How I Wrote and RE-WROTE Cover Copy for My Novel

How to Write Fiction Sales Copy by Dean Wesley SmithI recently read How to Write Fiction Sales Copy by Dean Wesley Smith, and it is excellent. Excellent! I can’t say enough good things about it.

In the course of writing “blurbs” or cover copy for my own stories, I’ve perused a lot of how-to advice for same. Some advice proved helpful. (And I needed a lot of help! Marketing does not come naturally to me.) Some of it sounded reasonable, but when I followed the instructions, I generated some of the worst copy of my life. And most of the advice available was geared toward non-fiction.

But Dean has succeeded in bottling lightning – or come very close to it, indeed.

In How to Write Fiction Sales Copy, he lays out two general guiding principles and then proceeds to describe seven patterns or “formulas” – the structural bones – for writing sales copy. He includes numerous examples (for real stories destined for the marketplace) illustrating each approach.

I learn best by example, so this was pure gold for me.

But the bottled lightning? After reading the 32 example blurbs, I wanted to go buy and read every single story they presented. Every single one! Now that’s successful sales copy!

lightning

TWO FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES

So what are Dean’s two guiding principles? Because I’ve taken workshops taught by him, I’d heard them before, and blogged about them, too. But in the interests making this post about cover copy complete, I’ll restate them.

1 • Stay out of the story’s plot.

Readers read a book to experience the plot in all its magnificence, told with all the skill that the storyteller can manifest. Regurgitating the plot in the sales copy will do nothing but wipe the wonder from it. It certainly won’t sell the story. There are better ways.

How do you know you are down in the plot? Your copy will have a lot of what boils down to “and then this happened.”

If you see a lot of “and then this happened,” you’ve done it wrong. Delete and start over.

If you’ve got a little dash of “and then this happened,” figure out how to get rid of it. The rest of your copy might be good.

Writing blurbs that sink into the plot of my story is my great weakness. I cannot tell you how many times I solicited feedback in Dean’s first workshop, “Pitches and Blurbs,” only to be told: “Nope. You’re down in the plot again.”

I must always check my blurbs for this problem.

2 • Use active verbs; avoid the passive voice like the plague.

That means avoiding verb constructions that require “is,” was,” “had,” “have,” and the like.

I’m lucky enough to possess a knack for avoiding passive verbs when I write sales copy. Occasionally an “is” sneaks by me, but that’s rare. However, most fiction writers, when they start writing sales copy, fall into either the trap of focusing on the plot of their stories, or the trap of using passive verbs, or both.

And no matter how agile I am at avoiding passive verbs, my tendency to dive into the plot still kills my blurbs just as dead.

Those are Dean’s two principles, and they are critically important, but it was his “formulas” and examples that really brought my understanding to a new level.

DEAN WESLEY SMITH’S BASIC BLURB PATTERN

In this blog post, I thought I’d talk about the first formula presented in How to Write Fiction Sales Copy and show…

Kay Nielsen art depicting a lassie aback a north-bear…not only how I used it to improve the sales copy for my novel Troll-magic, but the entire journey that particular blurb has traveled: from its first incarnation (when I knew exactly nothing about writing sales copy), through my poor first stabs at using copywriting principles, and on to my latest version, created after reading How to Write Fiction Sales Copy.

At the very least, you’ll get a good laugh at the absurdity of my student efforts. But I hope you’ll also learn a little something.

So what is the basic blurb pattern?

Paragraph 1: Introduce the protagonist and/or the world. Nail the genre, if at all possible.
Paragraph 2: Introduce the story problem. Limit yourself to the content of the first page of a short story, the first scene of a novella, or the first chapter of a novel.
Paragraph 3: Raise the stakes.
Paragraph 4: State why the reader wants to read the story, using largely genre tags or keywords.

Now, that is too abstract for me. I’m sure there are those of you who could go on swimmingly from there, but I am not among that lucky company, alas.

But no troll-witch permits...

AN EXAMPLE

So, to use an example, let’s look at each paragraph of the most recent, updated blurb for Troll-magic.

North-land spellcasters who summon excessive power transform into trolls – potent, grotesque, and hungry for control.

This first paragraph introduces the world – a fantasy world featuring spellcasters and trolls and malevolent magic – and identifies the genre.

Prince Kellor, cursed by the troll-witch Mandine to live as a north-bear, wrestles with the challenges of his beast form. Pain wracks his body. Unpredictable rages blur his mind. And his thoughts spin out of all sense, confusing his search for the loopholes that every curse possesses.

This second paragraph introduces the protagonist and his problem. Prince Kellor suffers from a nasty curse. Some way of escaping from it exists, but Kellor doesn’t know what that might be.

His curse turns on the choices of his childhood friend Elle. She once shared Kellor’s idyllic rambles through the wilderlands. She now loves all things musical. Might Kellor persuade her to neglect her own life and save his? Should he?

Troll-magic is not only a novel, but a l-o-n-g novel, told with five point-of-view characters, although largely from the vantages of Kellor and Elle. So this paragraph is really just an extension of the blurb pattern’s “paragraph 2.” It introduces Elle as key to solving Kellor’s predicament.

But no troll-witch permits her prey to escape with ease. The illusory loopholes in Mandine’s curse all twist back to its entombing heart.

Paragraph 3 raises the stakes. In other words: Not so fast, Kellor! Most curses have loopholes, but not this one. Not really.

J.M. Ney Grimm tells a lyrical Beauty and the Beast tale, rife with moments of shining glory and dark magnificence, tumbling toward a lethal battle of wills and the impossible choices forced by clashing loyalties.

Paragraph 4 tells the reader that Troll-magic is a beauty-and-the-beast type story, that its events produce feelings of exaltation in the reader, that its theme deals with catch-22 choices and stubborn frenemies, and that its prose is well-crafted.

(Many of my readers comment on my “lyrical prose” and remark that certain events in my stories evoke such strong feelings of sheer joy that they’re transported and amazed. So I include phrases that touch on those elements. They are reasons to read my work.)

No doubt this is far from a perfect blurb. I’m still learning. But you can see Dean’s formula for his Basic Blurb Pattern at work. And, as you’ll discover when you read on, this is far better than any blurb for Troll-magic that I’d produced before.

"Why had he never noticed...

MY ATTEMPT TO CHEAT FATE

Now let’s visit my first ghastly stab at a blurb for Troll-magic, which surely deserved better than I was able to give it at the time.

“In short, she was the friend from his childhood . . . and yet not his old friend: taller, hints of curves. Why had he never noticed she was beautiful before? All his planned introductions slipped away.”

Kellor’s a prince in trouble. Lorelin’s a musician trapped by bucolic traditions. Both must defy a troll-witch’s curse while navigating a maze of hidden secrets.

So what the heck was that?

It’s not really a blurb at all, but merely an excerpt from Chapter 6 of the novel!

I was so utterly clueless – and I knew I was clueless – that I didn’t even try to write sales copy. I picked a delightful moment on the story, quoted from the manuscript, and then added a brief gloss following the quote.

Which meant I spoiled that moment for the reader, because it won’t be fresh for him or her when those three sentences arrive. And I shirked the job that belongs squarely in the publisher’s court.

Many books that go through traditional publishing never receive the attention of the sales force, and thus the sales copy is written by a book’s acquiring editor or even the intern who read the manuscript. And sometimes that person does just what I did: quotes from the story and avoids writing any copy at all.

But that’s not the way to interest readers in a book. And I chose the indie publishing route because I wanted to do better than the mediocre job often done by traditional publishing for novels written by midlist authors.

Just because I’m bad at the marketing angle doesn’t excuse me from learning how to do it properly and giving my books the marketing support that all books need.

Fighting against a nightmare...

MY STUDENT VERSION OF THE BLURB

So let’s look at what I developed after my first class on writing sales copy for fiction.

Fighting against a nightmare pales beside fighting for a dream.

An accursed prince and her own longing for music challenge Lorelin to do both.

But tradition and a hidden foe stand squarely in her way. How do you make dreams real when vision fails, allies undermine you, and all roads toward hope twist awry?

Can courage, honor, and loyalty prevail against a troll-witch’s potent curse?

Set within her enchanted North-lands, J.M. Ney-Grimm’s new take on an old Norse folk tale pits distorted malice against inner wisdom and grit.

Courage, honor, and loyalty...

WHY IT FAILED

First off, it is an actual blurb, not a mere pretense at one. Score one for Ney-Grimm!

The first line is an excellent hook. Dreams and nightmares are emotion-laden words. Nearly everyone has awakened from a nightmare with pounding heart and sweat-drenched brow, because the monster had caught them, the villain had pulled the trigger, or the zombie’s teeth had sunk into their flesh.

And most of us have cherished heartfelt dreams that meant everything to us.

Pairing the two concepts – fighting against a nightmare, fighting for a dream – let’s just say that it pleases me, lest I toot my own horn too loudly. 😉

The last paragraph also heads in the right direction. It lets the potential reader know that I’ve written many stories set in my North-lands, which is a fanatsy milieu. It indicates that the story is a retelling of an old Norse folk tale. Although, a caveat: many more readers will be familiar with Beauty and the Beast than know of Norse folk tales. And the last phrases tell the reader that the theme treats of inner strengths pitted against fear-inducing malevolence.

The paragraph works, but it could be much stronger.

The rest of the blurb is hopelessly vague. Clearly I was reacting to my known tendency of drowning in plot by flying so far above it that no one can figure out anything at all about my story.

That was certainly the reaction of my writers group when I asked their feedback.

Beyond the fact that Troll-magic featured a cursed prince and a musical country girl, the only certainty was that the story possessed a villain. But most stories have a villain – or at least an antagonist – so what is special about this one?

This was a blurb that failed to deliver the goods.

Elle quote

HELP FROM MY WRITERS GROUP

In the winter of 2013, I helped form a writers group with other indies who were interested in focusing on the publishing side of indie pubbing one’s books. We looked at one another’s book covers and gave feedback. We assessed our story openings for reader appeal and gave feedback. We brainstormed ways to let readers know that our stories existed.

And – writer by writer – we worked on cover copy.

When it was my turn, my fellow writers were incredibly generous. Every single one of them was better at cover copy than I was, and they each not only read Troll-magic (you do remember I said it was l-o-n-g, right?), but they wrote their own version of cover copy for it. Some of them wrote two or three versions! Super wonderful folk!

I studied each version, learned from them all, and then tried to produce my own improved version.

The idea was not to lean on one another permanently, but to learn and get better at the various skills necessary to publish a book well.

...from cool pine forests...

AFTER THE HELP

North-land spellcasters who wield excessive power transform into trolls – potent, twisted, and hungry for dominance.

Prince Kellor, cursed by a troll-witch to live as a north-bear, wrestles with the challenges of a beast’s form. He sees his childhood friend Elle as the key to his escape.

But charming Elle will be no easy task. Traversing that delicate passage between adolescence and adulthood, she struggles to balance family loyalty against her passion for music.

In this epic adventure across a stunning landscape, from cool pine forests to an icy pinnacle of basalt so real it leaves you shivering, Elle and Kellor must summon essential wisdom and grit to prevail against a troll-witch’s malice in a lethal battle of wills.

Fighting against a nightmare pales beside fighting for a dream.

THE GOOD AND THE BAD

If you compare the first two sentences od this version to my latest version, you’ll see that they are the same. They introduce the world, Prince Kellor, and his dire problem well.

But Elle appears as a means to an end, rather than an important POV character in her own right. And we still don’t know – from content of this blurb – what sort of a story this is and what exactly Kellor and Elle are trying to do, other than defeat the villain. Or prevent the villain from winning.

There is no clear statement of the stakes, let alone a raising of them.

I kept that blurb for a long time, however, because it was better than what I’d managed before. My skills at blurb writing were improving, but I still had more to learn.

The illusory loopholes...

DRAFTING SALES COPY

Finally, this August of 2015, Dean Wesley Smith wrote a series of detailed blog posts on the topic of writing sales copy for fiction, and it was as though the proverbial curtain were drawn back before my eyes. I read and re-read those blog posts. I took copious notes. When Dean turned those blog posts into a book, I bought it and reviewed the material.

And when I wrote the copy for my five new books – released November 12 – I followed the guidelines outlined in that book. I could see that they were much, much better than cover copy I’d developed before.

Then and there, I vowed to return to my backlist, once the new books were well launched.

Because the blurb for Troll-magic struck me as the worst of all the blurbs written B.C. (before How to Write Fiction Sales Copy), I tackled it first.

One thing I’ve learned through all my years of struggling with copy is that I have to wrestle a draft into shape first, using all my know-how (such as it is at the time), and then let that draft sit overnight. If I’ve done my work properly, a lot of that draft will be right on target.

And the next day, I’ll be able to see which parts are good, which parts need tweaking, and which parts should be ditched completely.

I cannot see any of this without a night’s sleep between draft and revision.

She once shared...

THE ALMOST-RIGHT VERSION

The following was my first draft for Troll-magic’s updated blurb.

Just to be clear, it’s not what first came from my pen. My working pages include copious “notes to self” about what I was aiming for, numerous sentences that I jot down to capture an idea and then cross out, even more paragraphs with lines drawn through phrases, other phrases inserted, and so on.

My blurb writing process is messy. It almost has to be.

So when I say, “first draft,” I mean what I hammered out over 6 hours of work!

Anyway, here it is!

North-land spellcasters who summon excessive power transform into trolls – potent, grotesque, and hungry for dominance.

Prince Kellor, cursed by the troll-witch Mandine to live as a north-bear, wrestles with the challenges of a beast’s form. Maddened by pain, his thoughts spin out of all sense. Rage shakes him unpredictably. And confusion dogs his search for one of the loopholes that every curse possesses.

His curse turns on the choices of his childhood friend Elle. She once shared Kellor’s wilderland rambles. She now loves all things musical and struggles against the lack of opportunity in her bucolic surroundings.

But no troll-witch permits her prey to escape with ease. The illusory loopholes in Mandine’s curse twist back into its dark heart. Unless Kellor unravels a paradox. Unless Elle performs the impossible.

A lyrically told Beauty and the Beast story in which distorted malice tests inner wisdom and essential grit.

That felt almost right to me. Almost, but not quite.

North-land spellcasters who...

WHAT NEEDED TO CHANGE

After I’d slept, I knew what needed to change.

First issue: “hungry for dominance.” The phrase inched too close to what one might find in steamy romance. It strikes the wrong note for epic fantasy with a thread of sweet romance running through it. I’d wanted to avoid the word “control,” because it seemed too modern for my Steam Age setting, and I still wouldn’t use the term in just this way within the story.

But sales copy can stand to be a little less scrupulous about anachronisms than can the story itself. And the issue with many trolls in my North-lands is one of control, although they would not say it that way.

So “hungry for dominance” became “hungry for control.”

Second issue: the string of sentences starting with “Maddened by pain,” isn’t punchy enough.

I have to strike a careful balance with this. Marketing copy needs to have impact. It is usually punchy and short. I like to follow that recommendation, but I also need to present a hint of the lyricism that surfaces here and there within my stories and is a reason why readers read my books.

But the “Maddened by pain” sequence is not lyrical. It’s merely dragged out and inefficient. I changed it to: “Pain wracks his body. Unpredictable rages blur his mind. And his thoughts spin out of all sense, confusing his search for the loopholes that every curse possesses.”

Third issue: “…and struggles against the lack of opportunity in her bucolic surroundings.”

No. Just, no. We need to focus on what lies between Elle and Kellor, rather than haring off on Elle’s issues. Yes, she has them. But the blurb is not the place to explore them. Blurbs need to stay tightly focused.

Fourth issue: “Unless Kellor unravels a paradox. Unless Elle performs the impossible.”

I strayed into plot with those remarks. Or else I was gilding the lily in my raising of the stakes. Cut!

Fifth issue: “A lyrically told Beauty and the Beast story in which distorted malice tests inner wisdom and essential grit.”

The first phrase is right on target, but everything after “in which” is vague and doesn’t tell the prospective reader why he or she will enjoy the book. It needs to go further than it does.

Rife with moments...

THE UPDATED BLURB

We saw the fully updated blurb at the beginning of this post, with my commentary between each paragraph.

Let’s look at it without those interruptions.

North-land spellcasters who summon excessive power transform into trolls – potent, grotesque, and hungry for control.

Prince Kellor, cursed by the troll-witch Mandine to live as a north-bear, wrestles with the challenges of his beast form. Pain wracks his body. Unpredictable rages blur his mind. And his thoughts spin out of all sense, confusing his search for the loopholes that every curse possesses.

His curse turns on the choices of his childhood friend Elle. She once shared Kellor’s idyllic rambles through the wilderlands. She now loves all things musical. Might Kellor persuade her to neglect her own life and save his? Should he?

But no troll-witch permits her prey to escape with ease. The illusory loopholes in Mandine’s curse all twist back to its entombing heart.

J.M. Ney Grimm tells a lyrical Beauty and the Beast tale, rife with moments of shining glory and dark magnificence, tumbling toward a lethal battle of wills and the impossible choices forced by clashing loyalties.

Better, don’t you think?

What has your experience with cover copy been like? As a reader, have you ever bought a book because of its sales copy? As a writer, do you struggle with writing it? Or does it come naturally to you? (It does for some, just not me!)

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

For more about cover copy, see:
Cover Copy Primer
Eyes Glaze Over? Never!

Be aware that these earlier posts will carry you back in time with me on my journey through writing sales copy. The principles I put forward are sound, but my ability to execute them grows ever less, the farther back in time you go. 😀

A few places to find How to Write Fiction Sales Copy:
Amazon I B&N I Kobo

And few places to find Troll-magic:
Amazon I B&N I iTunes I Kobo I Smashwords

 

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35 thoughts on “How I Wrote and RE-WROTE Cover Copy for My Novel

  1. Pingback: How I Wrote and RE-WROTE Cover Copy for My Novel | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing

    • Thanks for the kind words, Bridget.

      I learn best through example, and I figured I couldn’t be the only one in that boat. That’s why this post features mostly examples and discussion of the examples. 😀

  2. Thanks, J.M. for such a detailed and helpful post. You laid yourself bare with your attempts and examples. I appreciate the process you revealed and information on Dean Wesley Smith’s book–which I’ll be purchasing.

    • Yes, I’m afraid some of my early blurb attempts are embarrassing, but I find the overall history of Troll-magic’s blurb interesting. My hope was that it could be instructive to others.

      Dean’s book is fantastic. You’ll be glad you have it on hand to refer to, when you are writing your own sales copy. 😀

  3. Pingback: How I Wrote and RE-WROTE Cover Copy for My Novel | YOURS IN STORYTELLING...

  4. The passive is not a tense, it is a voice. And every one of the twelve tenses of English has a passive voice version. ‘Have”, ‘has’ and ‘had’ do not necessarily denote passive voice. They are also part of the the structure for Present Perfect tense, Past Perfect tense, and their Progressive counterparts.

    And what I avoid like the plague are shopworn, outdated cliches , such as ‘like the plague.’

    Otherwise, interesting piece. Lots of good advice.

    • You are quite right, of course, that I should have used the term “voice” or the phrase “grammatical construction,” and that “tense” is technically incorrect. Thanks for the correction and your elaboration on the concept!

      Regarding outworn clichés, I avoid them in my fiction, but not in conversation. I look on my blog as conversation. 😀

  5. J.M., thanks for sharing this! I particularly like that you did not ask an “empty question,” which is what I call the questions such as “will they succeed? Will they fall in love?” The answer is always yes, so why ask? I like that instead you used a moral quandary as a question (should he ask Elle for help?) which promises depth.

    However, that question magnifies a sticking point regarding Elle: WHY does Kellor need to turn to her? Does she have curse breaking skills, is she a Hermione Granger (cleverest witch in her generation)? Would her using X skill cost her something vital in order to help Kellor? How does her music come into play? I could imagine if she’s a bard (or skald?) but has to give it up to spend years helping him on a “labors of Hercules” type of quest. Or if helping him would cost her the use of her talents in some fashion (drink this anti-curse elixir so she’s immune to Mandine turning her into a bear, but she can’t sing again).

    Knowing what Elle is bringing to the quest, and what it would cost her to aid Kellor, would nicely illustrate the conflict. It would also *show* that Elle is going to play a big role. I’m just saying this as someone who is coming to this story completely cold.

    To answer your other questions — I buy books based precisely on their cover copy. I ignore a bad cover if the blurb is promising a good story, but I will always ignore a nice cover if the blurb fails to move me. I have to say, your previous posts on writing cover copy helped me tremendously. Thank you for doing these posts.

    • Jamie, thanks for sharing the questions that arose in your mind about Elle. Perhaps my next version of the blurb will include a bit more about her. (I’m sure there will be a next version, as I continue to learn.) I’ll have to be careful with it, however, or I’ll make the dreaded descent into plot. 😀

      I’m glad you’re found my previous posts about cover copy helpful. I’ve learned so much from writers who have gone before me that I like to “pay it forward.”

    • Agree with Jamie on the need for more specificity on what Elle is risking. It would tell us her obstacle and make her more interesting.

    • Some computers put them in online whenever you type a quotation mark or an apostrophe. I have no idea why. I went ahead and took out the slashes in your comment, since you didn’t want them there, and since they can be distracting. 😀

  6. I have had the excellent experience of coming to the writing of the final, real, publication book description AFTER you did all this work, and after Dean finally put it all into a book (though little changed from his posts, all in one place is very handy).

    I had the same experience: after reading Dean’s descriptions, I wanted to find out what happened in EVERY SINGLE STORY.

    That doesn’t happen much – which made me sit up and pay attention. I don’t normally read his stories – but his sales copy worked for me.

    The part about leaving the plot out – genius.

    The part about using only enough information to get someone to read the beginning – and then letting the story do its work – also genius.

    Works for me – I hope it works for potential readers, too.

    • Dean’s blurb patterns have guided me to the best cover copy I’ve ever written, and I am tremendously grateful to him for sharing his knowledge.

      But there is one other element that can’t be transferred: Dean has been writing for decades longer than I have, and I’m sure he brings all of his storytelling savvy to his blurbs.

      I wish my blurbs could produce the same reaction that his do (want to know what happens now), but I suspect I’ll have to practice writing sales copy for a few more years before that happens. 😀

  7. Thanks for a very intelligent and informative essay. You can bet I’m going to review all my blurbs with these principles in mind.

    A thought about your updated blurb: I think you can drop the first paragraph entirely. It doesn’t seem to add anything.

    Again, thanks!

    • Thanks for your input on my blurb. You may well be right that the first paragraph is unnecessary. When we hear that Kellor suffers from a curse, we know the book is fantasy. And hearing more about the curse makes clear that the trolls of the North-lands are mean customers, not the curmudgeonly, but charming trolls of Frozen.

      Incidentally, I wrote Troll-magic between September 2007 and January 2011, revised it between January and October 2011, and published it December 29, 2011, roughly a month after Frozen released. 😀

      I didn’t see Frozen until it came to Netflix.

    • I just re-read Troll-magic’s current blurb with your comment in mind, and I’ve decided that you are absolutely right. That first paragraph is getting the ax. Thank you!

  8. I totally agree with the previous commentator, the part about leaving the plot out and using enough information to get someone to read the beginning is indeed genius!

    I also think that the closing paragraph giving an idea of both the genre/sub-genre and a taste for the stakes involved/relevance to the reader is equally crucial. I note the interesting outsider point of view adopted in the writing of it, as if written by a literary critic, using the writer’s name in relation to the world/books he has created. That’s absolutely brilliant!

    Now, I feel I must go back and do all my blurbs over again – thanks for sharing your experience, it’s hugely useful…and inspiring!

    • Claude, I had the same reaction of wanting to re-do the blurbs for all of my backlist. I will, too. Troll-magic’s blurb needed the revamp most badly, but I’m sure the rest can be improved. One down and thirteen to go! 😀

  9. Dean’s advice on copy writing is eye opening. 🙂

    I followed Dean’s advice on blurbs on my latest stories and they are selling.

    I do need to update all the older stories to improve sales on them when I get time. 🙂

    Isn’t Indie Publishing fun! 🙂

    • Huge congrats on the uptick in your sales! And, yes, indie publishing is so much fun that it seems like fantasy made real. 😀

  10. Thank you for this terrific and helpful post. Analysis like this takes time and care, and I want you to know that I appreciate that and your willingness to share your journey.

    P.S. Like you, I’ve taken courses with Dean and agree that he’s an excellent teacher. My writing is better because of him.

  11. Pingback: The Blurb | MISSION POINT PRESS

  12. What great advice! A point of clarification: The opposite of an active verb is a static verb. The opposite of active voice is passive voice. The two are unrelated, even though they both generally use “be” verbs, and should both generally be avoided in fiction.

    Static verbs describe a state of being: “her hair was red,” for example. It might be better to write “red hair cascaded down her shoulders,” depending on the situation.

    Passive voice means that the subject of the sentence is being acted on, rather than doing the acting: “the mail was delivered at noon,” for instance. Would it be better to say “the mail carrier delivered the mail at noon”? Probably not.
    Fiction writers conflate these two grammatical constructions all the time. It makes for better prose if the author knows the difference between the two, and understands why they should be avoided (and also, when it’s okay to use them!).

    • Merriam-Webster and the OED both mention passive verb forms. I think the word ‘passive’ works well as an adjective in this context.

      :: J.M. raises an eyebrow ::

      😀

  13. Pingback: Publishing - Writing | Pearltrees

  14. Pingback: How I Wrote and RE-WROTE Cover Copy for My Novel – Michiko Katsu

    • Glad you found it helpful, Cindy. And thanks for the kind words about my art. I had fun looking through my files of photos and choosing images that would suit. (The fawn in the grass and the cloudy skyscape were my back yard. The snowy tree branches were in the front.)

  15. Pingback: On writing: Drafts

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