Marketing copywriting (or, as some people call it, content marketing) is a special skill, with its own tricks of the trade. But the other day, as I was polishing up an online article, I realized that no matter what you’re writing, be it fiction or ads or blog posts or headlines, there is one writing rule that rules us all:
I’ll admit it: I have my pet peeves. Since many of you seemed to enjoy my last rant, let me introduce you to my other pet peeve:
My two-year-old’s current favorite bedtime story is about a sick old man who spends the day lying in bed. There are no kids in this story. None. And yet, this book won the 2011 Caldecott Award, the highest honor a picture book can receive.
Wait—what? No kids? Isn’t it the cardinal rule of children’s books that they’re ABOUT children?
Let’s talk about some little dots. Three (or four) little dots all in a row.
There’s something about writing fantasy fiction that compels writers to season their stories with these salty little buggers. They can bring out the flavor of your fiction, creating suspense when and where you need it, giving your characters distinctive voices in dialogue. (Sometimes it’s what your characters don’t say that matters just as much as what they do!) But just like salt, a little can go a long way—and when used with too much abandon, it can ruin the dish.
The worst offender?
For anyone that loves to read, an editorial career is a dream job. It’s an example of the classic career advice: get paid for doing what you do for fun. But here’s the dirty secret: reading what you love for a living just might make you hate reading what you love for fun.
Taking a break from my maybe-too-pedantic posts, how about a peek into my reading list. I’ve recently rediscovered the library by my office, and have been binging on library books. Here’s some notables from my latest checkout.
Whenever I don’t know what to write, I write TK.
It’s an editor’s habit: TK, editorially, is used as a placeholder for missing information. When I write up cover copy to give to the book’s designer, I often don’t know what the Canadian price is. So I write TK. Sometimes I don’t have the ISBN number handy. I write TK.
If you are a published writer, chances are you’ve stumbled across TK when reviewing your work, pre-publication, and maybe wondered what it was. The weird letter combo means quite literally the information is “to come”. The reason it means that, though, is much more mysterious.
Thanks for sticking with me! You’ve reached the final part of my 3-act walk-through of the plot for Better Nate Than Ever.
Bong, bong—please take your seats. My Act II analysis of Better Nate Than Ever is about to begin! If you missed the first installment, start here, and then the usher will sneak you in as we mosey through Act II.
The best way to understand plot and story structure, is to analyze it in action, so let’s walk through one of my favorite middle-grade reads of Summer 2013, BETTER NATE THAN EVER and uncover the 3-act skeleton that makes this story dance and sing.