This blog—Writers' Inspirational Tips—is about helping, advising, sharing. For would-be writers. For beginner writers. For advanced writers. For anyone who needs inspiration.
* * *First: Four Helpful Books . . .
On Writing by Stephen King
Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan
The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide for Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman
A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation by Noah Lukeman
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I read a long time ago this great tip to help your work flow: Every sentence should hold hands.
In other words, one idea or thought or statement should lead to the next.
Now, in no particular order, here are my tips . . .
- Don’t let your writing get in the way of the story. Don’t over explain or over describe.
- For a writer, the DELETE key is the hardest key to strike. If it makes you feel better, save all your deleted work in a separate file. You never know if you'll want the words back (you hardly ever do, though).
- Have something magical or mysterious happen early on. (Children’s writing).
- On show don’t tell: Don’t have your character say it’s painful: have them scream.
- Edit, edit, edit.
* Edit by reading your work aloud (you'll feel weird at first but you'll spot where the flow doesn't work and you'll spot mistakes).
* Edit reading in a big font.
* Edit reading a small font.
* Edit a double-spaced printout (your work should be double-spaced anyway).
* Edit a printout, 2-page, book style format (really important if you've written a book).
* Leave work alone for a couple of weeks and then edit again.
- On having no time to write: If you only write one page a day, at the end of one year you'll will have written 365 pages—a book.
- On feeling overwhelmed: Break it down. You’re not writing a book—you’re writing a chapter. If that’s still too big, you’re not writing a chapter—you’re writing a paragraph. Or a scene. A sentence. A word.
- When reading another author's book, study their style and technique, even where they place their punctuation for effect.
- At all times, keep a note pad and pen handy. Yes, you’ll forget that great idea later.
- Change your routine up: Write when you first wake up. Write in the middle of the night. Write in a coffee shop. Write on a train.
- Can't find your character's voice: Write in first person.
- Less is more. Don’t break up the action with description.
- Make your writing feel real by moving in close: e.g. Notice an eyelash.
- On writer’s block:
Imagine a moment first. Then write it.
- Only write what you are passionately interested in. Then you’ll still enjoy your story on the fiftieth revision.
- Don’t rely on your computer’s spellchecker alone. For instance, it won’t spot there when it should be their.
- Give yourself permission to enjoy writing. Stop frowning. Now.
- Your mistakes help you grow as a writer. Don’t knock yourself on the head. Learn from them and don’t give up.
- On the first draft: Forget editing until you're actually editing.
- Don’t discuss your story with anyone until you’ve got the first draft down. Or you may never get that story written.
- Learn the quick way to search and replace words on your computer software to save yourself hours of wasted time.
- Your work should be fresh and new. Take out clichés such as: sharp as a knife, two peas in a pod.
- Give me white space--please. Don't let your paragraphs go on and on ...
MUSIC TO A WRITER'S EARS
"I'll cook lunch."
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Interesting Word of the Day ~~~ scattershot
Catherine Harriott is the author of children's time-travel novel: Missing in Time
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