Nov. 7, 2017

Bad, Bad Preposition Over Kill!

Be Careful With Prepositions!

 I have been in the industry a long while and my sporadic relationship with one of the best literary agents couldn’t have helped my writing more than anything else has. Sometimes you don’t learn lessons until after you’ve made many mistakes. This proved true after I discovered I was killing the hell out of overusing prepositions.

We as indie authors want to believe our writing is just as good as authors published through the big five publishing companies. Most of you know I’m very blunt when speaking, so here it goes. We aren’t. What makes indie authors the same as traditionally published authors is our ability to write unique stories with believable characters, and the ability to make readers continue turning the page. We have it all! We have a good and tightly written plot. We have created characters the reading population will love. So what makes us different? Why is our work rejected by literary agents and reputable publishing companies?

The answer is our writing skills.

Do allow me to explain.

Our writing skills are very good. So what exactly is it?

Well, for one, TP authors have fantastic editors to catch things, make revisions and strip away unnecessary sentences. But let’s now look at this from a different perspective, because most of us aren’t TP authors, so there’s really no need to discuss any of their benefits in details. The truth is those who have been involved in the distribution of literature have an eye to see tiny, little, bitty things that most others don’t, including readers. And that is sentence structure and flow. If you've noticed, other TP authors similar to our own writing style and genres use as less words as possible while still conveying a clear picture of what they’re writing about. In the past, word count determined printing costs for new releases. Less does mean more, and in this regard, it means more profit.

What exactly are you saying, Shelley?

I’m saying that although books by these authors still consist of three-hundred to five-hundred pages, if an indie author had written it, the page count will increase by a third.

This is the reason many queries are rejected.

One of the things new authors or authors who want to improve their writing skills are to watch for are those dreaded prepositions: the, of, and, to, a, in, that, it, is, was, I, for, on, with

These words are commonly used every day in the English language and rank higher than any other during regular conversations and even corporate level communication. In literature these words become a crutch. I’m a firm believer that anyone can write a novel and sell it. I am not contradicting myself by saying overusing prepositions isn’t found in traditionally published work or the work of those who have better creative writing skills. It is up to each author how they wish to improve their writing skills. I, for one, am always up for the challenge of improvement. So let’s look at some examples.

 …each of them spurred into action.

…each spurred into action.

 She touched his hand with her own.

She touched his hand.


If you look at the first example, we can remove ‘of them’ without the sentence losing value or understanding. In the second example – I mean really look at this sentence then ask yourself who else’s hand is she going to touch his with? Has someone lost a hand and it's lying around for her to pick up and use? When I find myself doing this I make the face Amy is making in the pic, and then I tell myself, 'Really, Shelley? With her own hand? Geesh!'

 Many indie authors over explain, mostly because we want the reader to get it. Trust me. I get it! I’ve made the same mistakes in the past. For those of us who want to improve, while writing we should often ask ourselves this question. Are those few words that include a preposition and pronoun necessary? If they aren’t and the sentence can stand without them, let’s ‘kill those darlings’ and get back to writing out our fantastic plots.

I hope today’s blog helps you as much as it has helped me!

Te dua,