Writer · writing, grammar, and punctuation · YA Author

WALK THIS WAY

walking picWalk. A typical word found in every manuscript and story, but one the writer often overlooks as a way to create mood, show body language, and provide a clear picture of the character’s emotional status, without telling the reader how the character feels.

But does this really matter?  It depends on the above mentioned things, context, and what the writer is hoping the sentence portrays.

He walked to the store.

Locating her dog, she walked over.

They walked to the gate.

Without context, we don’t have any idea what the character’s mood is, what they want, and the overall feel of the scene.

With the hundred-dollar-bill burning a hole in his pocket, he walked to the store.

Locating her dog near the edge of a busy street she walked over.

Arriving at the airport ten minutes late, they walked to their gate.

With just a little more information, we can clearly come to the conclusion that each of these sentences carries a sense of urgency, and therefore, since “walked” doesn’t support that urgency, it isn’t the best word choice.

With the hundred-dollar-bill burning a hole in his pocket, he ran to the store.  running pic

Locating her dog near the edge of a busy street, she bolted over.

Arriving at the airport ten minutes late, they raced to their gate.

So before you choose to use the word “walked,” determine what you’re trying to portray to the reader (suspense, fear, urgency, happiness, etc.), and make sure each word choice supports that vision.

Below you will find a handy list of synonyms for walked.

Happy writing.

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Rebecca Carpenter,

Copy editor at Kate Foster Professional Editing Services, Award-winning Ya author, Assistant Editor at Lakewater Press

 

Amble                      Stumble

Bounced                   Stump

Clump                      Swagger

Falter                        Tiptoe

Foot it                       Toddle

Footslog                    Totter

Gimp                         Traipse

Hike                          Tramp

Hobble                      Trample

Hoof it                      Travers

Leg it                        Tread

Limp                         Trip

Lumber                     Tromp

Lurch                        Troop

March                       Trot

Mince                       Trudge

Mosey                      Waddle

Nip                           Wander

Pace

Parade

Perambulate

Peregrinate

Plod

Pound

Power walk

Prance

Promenade

Pussyfoot

Ramble

Sashay

Scuff

Shamble

Shuffle

Stagger

Stalk

Step

Stomp

Stride

Stroll

Strut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer · writing, grammar, and punctuation · YA Author

Tar”get”ing GET

Tar“get”ing GET

target

 

Let’s face it, everyone uses “get” when they speak. The verb is probably one of the most used words in the English dictionary. So what’s the big deal with all the fid“get”ing over the use of “get” in a manuscript?

Simply put, “get” is a weak verb, generic, a quick go-to which has hundreds of different meanings.

Example: He needs to get to the store and get some food before the kids get home from school.

Not only is this repetitive, but each time “get” is used, a better, more vivid verb can replace it, creating a stronger sentence and clearer picture.

Example: He needs to hurry to the store and buy some food before the kids return home from school.

This sentence paints a clear picture of exactly what’s going on, placing an emphasis on the lack of time before the children return and that they will probably be hungry. Or maybe he doesn’t like to shop with the kids. Whatever the reason, this sentence lends a hand into the precise meaning of the words.

But what if I changed the meanings of the word “get” in the sentence?

Example: He needs to sneak into the store and steal some food before the kids arrive from school.

This completely changes the meaning of the sentence, providing the reader a different take on the word “get” and therefore, creating a completely different scene.

So as you see, it really is important to be specific and make sure you’re writing paints a clear picture as to the meaning of the word.

While it’s okay to use “get” on occasion—especially if a more vivid verb doesn’t appear to be available, a strong writer will seek them out and change as many as possible. On a positive note, use of “get” is always fine in dialogue, but I still look for places that I can switch them out as well.

Whatever you do, don’t allow this pesky word to halt your creativity. Write as many “gets” in your first draft as necessary, just to “get” the story on paper. When you begin to revise, perform a search and carefully study each one for meaning, and determine if the word should be left or changed out.

Your prose will be stronger, and you will be one step closer to an unfor“get”table manuscript.

 

043017_0006_1.jpgRebecca Carpenter is a copyeditor at Kate Foster Professional Editing. She also provides copyediting for Lakewater Press, and her YA novel, Butterfly Bones, is an Official Selection in the New Apple Awards for excellence in indie publishing.

birthday memories · Life experiences · Writer · YA Author

Pierced Ears, Blue Shoes, and a Punch to the Gut

It’s Lakewater Press’s 2nd birthday, so to help celebrate my awesome publisher’s big day, we have been asked to share our favorite birthday memories.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m naked without my earrings.  And I’m not a studs girl. What’s the point of wearing something you can barely see? I’m a “the bigger the better” hoops girl.

hoop earrings

So my most memorable birthday is my 14th, the day I anticipated from the time I was little—the day I could join the throng of girls with pierced ears.  In my eyes, earrings were a symbol of maturity, beauty, and a little defiance too. Putting holes in one’s body was still considered taboo to many people, a downright sin to others. But I didn’t care what other people thought, this was my right-of-passage to endless ear fashion, and I couldn’t wait.

Lucky for me, my 14th birthday fell on a weekday, so Mom took me to the mall the weekend before to indulge in some early birthday shopping and to receive the present I had waited for my whole life. Not only was I getting my ears pierced, the coveted act was happening four days early. The anticipation I felt while I sat in the chair, waiting for “the gun”  piercing gunto shoot a piercing stud through my lobes, rivaled any Christmas morning. I was gonna rock those earrings, right along with my 80s hair and Levi’s 501, buttonfly jeans. Life was good.

Waltzing in the door to my home, I never felt prettier. I had on new blue flats, just like my older sister’s, a new outfit in a bag, and bling in my earlobes. I tucked my hair behind my ears, strode up the stairs to the upper level, and was met by a glaring sister. She took one look at my shoes and punched me in the gut.

punched in the gut

“Get those off,” she cried. “I never gave you permission to wear my shoes.”

With tears streaming down my cheeks, I clutched my stomach and yelled that these were my shoes, just bought for my birthday.

She took one look at my ears and glared. “Well that’s what you get for getting your ears pierced early.”

I don’t remember if she got into trouble, but she definitely felt justice was served. The pain was worth it. I had joined the ranks of women all over the world who donned glorious earrings. My life would forever be changed, my lobes forever decorated in metallic glory.birthday cake

 

 

Happy birthday to me! And a very special happy birthday to Lakewater Press!

 

 

Rebecca Carpenter

Author of the award winning YA, Butterfly Bones

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Writer · writing, grammar, and punctuation · YA Author

Utilizing Stronger Verbs (aka: Show Don’t Tell)

Stronger verbs. Do they really matter? I’ll take a commonly used one, LOOK, and provide some examples of how a strong verb lifts up the story, while weak verbs add nothing—holding down a potentially great scene.

So, what’s the big deal with look? I mean, we all look at stuff. We look down. We look up. We look over our shoulder. We look at people. We look at everything. That’s how we take in a good portion of information to our brain—through looking. So why should we use other words to fluff up something that’s so common? Because how we look at something and why we look at something helps paint a picture, therefore creating conflict and mood for an unforgettable scene. But this can’t be accomplished with the word “looked.”

Let’s start with how we look at something. mirror

“She looked through the crack in the door” provides nothing to the scene and doesn’t create a clear picture. But replace “looked” with a stronger verb, and the sentence comes alive. “She peered through the crack in the door.” The latter gives a clearer picture of the character leaning in, her eye close to the crack, and creates tension. What’s outside the door? What’s going on that has her too scared to just poke out her head? Peered is much stronger, and shows how she looked through the crack in the door instead of just telling the reader she looked through the crack in the door.

“June looked at her mother.” This sentence tells us nothing about the scene, nothing about June’s mood or the relationship between June and her mom. But if I replace “looked” with a stronger verb, the scene comes alive. “June glared at her mother.” The reader can automatically assume June is upset with her mom, something we couldn’t have determined from the weaker verb of “looked.”

“Nicky looked through the curtains.” Again, a plain scene with nothing to hint at what’s going on. “Nicky peeked through the curtains.” This gives a clear picture of the character standing close to the curtains, but not wanting to be seen, she remains hidden behind the curtains.

The next step is to determine why we look at something. This one provides a reason to “look.”  monster

“Footfalls pounded from behind. Mike looked over his shoulder and ran.” While the footsteps set up the scene for something sinister, the word “looked” adds nothing to the tension. “Footfalls pounded from behind. Mike glanced over his shoulder and ran.” To glance at something means to make sudden, quick movements. From the definition we can conclude that whatever is behind Mike is horrible enough to make him run with only a quick sighting.

“Blood gushed from Coltin’s hand. The doctor looked at the wound and determined he needed surgery.” Again, we have a nice setup, but fall short of a vivid scene. “Blood gushed from Coltin’s hand. The doctor examined the wound and determined he needed surgery.” “Examined” offers a clearer picture of how in depth the doctor went to make the determination.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly fine to use “looked” on occasion, but when a stronger verb can show instead of tell, that’s when I recommend changing it out.

But how do we know which words to use? To help you with this, I compiled a list of synonyms to use instead of “looked.” I also included synonyms for “looks like” and “walked” which are also commonly overused in manuscripts.

So search through those manuscripts and switch out those generic verbs that don’t add to the story. Words matter. Make each one count.

Rebecca Carpenter is a copy editor for Kate Foster Professional Editing and for Lakewater Press. Her first novel, Butterfly Bones, a young adult contemporary science fiction, came out in Nov. of 2016. The sequel, Butterfly Blood, is scheduled to be released in 2018.     043017_0006_1.jpg

 

Synonyms for Looked                                          

Observed

Watched

Saw

Seen

Beheld

Viewed

Considered

Regarded

Eyed

Gazed

Contemplated

Examined

Inspected

Scrutinized

Eyeballed

Studied

Scanned

Surveyed

Pore over

Stared

Glared

Glanced

Gawked

Peeped

Peeked

Peered

Gawped

Focus

Leered

 

 

Synonyms for Looked Like

Resembles         Mocks

Mirrors              Betrays

Reflects             Parallels

Implies              Reverberates

Reveals             Notifies

Echoes              Proclaims

Parodies            Exposes

Pretends            Reiterates

Refers               Proposes

Feigns               Emulates

Suggests           Offers

Assumes           Commends

Poses                Signifies

Hints                 Represents

Simulates          Tells

Mentions           Broadcasts

Mimics              Communicates

Mimes

Mocks

Declares

Announces

Notifies

Tells

Divulges

Resonates

Steers

Touts

Affects

Imitates

 

Synonyms for Walked  

Strode

Ambled                                                          Parades

Foot it                                                            Scurries

Darts                                                              Loiters

Hoofs it                                                          Lumbers

Bounced                                                         Lurches

Clumps                                                          Sashays

Mince                                                            Plods

Leg it                                                            Parade

Roam                                                            Pads

Peregrinate                                                     Limps

Power Walk                                                   Gimps

Pussyfoot                                                       Flounces

Shamble                                                         Dances

Stalked                                                           Boots

Step                                                               Barges

Tiptoes                                                          Strutted

Sneaks                                                           Skipped

Marched                                                        Wandered

Strolled                                                          Rambled

Stride

Paced

Pound

Hiked

Trudged

Toddled

Tottered

Staggered

Promenaded

Perambulated

Ambulated

Sauntered

Moseyed

Meandered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

new release · science fiction · YA Book · YA contemporary science fiction · young adult · young adult novel

Superhero Dream Cast for Butterfly Bones

Butterfly Bones Dream Cast #2

Marvel Comic Characters

The role of Bethany Keatley will be played by Wasp. “Playing Bethany will be a cinch. I can shrink to make myself small and helpless, but still carry a kick with my sassy words. But I’ll definitely have to teach this girl a thing or two about fashion.”

The role of Jeremiah Wright will be played by Thor. “I’m not comfortable trading my hammer for a football, or going to high school with a bunch of snotty kids, but I’ll do anything to right wrong. I will defend Bethany until the end.”

The role of Zoey Margold will be played by Satana. “Zoey’s been compared to Satan’s spawn. But I am a devil’s daughter. And even though Zoey’s known for her promiscuity, she’s a pussy cat compared to me.”

The role of Dr. Keatley will be played by Black Panther. “I might be a scientist, but I’m no nerd. And I don’t need a hormone to send you into metamorphosis.”

Life experiences · Writer · YA Author · YA Book · YA contemporary science fiction · young adult · young adult novel

New Year’s Resolutions and Other Stupid Ideas

Everywhere I look, people are blogging and posting about their New Year’s resolutions and goals. Through some unforeseen alien force, even I was sucked into the Twitterverse and brainwashed into tweeting my 2017 writing goals. And I must admit—it looks super sparkly all typed out and pretty like that. But overall, my general feelers about making New Year’s resos are… blah, blah, blah.  Not because I think it’s stupid, but because I know me.

I make ‘em.img_4478

I break ‘em.

Every. Dang. Time.

I  have good intentions—I want to accomplish my goals—but life always gets in the way. And life can be stupid.

Whoever said being an adult is awesome should be shot.

No matter how much I juggle or rearrange responsibilities, or cut out sleep, there just isn’t enough time in the day. And in the next few weeks I’ll be adding more to my overflowing plate of responsibilities–a  college class (maybe I’m the stupid one).

So why make New Year’s resos?

Why set myself up to fail?

Because setting goals isn’t stupid, it’s a worthy investment in myself and helps me to focus on priorities. Regardless of whether or not I meet the goals—at least I’m trying. And honestly, sometimes the process is more important than the product—the journey than the destination. Because whether or not I reach that “big pot of goal” at the end of the rainbow, I’m developing habits along the way which will last a lifetime.

Maybe I won’t finish a book this year (don’t worry Butterfly Bones readers, it’s just an analogy). But If I’m writing daily, whether ten words or ten thousand,  I’m honing my skills, practicing craft, becoming a stronger writer, and I will eventually complete the story.

So will I meet all my goals for 2017?

Probably not. But I sure the heck am going to enjoy the journey.

So buckle up, 2017. Let’s go for a ride!

Butterfly Bones, available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Author Page for Rebecca Carpenter

 

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Life experiences · Writer

The First Time I Saw My Dad Cry

Since Father’s Day is celebrated in June, I thought this would be a great time to re-post this blog. My father is my hero. A man of integrity and honesty. He is a man who believes in the value of work and responsibility. He is funny and fun. And I love him and respect him more than he could ever know. IMG_1753

There have been only two times that I witnessed my father break down and cry. The latter transpired as he spoke at his father’s funeral service. The first time happened while he read a book to my siblings and I. The book was Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner.
I still remember my dad’s quavering tone as the protagonist, Little Willy, picked up his dead dog, Searchlight, and carried her across the finish line. Consumed in emotion, Dad became too choked up to continue. The powerful ending swallowed my entire family in loud sobs. It was at that moment that I realized books were magical. If a story could make the strongest man I knew cry, there was no limit to what a good book could do. Reading has been an integral part of my life ever since that defining moment.

Thanks, Dad, for being man enough to cry and for introducing me to the wonderful world of books.
If you have a child, I would highly recommend Stone Fox.

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http://www.amazon.com/Stone-Fox-Harper-Trophy-Book-ebook/dp/B003GYEGZW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394394513&sr=1-1&keywords=stone+fox