Wednesday, August 10, 2011

18 Writing Tips to Move your Process Forward


Just write! I know you’ve heard this before but editing while you write only delays THE END. Worry about editing once the story is finished.


Train your Editor’s Hat you wear to eliminate such things as:

- ‘that’- if the sentence is clear without it, then delete it.

- ‘he said, stuttering’ – make it clear in your dialogue that he/she is stuttering and avoid using this in the tagline. A dialogue must convey the meaning of the character’s thoughts/actions/moods without having to tell the reader how he/she feels: “I…I don’t know what you’re ta…talking about.” Let the sentence give the essence of their dialogue.


If you’re one of those writers who can’t get in tune with a writing schedule then make sure you write something down everyday, even if it’s a sentence or two. Moving your work forward when you have a chance is better than waiting for a long, quiet moment to write. That may never happen and guess what…your story will never get done. Carry a notebook with you to write down your inspirations as they come to you wherever you go.


Blocked on a certain passage in your story? Let it go for a spell and return to it with a fresh outlook. At times, working on another story will allow you to leave that ‘can’t think what to write next’ box you’ve placed yourself in. Or move on to THE END. Sometimes jumping a chapter helps. You need to find your own writing ‘mojo’.


Don’t look at your first draft with disappointment. This is, after all, only a first draft, possibly riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes. The second, third, even tenth draft will tighten it up. Remember that your first draft is like the wrinkled sheet on your bed. Slowly you’ll iron each wrinkle out to reveal a clean and smooth sheet of words.


For stay-at-home writers, ignore the nagging telephone ring, the doorbell, the friends requesting to come over for a coffee, the dirt sitting on your coffee table, the laundry threatening to take over the entire first floor…when you sit down by your computer to write, clear your mind and don’t allow distractions to rule this time.


Make sure to write every day. Did I mention this? Oh well, it’s important enough to mention again and again.


Read. The reason for this is for you to notice some of your favorite authors techniques, such as:

how do they start their stories to grab their reader’s interest,

do they use a lot of descriptive detail or do they use a mixture of dialogue and descriptive passages to move the plot forward,

how do they describe a character’s descriptive detail,

how are the subplots formed to help the main plot along,

do they get right into the action or slowly introduce and build/foreshadow what’s to come,

how are the inner and outer emotional conflicts projected

and most importantly, how do they wrap up the conclusion.


While you’re pacing the floor waiting for the postman to deliver the acceptance/rejection letter…STOP pacing and begin writing the new project. Why waste time when that creative juice in you is so hot it’s waiting to get on paper. This is why we’re called writers because we’re ALWAYS coming down with new ideas.


Are you waiting for that special desk for your office? Or did you run out of computer paper? Maybe no ink in the pen? Well, there’s a kitchen table and chair to use as a desk in the meantime…there’s looseleaf paper to use instead of computer paper and write it longhand…and there’s always a pencil for you to use. Stop making excuses.


If you believe it’s not going to happen to you, well, think again. Back up your files every week. Trust me…I know what I’m talking about and you don’t want to be pulling out your hair like I did.


Now, you never know when that brilliant plot or character is going to strike your creative muse so a good idea is to keep several notebooks in various areas around your home all ready with a pen to jot down your thoughts. And yes, even the bathroom.


Begin researching publishing houses to fit the genre you write in. A good tip is to go to your local bookstore, pick up published books you’ve read and believe are similar to your style and genre, and check in the beginning where they mention who the publisher is. Google it and then read their submission guidelines. The Writer’s Market annual book is another valuable resource to have in your home library.


Join an online writer’s group. You’ll be amazed at the resources you’ll find in there. Also, either join a critique group or find yourself a critique buddy. It’s always smart to have someone else look over your work and guide you where changes are needed in your manuscript that you may have missed. A second pair of eyes is always the smart way to go.


Subscribe to online writers newsletters. Many are FREE and some containing exclusive markets have a small yearly fee.


Keep your readers abreast on your newest releases, book signings and anything else pertinent to your writing career by having them subscribe to your newsletter.


Do you find writing a novel too much of an effort? Then write short stories. Seek out calls for submissions for various anthology projects put out by publishers or other writers.


And the last but most important aspect is to STAY POSITIVE. There will be rejections, there will be harsh critiques, and there will be bad reviews. From all three what you need to take away is the fact you write because you have a passion. So learn from these rejections, critiques, and reviews and make sure you hone your craft.

The Halloween Dino Trip


jean hart stewart said...

Great post, Lea. I particularly like the one about leaving notebooks around the house. I'm always acribbling on a scrap of paper and then scrambling to find it. Jean

Lisa Forget said...

Thanks for this list of great tips. We need to be reminded to keep at it. I've retweeted this!
:) Lisa

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Outstanding post, Lea. Every new and old writer should read this.