching on. And she provided valuable, high-quality posts, many of which now show up as #1, 2, or 3 in a Google Search.
Another client received an offer from a top publish for a $150,000 book deal for his very first book. It wasn’t magic, either. He learned how to blog successfully, blogged consistently and pitched a blog to Psychology Today. He wrote informative, trendy and entertaining posts that often ended up on the front page and also got picked up by the Huffington Post where they were prominently displayed.
A publisher reached out to him suggesting a book on a topic he’d blogged about—not his original book.
Blogging successfully doesn’t just help your book. It helps your business. Many of my clients report that they’ve gotten new business from a blog post—as have I.
So what are the secrets to successful blogging? Here’s how to blog successfully:
1. Write about what your target market wants to know.
2. When writing a title, use keywords that they would search on. I will sometimes forfeit a catchy title for one that has the right keywords, because that’s how people find the post in Google—not because it’s catchy.
3. Use those keywords in the URL (the link to the page).
4. Use those keywords in the post as well—not in an awkward, overdone way, but they should be in the post at least 3-5 times, depending on the length of the post.
5. Link to other quality posts on the subject or the keyword on well-reputed sites like Wikipedia, Psychology Today, WebMD, Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, etc.
6. Write what the reader wants to know—answer their questions (if you don’t know what those are, find out), provide valuable information, possibly add stories or examples and make it interesting.
7. Make it entertaining: play with words, add some humor or add a compelling story or anecdote.
8. Make it interactive: ask readers about their experience and invite them to share, or offer to answer their questions about the subject. While interactivity on blogs has gone down in general, a number of people still comment.
9. Make it easy to comment. I can’t tell you the number of times I've given up on a comment I wanted to make on someone’s blog because I could not easily comment (maybe it required remembering a password or was just a clunky process).
10. Be social: share relevant posts on social media and tag the authors. Then when you share your posts, they are more likely to share your links. Sharing other relevant posts is also helpful to your audience so it’s a win-win-win.

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A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

Awarded the Silver Stevie Award for Mentor/Coach of the Year 2014, Book Coach Lisa Tener specializes in helping experts, enlightened entrepreneurs and others write and publish a compelling how-to book, self-help book or memoir—taking them step-by-step through her unique process. She teaches on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s CME publishing course, national writers conferences and award winning Bring Your Book to Life(R) Program. She blogs on writing and publishing on the Huffington Post. Her clients have signed 5- and 6-figure publishing deals with Random House, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hay House and many other publishers, as well as self-published.

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