A Fond Farewell from Jodie Renner – and links to Jodie’s Top TKZ Posts

Jodie Renner, editor & authorJodie_June 26, '14_7371_low res_centred

It’s with mixed feelings that I bid a fond farewell to The Kill Zone. I started guest blogging here in November 2012, then officially joined the team in early October 2013. It’s been a lot of fun and a real honor to be part of this talented team for the past few years, and I hope I’ve made some meaningful contributions, including setting up the TKZ library. (Click on the TKZ Library link above to check out many TKZ posts, categorized by topic.)

I’m also pleased to have brought in as guest bloggers several friends who are also bestselling authors, including Robert Dugoni, Steven James, Allison Brennan, LJ Sellers, and Allan Leverone, as well as award-winning blogger and humorous fiction writer, Anne R. Allen.

Scroll down to see links to my most popular TKZ posts.

I’ll continue to follow this excellent, award-winning blog, and have been told I’m welcome as a guest blogger any time, so you may see future posts by me here occasionally.

Below you’ll find links to many of my posts from this blog, listed from oldest to most recent. And at the bottom you’ll find links to my books, my websites, and my own little blog, where I will continue to post occasionally.


~ Writing Tense Action Scenes

When your characters are running for their lives, it’s time to write tight and leave out a lot of description, especially little insignificant details about their surroundings. Characters on the run don’t have time to admire the scenery or décor, start musing about a moment in the past, or have great long thoughts or discussions. Their adrenaline is pumping and all they’re thinking of is survival – theirs and/or someone else’s. …

~ Impart Info with Attitude – Strategies for Turning Impersonal Info Dumps into Compelling Copy

As a freelance fiction editor, I find that military personnel, professionals, academics, police officers, and others who are used to imparting factual information in objective, detached, bias-free ways often need a lot of coaching in loosening up their language and adding attitude and emotions to create a captivating story world. Really need those facts in there? Rewrite with attitude! …

~ Checklist for Adding Suspense & Intrigue to Your Story

Writing a Killer Thriller_May '13Here’s a handy checklist for ratcheting up the tension and suspense of your novel or short story. Use as many of these elements and devices as possible to increase the “wow” factor of your fiction. …

~ Phrasing for Immediacy and Power

Have you ever been engrossed in a novel, reading along, when you hit a blip that made you go “huh?” or “why?” for a nanosecond? Then you had to reread the sentence to figure out what’s going on? Often, it’s because actions are written in a jumbled-up or reversed order, rather than the order they occurred. Do this too often, and your readers will start getting annoyed. …

~ Immerse Your Readers with Sensory Details

… In order for your story and characters to come to life on the page, your readers need to be able see what the main character is seeing, hear what he’s hearing, and smell, taste and feel along with him. …

~ Don’t Stop the Story to Introduce Each Character

Imagine you’ve just met someone for the first time, and after saying hello, they corral you and go into a long monologue about their childhood, upbringing, education, careers, relationships, plans, etc. You keep nodding as you glance around furtively, trying to figure out how to extricate yourself from this self-centered boor. You don’t even know this person, so why would you care about all these details at this point? …

~ 10 Ways to Add Depth to Your Scenes

… Besides advancing the storyline, scenes should: reveal and deepen characters and their relationships; show setting details; provide any necessary background info (in a natural way, organic to the story); add tension and conflict; hint at dangers and intrigue to come; and generally enhance the overall tone and mood of your story. …

Fire up Your Fiction_ebook_2 silvers~ Using Thought-Reactions to Add Attitude & Immediacy

… Showing your character’s immediate thought-reactions is a great way to let the readers in on what your character is really thinking about what’s going on, how they’re reacting inside, often in contrast to how they’re acting outwardly. …

~ Fire up Your Fiction with Foreshadowing

… Foreshadowing is about sprinkling in subtle little hints and clues as you go along about possible revelations, complications, and trouble to come. It incites curiosity, anticipation, and worry in the readers, which is exactly what you want. …

~ Nail it with Just the Right Word

To set the mood of a scene in your story, bring the characters to life, and engage readers in their world and their plight, it’s critical to choose just the right nuance of meaning to fit the character, action, and situation. …

~ Looking for an editor? Check them out very carefully!

An incident happened to me recently that got me thinking about all the pitfalls that aspiring authors face today when seeking professional assistance to get their books polished and ready to self-publish or send to agents. …

~ Tips for Loosening up Your Writing

As a freelance editor, I’ve received fiction manuscripts from lots of professionals, and for many of these clients, whose report-writing skills are well-researched, accurate and precise, my editing often focuses on helping them relax their overly correct writing style.

Captivate Your Readers_med~ How to save a bundle on editing costs – without sacrificing quality

below you’ll find lots of advice for significantly reducing your editing costs, with additional links at the end to concrete tips for approaching the revision process and for reducing your word count without losing any of the good stuff.  …

~ Pick up the Pace for a Real Page-Turner

… Today’s readers have shorter attention spans and so many more books to choose from. Most of them/us don’t have the time or patience for the lengthy descriptive passages, long, convoluted “literary” sentences, detailed technical explanations, author asides, soap-boxing, or the leisurely pacing of fiction of 100 years ago. …

~ 15 Questions for Your Beta Readers – And to Focus Your Own Revisions

…To avoid generic (and generally useless) responses like “I liked it,” “It was good,” or “It was okay,” it’s best to guide your volunteer readers with specific questions. …

~ Dialogue Nuts & Bolts

The basics of writing dialogue in fiction: paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization, etc.

~ 12 Essential Steps from Story Idea to Publish-Ready Novel

… If you want your novel, novella, or short story to intrigue readers and garner great reviews, use these 12 steps to guide you along at each phase of the process: …

~ 12 Tips for Writing Blog Posts That Get Noticed

Blogging is a great way to build a community feeling, connect with readers and writers, and get your books noticed. …But if you’re just getting started in the world of blogging and want to build a following, it’s all about offering the readers value in an open, accessible style and format.

~ Creating a Scene Outline for Your Novel

… The outline below will help you organize your scenes and decide if any of them need to be moved, revised, amped up, or cut. …

~ 25 Tips for Writing a Winning Short Story

Writing short stories is a great way to test the waters of fiction without making a huge commitment, or to experiment with different genres, characters, settings, and voices. And due to the rise in e-books and e-magazines, length is no longer an issue for publication, so there’s a growing market for short fiction. …

Three articles on point of view in fiction, with an emphasis on close third-person viewpoint (deep POV). Includes examples.

~ POV 101: Get into Your Protagonist’s Head and Stay There (for most of the novel)

~ POV 102 – How to Avoid Head-Hopping

~ POV 103 – Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View

 ~ Basic Formatting of Your Manuscript (Formatting 101)

How to format your manuscript before sending it to an editor or publishing.

Quick Clicks_Word Usage_Precise Choices~ Just the Right Word is Only a Click Away

How are your word usage and spelling skills? Try this quiz to find out.  …

~ Tricks and Tips for Catching All Those Little Typos in Your Own Work

Tips for fooling your brain into thinking your story is something new, something you need to read critically and revise ruthlessly before it reaches the demanding eyes of a literary agent, acquiring editor, contest judge, or picky reviewer.

~ Don’t Muddle Your Message

… Wordiness muddles your message, slows down the momentum, and drags an anchor through the forward movement of your story. It also reduces tension, anticipation, and intrigue, all essential for keeping readers glued to your book. …

~ How to Reach More Readers with Your Writing

15 tips for clear, concise, powerful writing.

~ Make Sure Your Characters Act in Character

Do your characters’ decisions and actions seem realistic and authentic? …

~ Create a Fascinating, Believable Antagonist

For a riveting story, be sure to challenge your hero – or heroine – to the max. …

~ How are short stories evaluated for publication or awards?

What are some of the common criteria used by publications and contests when evaluating short story submissions?

~ Critical Scenes Need Nail-Biting Details

… for significant scenes where your character is trying to escape confinement or otherwise fight for his life, be sure you don’t skip over the details. If it’s a life-or-death moment, show every tiny movement, thought, and action. …

I look forward to connecting with you all again here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter — and maybe at some writers’ conferences! Keep on writing!

Jodie Renner, a former English teacher and school librarian with a master’s degree, is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage. You can find Jodie at www.JodieRenner.com, her blog, http://jodierennerediting.blogspot.com/, and on Facebook.

59 thoughts on “A Fond Farewell from Jodie Renner – and links to Jodie’s Top TKZ Posts

  1. Thanks Jodie for so many valuable posts and for this link to them. May your return to the Okanagan Valley be invigorating and fruitful. (Visited the area many decades ago and remember it was gorgeous as you say.)

    • Thanks, Roland. Yes, I’m loving the Okanagan already, and saw more of it as I was driving my son around recently! So many photo ops, that I scared him when I darted the car to the edge of the road, to a narrow patch of ground, to take a stunning photo!

  2. Thank you for your dedication to writers. Your posts have been some of my favorite. I hate to see you leave TKZ but I wish you well. I hope to see your work again. Until then I have your books. Enjoy this new adventure.

    • Thanks, Nancy. It’s been great working with you, and I’ll continue to read your excellent posts! Yes, I’ve decided it’s time to prioritize my activities and look after ME, too! 🙂

    • Thanks for having faith in me and bringing me on board here, Joe! I really appreciate it. I’ll miss you and the whole team here on TKZ, too!

      I also really enjoyed editing two of your thrillers. Good luck with all future writing projects! And enjoy your little slice of heaven there in Florida! Living on or near water is so special. 🙂

    • Thanks, Elaine. I’ll continue to check out the savvy observations and advice from all you talented TKZers, and read the comments from our astute followers!

  3. Jodie,

    Your posts are the ones I share most frequently with critique buddies and writers I mentor. Always meaty, informative, explanatory. You’re a treasure trove of wisdom. Even though we’ve never met, I consider you a trusted writing friend. I’ll miss you, but hope our paths may cross on a hiking trail. I live near Glacier Park in Montana and you have an open invitation to visit.

    Many thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Debbie. I’m so glad you found my posts here helpful. Since I won’t be posting a lot more articles on writing compelling fiction, feel free to recommend my editor’s writing guides to your critique buddies, too! 😉

      And I’d love to come to Montana sometime, if you can organize a group of writers who’d like one or two of my writing workshops. I grew up in the coastal mountains of BC, many of which are as high as the Rockies, so I’d really feel at home in Montana!

      Good luck with all your writing projects! 🙂

  4. Do you have a guest room?

    Seriously, all the best to you in this new phase of your life. I don’t blame you a bit for doing it and I am sure we are all envious.

    • Yes, I do, Kris, and you and your hubby (or sister) are welcome to come and visit!

      Yes, I’ll miss you all here, but I’m looking forward to new, more physically active and sociable pursuits.

      And I’ll continue to follow your excellent alternate Tuesday posts – they’re always so informative and well-written!

  5. I’ve enjoyed all your posts, Jodie. Your books are in my Kindle. Enjoy your hiking, etc. Time to have some fun away from the computer screen. I think we can all relate to that. Blessings!

  6. Jodie –
    What a loss for TKZ!
    I met you through this blog and have since had the incredible benefit of your editing skills. Your contributions on TKZ provide only a glimpse of the knowledge and commitment you bring to editing. – fantastic!
    The comments recognize your selfless focus on educating and helping writers become better at their craft – so true. You have a remarkable gift and are so genuinely giving – you are a gem in the world of writing!
    You have more than earned the right to transitioning to a more relaxed and healthy lifestyle in your beautiful B.C. homeland. A hearty congratulations on the brilliant contributions you made here on TKZ and wishing you all the best!
    Your friend – tom
    PS – a certain Minnesota physician-author is hoping to continue to benefit from your incredible knowledge and skills as an editor (perhaps between samba-dancing and mountain hikes?)

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Tom! It was a real pleasure editing your riveting medical thriller, and I’d love to work with you again. How could I turn down the chance to work on another fascinating novel by a talented writer, former client, and now good friend?

  7. We are going to miss you, Jodie–we’ll sent up a distress signal whenever we have critical editing questions in the future! Seriously, it’s important to take stock and take care of health, family, and one’s well -being in life. I expect your next book to provide some guidance along those lines to the rest of us!

    • Kathryn, it’s been a real pleasure and a great honor working with you on your “baby,” which has turned into a highly rated, multi-award-winning blog! You may hear from me occasionally, if I come up with a post that I feel will be valuable to our followers.

      Thanks for being so great to work with for the last few years!

      Warmest regards, Jodie

  8. *puddles up* *waves bye-bye with sticky little hand*

    Seriously, thank you for your time at TKZ and your great books on writing. Have tons of fun and see ya around here and Facebook!


    • Thanks, Terri. *bye-bye back* I’ve really enjoyed your insightful, articulate, and often amusing comments here! But we’ll still connect regularly here and on Facebook, I’m sure! 🙂

  9. Jodie, we’ll miss you.

    I’ve enjoyed and learned so much from your posts here at TKZ.

    I will treasure the autographed copies of Writing a Killer Thriller, Fire up Your Fiction, and Captivate Your Readers. I very much enjoyed meeting you and hearing your workshop lectures in Nashville.

    I will continue to follow you on Facebook, and maybe sneak in an editing question from time to time.

    Tom knows of a physician-author in Minnesota who was hoping to call on your editing skills in the future. I know of a physician-author in Ohio who was hoping the same.

    Hope you truly enjoy your extra time. And when you get bored, all of us here at TKZ would love to read a guest blog from you.

    All the best,


    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Steve! It was a pleasure meeting you at Steven James’ conference in Nashville! And thanks so much for the fabulous hand-crafted pen! I’m glad you have found my 3 writing guides useful for your fiction-writing projects.

      I didn’t know you were also a physician. Best of luck with all of your endeavors, and I look forward to reading your next novel, either as an editor or a reader!

      Keep on Writing!

      – Jodie 🙂

  10. Dear Jodie, thank you for all the resources you provided for the authors! Your new chapter in life sounds exciting, extremely meaningful and wonderful! Wishing you a lot of fun in all your undertakings and looking forward to all the guest posts hear on TKZ and also posts on your blog.

    • Thanks so much for your well-wishes, Victoria! Much appreciated, as I start a new chapter in my life. I’ll be sure to check back regularly, though, and hopefully write a guest post from time to time! 🙂

  11. Jodie,
    I’ve enjoyed and learned something new from all your posts and two of your books already placed in my writing/reading library. Best wishes going forward.

    • Thanks for stopping to comment, Frances. I’m glad you have found my books and articles helpful for your writing! Keep on learning and writing! Give us your full name if you like, so we can look for your published books when they come out! 🙂

  12. Jodie,

    Thank you for all your wonderful posts here at TKZ, as well as your books on craft and editing! It was privilege to beta read “Captivate Your Readers.” I’ll definitely miss your posts here. See you on Facebook!

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Dale! And for your invaluable advice as beta reader of my latest book! Good luck with all your writing projects! 🙂

  13. Jodie:
    Hate to see you are leaving TKZ, my go to page for daily advice. Have looked forward to each of your contributions and help topics. Anyway, wishing you the very best.

    Jim Curts

    • Thanks for your kind words, Jim! I’m glad you found my posts helpful. The good news is you can click on the links above to revisit them whenever you wish! And of course, continue to follow TKZ for ongoing wisdom from the talented writers “on staff” here! 🙂

  14. I’m sorry you’ll be leaving the Kill Zone, but I so much identify with your reasons. I feel I spend way too much time at the computer myself.

    Thanks bunches for hosting me here. and thanks for offering this great list of some of your most valuable blogposts. I’m bookmarking it and I’ll send my readers here to answer all their pressing questions. This is a goldmine!

    Oh, yeah, and have some fun out there in Real Life Land!

    • Thanks for all your kind words, Anne, and for your excellent guest post here! And thank you so much for sending others here, too!

      I’ll be following your award-winning blog regularly and sending writers there. Let’s continue to stay in touch on Facebook and by email.

      Do take care of yourself! I’ll be checking on you!

      Hugs, Jodie 🙂

  15. Hey, Jodie. I would say I’m going to miss your great blog posts, but I know where to find your great writing advice in your craft books. You’ve helped a lot lot writers along the way. Have a blast in your new life!

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, LJ, and I know we’ll keep in touch! Best of luck with all your future endeavors, too! I look forward to hearing about what’s around the corner for you. 🙂

  16. Jodie, I am so sorry to see you go, but like the others, wish you the best. Have a wonderful time with friends and family. They are what keep us going in order to do what we do. I have bookmarked many of the posts I have missed and I still have your books too. I look forward to reading them all. Thank you for all of your help. You are seriously invaluable to us “newbies.” 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Rebecca! You’ve made me feel all warm and fuzzy! 🙂 I’m so glad I’ve helped you hone your writing skills and I look forward to reading your stories!

  17. I totally know how you feel … I haven’t blogged in 4 months at Murder She Writes. Time!

    I love your new home! I love BC and if I am ever up there, you know who I will be calling! 🙂 … I wish you a LOT of happiness, a lot of great hikes, and peace of mind in your new (old?) home.

    And I’ve bookmarked this blog so I have a list of all your fabulous articles in one place 🙂


    • Allison, I continue to be amazed at all you accomplish, churning out those high-quality bestselling books and speaking at conferences, with all your family (and pet) commitments! You must have somehow unlocked the secret to being cloned!

      It was great having you guest blog here, and I look forward to keeping in touch on Facebook and hopefully seeing you at the odd conference here and there.

      Take care. – Jodie xoxo

  18. God speed in your future endeavors! Thank you for having Steven James guest blog. Steven is one of my favorite writers and was the reason I happened upon The Kill Zone. Once here I was hooked and now have The Kill Zone bookmarked as one of my browser home pages. I visit TKZ daily.

  19. Thanks, Jodie! The Kill Zone will miss you.
    All the best in your future endeavors.

    • Thanks, Steven. Good luck with all your projects, too. And I’m sure TKZ would love to have you guest post again here any time! 🙂

    • Thanks, Bob! It was great to have you as a guest here. I can’t wait till your next book! And hopefully see you at a conference soon. 🙂

  20. Good for you for finding some work-life balance, Jodie! I am happy you have settled in a place that feels like home, and are enjoying the richness of the world beyond the screen. It is easy to forget how important that is. 🙂


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