Avoiding Repetition of Proper Nouns

This happens to all of us: nouns, especially proper ones, can get repeated multiple times per page, paragraph, and even per sentence. Of course, I will make up an example:

Steven walked over to me and glared into my eyes. Steven looked amazing. I went over and kissed his soft lips, and as I did so, Steven wrapped his arms around my back. The world faded into the background. It was nothing but the trees, me, and Steven.

Obviously, in this fake passage, I was “Steven happy.” But sometimes things like this will still happen to me. So, how can we avoid the use of repetitive proper nouns?

1. Use a Proundoun!

This one is super easy. Never be afraid to throw in a him/her, he/she, or they/them for multiple characters.

2. The Three Sentence Rule

I thought of this recently and coined it myself. Try using a proper noun only once every three sentences, substituting with a pronoun or different phrase instead.

Your Gender-Neutral Story

Yesterday I found yet another story on Wattpad where a strait girl and strait guy were living in the same dorm room, sleeping a few feet away from each other. Of course, they didn’t know each other and hated each other. 

I’m just going to go right into a numbered list about gender neutral housing. Here are some facts and debunking methods to ensure that your story is accurate and relatable:

1. Yes, two strait students can live in the same room or suite…

This one surprised me after doing some research yesterday. According to Cornell, two students of different genders can share a bedroom. BUT

2. They HAVE to fill out a special aplication 

Not only can students live with a person of the opposite sex, they MUST agree to it by filling out a special application. Only then will they be in gender-neutral housing. 

3. AND they have to know each other! 

The colleges I researched had special selection processes where after student fill out their special aplication, they have to select their roommates BEFORE they select their room. 

4. Open room change does exist, too

One issue I’ve noticed a lot is the line, “How will they survive living together for an entire year?” Well, they won’t, because open room change happens 3 times a year and they could switch out if it was that bad. 

5. And so do waitlists 

If open room change doesn’t work out, many colleges offer waitlists into other dorms. With people dropping/moving off campus/getting kicked out, there will always be SOMEWHERE else to go at some point. My suitemate was on a wait list and moved into my room at the end of November. 

My First Solution: The Off Campus, 2 Bedroom Apartment

This solution is not only more realistic, but can keep the two in one place where they literally can’t move out, mainly if they’re stuck in a year lease. In fact, they’ll spend even MORE time together, since they’ll be doing all of their cooking and studying there, instead of leaving said dorm room to go to the cafeteria or library. 

Create this situation by having one person already in the apartment, their roommate bailing, leaving them desperate for a roommate in order to pay rent; having the other move in since they applied late and don’t have a room on campus. 

Second Solution: the Live-in Boyfriend/Girlfriend

College students do this ALL the time. Two of my friends have a roommate and suitemate with a boyfriend who never leaves, and I lived next door to someone in the same situation last year. 

PLENTY of drama can happen between a roommate and a significant other that is always there. And wait–plot twist! She’s falling for her roommate’s boyfriend, but can’t date him because it’ll ruin their friendship! *gasp* 

Heck, I might even use one of these ideas myself. 

No, Editors Don’t Work for Free

Time and time again, I’ve gotten asked to edit stories for others on Wattpad. People always need help. Now, this is something I love doing–so much that I want to go into copyediting as a career. I’ve been editing on Wattpad for about two years now, and lately I’ve noticed a trend. 

People don’t want to complete the payments for their stories to get edited by me. This never happened at first. People always left the desired amount of comments on my stories, etc. (I don’t charge real money since all of my clients are teens). 

Many of them have started leaving comments that are only a few words, and most of them, when I ask for two comments because their story needs an extensive amount of work, will leave them on the same chapter. 

This is just upsetting. Even clients I’ve worked with for years have started pulling this on me. 

I just don’t understand. I work for over an hour on each chapter, and yet they won’t take another ten minutes to read a second chapter of my book. Am I being too soft? Am I working too hard? 

I want to put in the same amount of time that they give me–but if I only did ten minutes of work, I’d only have half of their first page done! 

Anyway, word of advice: if your editor has been working hard and giving you great reaults, don’t get stingy, especially when I should be charging actual money for the amount of work I do. 

Querying: A Dieing Practice?

This semester I’ve had the agony of taking my required writing 381 course, also known as technical and professional editing. As an editor on Wattpad for over 2 years, I figured I’d not only love, but ace this class with no problem. Currently I’m riding on a low B average–one of the highest grades in the class.

Long story short, I believe that my average is so low because we’re using outdated methods, such as editing in print instead of online, etc. One of these other issues is querying.

In my own words, I’d define querying as adding comments or “queries” to ask the author questions and offer them suggestions. Mainly, you must use an extremely nice tone. “Please consider switching these two sentences.” And so on.

Now, while I believe it is crucial to ask the author about fact checks and so on, but if you’re going to rewrite a sentence or do something else small? I don’t think they’re needed. Here is why.

One of the number one rules in editing is “do no harm” to the manuscript. This was a good rule to live by, but not for today’s generation of new writers. I’ve edited for probably 100+ people in 2 years. Trust me, they do not care about harm. These authors want me to murder their stories, no questions asked. I even had a user last month ask me why I left certain sentences of her story the way they were!

The only time I had anyone question my edits was 2 years ago. Just one, single user. That’s it.

I think this change has occurred because we live in such a convienient world. Teens today don’t even need to leave the couch to order a pizza, or even wait for dial up Internet to check their email. They don’t want to do more work.

I was even frustrated a few years ago as a freshman. I was an opinion writer for my college newspaper. My editors would leave a bunch of comments on my articles, many telling me to “add a comma” or something else menial. Of course this would seem annoying to someone. They were editors in paid positions, and I felt like it was their job to fix my work. All they did was tweak a few words and fill my page with comments.

If we do this today, with these new generations, expect a lot of frustration. Editors should just be allowed to fix the content without filling up a page of suggestions. The writers don’t want to go back and fix it. They want it done one time, because they’re paying you as the editor to do so.

Bottom line: less queries. More editors doing what we love to do: fix things.

:) Using Emojis :P in Writing D:

I’m sure you must be surprised with that title. I was surprised too, when I started seeing emojis in the text of a story. Yes, this is really happening people. New writers have started putting emojis in their stories. 

The first time I saw this was last year. It looked something like this in the text:

I may be different, but that’s just who I am. 🙂 

Are you scared yet? Because it only gets worse. Lately I’ve been seeing winky faces in stories as well. 

Now of course, who could forget the beloved TTYL series, which involved similar things? Of course, there are exceptions. 

If characters are texting, IMing, emailing, or posting a status, then of course, pile on the emojis if you want. 

But in the actual text of the story? Just no. I’m really hoping that this doesn’t become an “ok” or norm in the writing word. I don’t think I could ever take a story seriously with smiles and winky faces in the middle of a paragraph. 

Realistic Character Introductions

While editing in the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that there has been a lot of strained, forced character introductions.  You know, when a character meets another character?  This is something that I figured would be very simple, but a lot of today’s young writers are making much more complicated than it needs to be.

Mainly I’ve noticed characters, who later turn out to be friends, introducing themselves in the school hallway with their first and last name.  I’ll use an example with two characters (Bay and Adriana) from “Crash” my second novel.  Imagine this in a school hallway.

“Hello, my name is Bayleigh Garashian.” I extended my hand.

She shook my hand.  “My name is Adriana Cruz.”

Now, it’s okay to be formal sometimes.  But I can think of only a handful of time’s when I’ve introduced myself by my full first name and last name.  Acceptable situations for characters giving an introduction of their full first and last name are just like in real life: when they’re in a formal situation. (Meeting the Queen, going in for a job interview, etc).

But meeting someone in a school hallway?  I don’t know about you all, but I’ve never formally introduced myself to someone in a school hallway.  Here is how a conversation would probably go down in a school hallway in one of my books:

“Hi, I’m Bay.”  I extended my hand.

She shook it.  “I’m Adriana.”

The point about character dialogue is that is actually a lot like real life.  So go ahead and have your characters meet and greet, but keep it casual!

Writing Rape/Sexual Assault Part 2: Is it Necessary?

Considering I didn’t receive a lot of feedback on my last post, I’m guessing you all don’t like hearing about rape/sexual assault. Me either. But since there was a part 1, I feel obligated to write a part 2. Today we’ll focus on how important rape scenes REALLY are in a story. If you want my opinion, they’re not. But that’s just how I feel about it.

For me, it just feels like a rape scene would be impossible to move the plot of a story along, unless that was actually the plot of the story. For example, if a Kelly is camping in the woods, would it really move the plot along if a stranger came out from the bushes and raped her?

Before I go on, I just want to quickly touch upon the description of rape scenes. They shouldn’t be bland, but they should be quick. They don’t have to include vulgar descriptions of clothes coming off and what the guy’s you-know-what looks like. Writing a scene like this could be a trigger for many of the 1 in 5 women who are raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Let’s go back to the camping story. What if Kelly is camping with her boyfriend David and his friends, and suddenly one of his friends takes advantage of her after a few too many beers. David is now caught choosing between his girlfriend and best friend on who is telling the truth. If this is what the entire story is going to be about, then yes, a rape scene could be included.

Main point of this post: try to steer clear from rape/sexual assult scenes unless it is 100% necessary. The general conflict of the book, the climax of the book, etc.