I hope that my writing tips will give you pause for thought, help develop your writing or even provide a hint of inspiration. Come back soon to see the next tip.
Some folks like to revise everything slowly and carefully and their first draft is perfect and needs no alteration. It takes them days to perfect each sentence and hone their body of work in the “Madonna” school of writing. If you’re one of these you don’t need any words from me.
I take the more slap happy approach. Let’s get the story down in pencil on a pad or notepad, then wait a few days and type into computer and print off a hard copy to read aloud, tear to pieces and chew over, alter on screen and add or subtract bits of text. Reading aloud sure does throw up repetitions and annoying words.
- If it bores you to read it then it will bore others too. Does your research show, great wads of information that clogs up the action? Cut, cut cut... If it moves you to tears after several readings, then something must be working.
- Stephen King said “Let your first draft be done behind closed doors” For your eyes and ears only. Get the story written first or at least a good chunk of it. Chances are by the time you’ve finished you’ll come to the beginning fresh as if reading it for the first time: Another chance to comb through the text and pull out the extraneous matter, the bits of fluff, the nits, the tangles. WHEN IN DOUBT ,CUT...You know what I mean: Time then to open the door on your work and show it to others, preferably people who will give you positive criticism and encouraging suggestions.
- If truth be told I alter each time I put it back on screen, expand details and try to make sure things flow. Too many “hads” and “shes”, too many adverbs and “nice” words make for sloppy writing. The nice word should be banned in favour of a more subtle description. Being picky is what separates good prose from average, mundane from magic.
- Your writing is your voice with your rhythm and unique style. It marks you out from other writers, your choice of words and descriptive power. Let it sing. Are you a Ella Fitzgerald or Diana Ross, Sammy Davis Junior or Pavarotti?
Agents say that the first thing they notice is whether the writing dances or is Dead On the Page, whether it is alive or dead, excites or bores.
- Of course presentation should be professional and neatly typed on double spaced lines and spelling should be regular. That is a given. It shows we take pride in our writing but if the words are heavy, hard to read in confused sentences, it shows we’ve not practised our craft enough to entertain.
- Beginning writers must, read and read and read other good writing, practice, go to classes and be prepared to get it wrong before they get it right. My worry about e self publishing is stuff is getting up there that’s not been edited critically. No baby gets up and walks before it crawls but tries to reach up or shuffles and flops over to start again. We all begin by writing badly at times, getting it messed up. So what? If you love your craft you just keep beavering away until it gets a little easier and we hit some high notes and sing in tune.
Not everyone can be Pavarotti or Beyonce but by taking our work seriously we can be the best we can be…
Enjoy your writing!