Fire up Your Fiction

wd_honmention_90presidents_book_award_90NIEA_Finalist_2014_90indiefab-finalist-imprint_90Read. Fav. silver-shiny-web (low res)





An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Stories

Jodie Renner 

Fire up Your Fiction (formerly titled Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power)  received a Silver Medal in the Florida Authors & Publishers President’s Book Awards for 2013, a Silver Medal in the Readers’ Favorite Awards for 2014, and an Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book Awards for 2013. It was also a finalist in both the Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Available in trade paperback or e-book form. Print: $11.99 USD; 14.99 CAD. E-book: $2.99.

“What a wonderful resource for writers at any stage of their career! I wish I had this book when I first started writing. … I can’t think of anything important that you haven’t addressed succinctly and clearly. … This should be on the booklist for Master’s Programs in Writing for Publication. … You must be a wonderful editor to be able to write such a readable, but comprehensive book.”

~ Judge, Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards, Jan. 2014

“This book is packed with good advice on how to spot and fix weaknesses in your fiction writing. It summarizes the combined wisdom of the last century or so of fiction teachers into one handy volume.”

~ Randy Ingermanson, bestselling author of Writing Fiction for Dummies

“A handy checklist and self-editing guide that will get any fiction writer to a stronger, well-told tale.”

~ James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Revision & Self-Editing, Plot & Structure, and The Art of War for Writers and #1 Bestselling Writing Coach

“Jodie Renner’s FIRE UP YOUR FICTION is a handy manual for writers looking to make the biggest impact with their craft. …

“FIRE UP YOUR FICTION is the Strunk and White for writers who want to be not just mere storytellers but master story-compellers.”

~ Judge, IndieReader Discovery Awards

Buy the print version on Amazon and get the e-book for only $0.99


Fiction writers – if you’re looking to hone your style, avoid style gaffes, bring your scenes to life, tighten up your writing, pick up the pace, and develop a more authentic, appealing voice, this book is for you.

You’ll get clear, concrete advice, with examples, for:

  • Writing a compelling opening
  • Avoiding amateurish style blunders
  • Showing instead of telling
  • Streamlining your writing
  • Picking up the pace
  • Fixing awkward phrasing
  • Writing sentences that flow
  • Showing character emotions and reactions
  • Avoiding info dumps
  • Choosing words that nail it
  • Breaking formal writing habits
  • Creating tense action scenes
  • Writing natural-sounding dialogue
  • Finding your authentic voice


Introduction – What Will This Book Do For You?


Chapter 1: Zoom Out First – Amp up, Revise, or Cut Any Scenes That Don’t Zing 

Chapter 2: Your First Pages are Critical

  • Dos & Don’ts for an Opening That Hooks Readers In

Chapter 3: Show, Don’t Tell

Chapter 4: Bring Your Characters to Life by Showing Their Reactions

Chapter 5: Show Emotions, But Don’t be Melodramatic

Chapter 6: Stimulus & Response – Phrasing for Immediacy and Power

  • State Cause before Effect, Action before Reaction

Chapter 7: It’s a Story, Not an Instruction Manual!

  • Don’t Get too Technical
  • Renegade Body Parts
  • Don’t Have Eyes Doing Weird Things

Chapter 8: Info Dumps, Lectures, & Other Author Intrusions

  • Info Dumps
  • Soap-Boxing
  • Pontificating
  • Too Much Backstory
  • Dumping into Dialogue – AYKB

Chapter 9: Need to Impart Factual Info? Use Lots of Attitude!

  • Turning Impersonal Info into Compelling Copy

Chapter 10: Writing Tense Action Scenes

  • Tips and Before-and-After Examples

Chapter 11: Voice – That Elusive but Critical Element 


Chapter 12: How to Slash Your Word Count by 20–50% …without losing any of the good stuff!

Chapter 13: Don’t Insult Your Readers by Overexplaining

  • One plus One Equals a Half
  • R.U.E.
  • Show, Don’t Tell

Chapter 14: Shed Those Wordy Habits & Cut to the Chase

  • Quick Tips for Decluttering
  • Manage those Modifiers
  • Smooth out Clunky Phrasing

Chapter 15: Condense Clusters of Words & Reject Redundancies

  • Before-and-After Examples

Chapter 16: Break Those Formal Writing Habits

  • Avoid Overly Correct, Convoluted Sentences
  • Don’t Drown Your Readers in Details
  • Condense Long-Winded Dialogue

Chapter 17: Dangling Participles, Misplaced Modifiers, & Other Awkward Constructions

  • Logistical Impossibilities
  • Dangling Participles
  • Misplaced Modifiers


Chapter 18: Create Sentences That Flow

Chapter 19: Pick up the Pace for a Real Page-Turner

Chapter 20: Pacing for Power – Expand the Moment to Increase Tension & Suspense


Chapter 21: Choose Words That Nail It

  • People in Motion
  • Words for “Walked”
  • Replacements for “Run”
  • Different ways of Looking

Chapter 22: Cut Those Clichés – Most of the Time 


Chapter 23: Dialogue That’s Real and Riveting

  • Dialogue Needs Tension
  • Loosen up the Language
  • Keep it Real!
  • Everybody Speaks Differently

Chapter 24: Dialogue Turn-Offs

  • Don’t Mangle Characters’ Speech
  • Don’t Try to Keep up with the Latest Slang
  • Don’t Overdo the Profanities
  • Don’t Reproduce Actual Conversations

Chapter 25: Dialogue Nuts & Bolts

  • Punctuation, Capitalization, etc.

Chapter 26: Expressing Thought-Reactions

  • Direct Thoughts and Indirect Thoughts


Chapter 27: Style Blunders That Confuse, Annoy, or Bore Your Readers

You Be the Editor 

Some Excellent Resources for Fiction Writers

Appendix – Scene Outline Form


Excerpts from Some of the Many 5-Star Reviews on Amazon for Fire up Your Fiction (formerly titled Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power):

Fire up Your Fiction (Style that Sizzles) is a book every fiction writer needs to have. I’ve read dozens of writing craft books, and this one is a gem. Jodie Renner addresses all the crucial issues and components in a novel and shows with great right-and-wrong examples how to trim and tighten your writing. […] As a professional novelist, copyeditor, and writing coach, I can honestly say this comprehensive book covers everything a writer at any level needs to make a novel sizzle.”

~ Susanne (C.S.) Lakin, author and editor

“After reading Fire up Your Fiction: An Editor’s Guide, I want author Jodie Renner on my writing ‘Dream Team’!

“This book inspired a complete manuscript rewrite using Jodie’s professional perspective. I learned volumes about writing and myself in this concise editor’s guide.”

~ Mark Wayne Adams, President, Florida Authors and Publishers Association, Oct. 9, 2014

“This book packs in a wealth of tested how-to advice. Clearly, the author has a depth of personal experience in the writing craft. As a university tutor in fiction writing, I now recommend it to all my students. […] It’s written for the serious writer and goes quickly to the heart of what works, with plenty of real-world examples. Highly recommended.”

~ Nigel J. Robinson, England

“Ms. Renner is a treasure chest, her advice all precious coins and gems. Thank you!

“What I love most about her books is that she doesn’t simply tell you how to make your work better, she SHOWS you how to make your work better, using small examples and anecdotes that pack enough energy to bypass your lazy conscious self and slam directly into your subconscious where all the real work is done on any a manuscript.

“The book is nicely designed, and each chapter has plenty of short, punchy sections set off with bold headings. Makes it very easy to read. You can stop in for a short visit, mine for a few nuggets of gold, and leave. Repeat as necessary.

“Even after all these years in the book publishing biz, I am happy to say that I am still learning and improving, and Ms Renner’s books are my absolute favorite resources and learning tools. I only wish I’d found her years ago!

“Her books are better than my previous longtime favorite, The Art of Fiction by John Gardner, although his guide should be in your library, too.

“If you’re a writer, young and starting your career, or older and in the middle of it, you owe it to yourself and your artwork to read Ms. Renner’s books. That’s the best advice I can give anyone who writes fiction. Heck, even if you write nonfiction, buy her books!”

~ William D. Garner, AdagioPress

“Jodie Renner’s award-winning Fire up Your Fiction (Style that Sizzles & Pacing for Power) packs a knock-out punch in its 170 jewel-laden pages. This clearly written, access-friendly work provides the distilled wisdom of Jodie and multiple other fiction-writing gurus (James Scott Bell, Donald Maass, Sol Stein – just to name a few).

“Sizzles is the tightest and most useful collection of fiction writing tips and guidelines I have found. Whether you are starting your first book or deep in revision of your tenth, you will love this incredibly effective writing tool.

“I eagerly recommend this book. You will be pleased.”

~ Tom Combs, MD

“… this volume is packed with plenty of digestible literary protein that will feed writers and make them eager for action.[…] Packed with information, accurate and inspiring, Fire up Your Fiction: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Stories will help you transform your fiction into a more marketable product.”

~ Bil Howard, Reviewer for Readers’ Favorite, 2014

“Jodie Renner has achieved a remarkable feat here – she’s distilled everything a fiction writer needs to know to draft edgy, compelling fiction into a short and sweet book. And she’s done it by excluding all the fluff other craft books use as filler. […] What’s exceptionally useful is that the book is essentially a micro-manual for quick, easy-to-learn techniques to pare down your writing and make it lean and mean.

“Ms. Renner is the queen of thrillers and other crime fiction, but the invaluable advice provided here is applicable to anything you write, including non-fiction.”

~ Eyeclocker

“Great news for fiction writers! Jodie Renner’s Style That Sizzles has arrived! Before Jodie, self-editing was painful. After reading and using this book, I found it much easier – even fun – to go through my manuscripts and take out the trash. Her examples of her own editing are what did the trick for me, making her book the most useful writing guide I have run across yet. […] If you dream of writing a book that sells, buy this one to get you there faster!”

~ Kayak Writer

“There are many ‘how to write fiction’ books out there, but this is the only one I need for writing and editing my fiction. I feel everything I need to know to make my writing tight and compelling, I’ve found in this nice, compact, repository of great advice. […] Maybe it’s because she’s an actual editor rather than another writer who has learned through the pitfalls of writing?

“The examples are clear and the writing is precise. It’s exactly the kind of information I needed in a ‘how to’ book, and the knowledge that this author edits for a living makes this purchase well worth it to me.”

~ Diane Carlisle