This page is dedicated to all the writers out there who continue to hone their craft. In an effort to pay it forward, I would like to share some of the things I have learned along my self-taught journey. Much of what I’m going to share would have saved me time and lots of rewriting so hopefully these tips can help someone else. Below are the topics I’m going to cover, as I have time to write my thoughts on each. If the topic is a link, then all my little nuggets of wisdom are packed into a post, and if not, come back soon! I’ll try to get them up as fast as I can.
When I first started writing, I spent an absurd amount of time on the websites of big publishing houses, checking out their author's pages. I read every tip featured by authors, trying to figure out how to make my writing better. It was really helpful to see things I should be focusing on. I don’t claim to have all the answers- these tips are just what worked for me. I hope they help!
(Eventually each topic will be LINKED to a more detailed explanation. Please visit again!)
Starter Tips for Newbies
Genre- If you don’t know what genre you’re writing, you are setting yourself up for major rewriting!
Point of View- This can make or break your book. I wrote the beginning of my book in three different POV’s because I didn’t understand this enough. LEARN IT before you start.
Know Your Audience- If you’re doing it right, your writing will be totally different depending on your target audience. It’s much more difficult to “write in” nuances throughout your story for your readers.
Outlining vs. Pantsers- This has to do with HOW you get your story from the gripping beginning to the can't-put-it-down finish. Some writers outline, and some “fly by the seat of their pants.” I’m a pantser who wishes I could be as creative outlining as I am when my characters just take the story and run.
Show, Don't Tell- The mantra drilled into every writer's head. The whole reason for writing is to evoke emotion in your reader and the only way to do that is by showing instead of telling. See some ways to identify when you've fallen into telling, and some tricks to correct it.
Pacing- How to structure your story so you don’t lose your readers.
Things to AVOID- Adverbs, prologues, tags other than “said,” adverbs to modify “said,” exclamation points, words like “suddenly,” dialects, and passive voice. Editing will be a nightmare if you don’t know these rules. Learn them upfront and save yourself tons of time.
Support Tips for Pounding the Pavement
Read, Read, Read… and Watch Movies!- If you want to take your writing to the next level, you MUST read. A lot. Multiple genres. If you want some recommendations, you can follow me on Goodreads. I’m usually reading two or three books at a time. I have to say that watching movies is also a great way to get better at writing- focus on what is working for the plot, study structure, pacing and character development.
So You Think You Know How Your Story Goes . . . - Don't be afraid to reanalyze scenes to ensure you're moving your story forward in the BEST way. Just because you've imagined it one way, doesn't mean it's the way your story should go.
FINISH the First Draft- I spent so much time trying to revise what I had already written, it took me much longer than it should have to get through my first draft. There is something to be said for the momentum gained by pushing through until you can write: THE END.
Be Consistent, Establish a Writing Routine- When you’re writing consistently, every part of writing becomes easier.
Spend Time Giving Your Characters Depth- There’s nothing worse than a good story falling flat because we don’t CARE enough about the characters.
Scrivener- My favorite writing software- it’s intuitive and fantastic in every way! This CHANGED MY LIFE.
Take Yourself Seriously- Because so much time is involved before getting published, you have to give yourself permission to OWN what you’re doing. You are a writer, and it’s OK to tell people. They will only take you seriously if you are serious about it.
Join or Start a Critique Group- Part of writing is learning how to critique and be critiqued. In my opinion, a good writing group is essential to growing as a writer. Make sure the one you participate in is structured in such a way that it actually ends up being beneficial.
Once You’ve Reached the End- Congrats! It’s Actually the Beginning!
Query Letter Tips- I can’t even tell you how much time I spent writing and reworking my query letter. It's VITAL that you craft your query letter until it showcases your manuscript in a way that will make agents feel like they have to have it.
Who Do You Want as Your Agent?- Tips on honing in on the right agent for you and your career.
Have a Professional Website- This is the next step in taking yourself seriously as a writer.
Establish an Online Presence through Social Media- Social Media is the fastest way to reach the largest audience. It may seem time consuming, but if you can find a healthy balance, it will be worth the time investment. Plus, it's a lot of fun! Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, Goodreads, Pinterest, Google +, StumbleUpon etc. Figure out which ones work for you!
What’s Your Book About?- Know how to answer this question with your elevator pitch- under 25 words, your hook- a paragraph, and be able to summarize without stumbling. Never underestimate the power of a tight log line.
Have a Blog or Write Articles for any Public Porum- Exposure is key. You can see my blog here.
Engage- With everyone and anyone. Be everywhere. Have something to say, be gracious, be thankful to those who help you along the way and verbalize your appreciation. Support fellow writers and be the first to promote everything you find interesting or compelling. Don’t spam - there’s nothing worse than someone who isn’t genuine.