Cocktale of the Week: Slow Your Prose!


Oftentimes, new writers worry more about how to sell their book vice writing a polished story in the first place. They have the pedal pressed to the floor when they shouldn’t have gotten in the ride at all, sorta speak. In “Slow Your Prose: 25 Tips On How New Authors Can Improve Their Writing,” we go back to the basics.

Showing vs. telling, passive/active voice, point-of-views … many writers confuse these key elements for writing a good story. Before rushing a book to market, it’s more important to write the best book possible first. But why do so many authors skip this step?

As a bonus, you’ll find three proven query letters that have led to deals with a literary agent, a magazine and a popular anthology by a New York Times best-selling author.


Tip 1. Show don’t tell – To truly “show” vice “tell,” incorporate the five senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight). For example:

The boy saw the beautiful girl he wanted to ask to the prom. He was very nervous.


Karen stood in the doorway while laughing with her friend Sheryl. Sam stared, his heart pounding at the sight of her. Everything around Sam faded except for the sound of that angelic voice. Her long dark hair caressed soft cinnamon skin. Green eyes sparkled like rubies.

She could win a Maxim magazine girl-next-door contest. A young woman like her needed real-man quality, though. Sam didn’t qualify.

But today, Sam ate his spinach. He wouldn’t miss his chance.

Here goes. Sam stood from his seat, hauled in a breath, then walked toward Karen. Karen turned to him and smiled. Roses scented the air. Karen’s favorite perfume. Now Sam’s.

Sam inhaled that familiar scent, then said, “K-K-Karen?”

Okay, this example didn’t include all the senses, but it doesn’t take a high IQ to know Sam is nervous and Karen is a nice-looking girl. No need to “tell” the reader.

Tip 2. Use more active voice than passive voice – With active voice, the subject performs the action. In passive voice, the subject receives the action (in other words, acted upon). Active voice is more crisp and “to the point.” It’s also less confusing. Use little to no passive voice (non-fiction writers can get away with more passive voice than fiction writers). In most cases, do a little switcheroo to achieve active voice success. For example:

The body was carried by the hitman. (Passive)


The hitman carried the body. (Active)

Active voice hits home quicker and sounds better. In some cases, active voice uses fewer words than passive voice, and still achieves the same goal (as in the above example).


If you’d like to read the ebook, you can find it on Amazon and other major online book retailers!

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