Writing Tips

Inspiration comes to writers at different times. Usually when doing something other than writing: taking a walk, enjoying a bath, watching a sunset.

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.

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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 clich├ęs 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 ...


"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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