Today I am doing a post about writing and some of the simple writing advice that I think is really important to remember. Now, I am not an expert at all, but I’ve heard this advice and think it is timeless and pretty universal. This is also a great opportunity for you all to tell your wisdom as well because I LOVE to know people’s favourite advice and it will help me (thank you in advance).
But here is my basic writing advice that you shouldn’t forget….
(1) INTRODUCE BIG DETAILS OF THE SETTING OF THE SCENE FIRST, THEN WEAVE SMALLER DETAILS THROUGHOUT.
SOURCE: TUMBLR USER, JUSTAWRITINGAID
When trying to set the scene it can be hard to know where to start especially as a beginner. I kept thinking they need to know the angle of the blades of grass and the distance between each character. But the best way is to start with the big things (i.e. forest at night) so they get the important details immediately. You can tell them about the bluebell dancing with the moonlight later as you slide it into plot or dialogue.
It is more interesting this way because books which over describe everything are just a bit boring, you don’t want to be 5 pages into the chapter and still writing about the wind movement. So, this is a stable, trustworthy rule.
(2) ‘SAID’ IS NOT A WORD TO BE AFRAID OF
Primary school acted like ‘said’ was the worse word and the only way to improve writing was by using any word but said. This is not true. ‘Said’ is more than good enough. When you use lots of different words for said it ends up actually looking like a primary school kid wrote it (the same with similes I find).
Obviously at times you should use other words for ‘said’ as these can be great for situation which need to display something more but don’t be afraid of using ‘said’ either. Also, dialogue works best when you mix it up with action, just saying.
(3) MIX LONG AND SHORT
Pacing is way more complicated than this, but this can help so much. Mix long and short paragraphs, scenes, dialogues, chapters, sentences, actions, everything. It looks and reads better. Don’t have a uniform length for anything, mix it up. This can literally change the way words feel. (That sounds dramatic and cheesy but it’s true)
(4) FORGET YOUR GENERALISED AUDIENCE – JOHN STEINBECK
This is really important because the only thing a generalised audience can provide is contradiction. For example, if I go on twitter and tried to write a book for the first 100 book tweets I saw it will be full of different things that don’t work together and amid all these voices, you lose your own distinct voice which is going to make this book what it is.
There is no universal book so stop trying to write it and focus on what you love and want. It will give you the best results. Or focus on your ‘one ideal reader’, you know the imaginary reader you are writing this for, sometimes you have to block everyone out and just fall into their arms to remember the reason you are writing your book.
(5) GOOD DIALOGUE ILLUMINATES WHAT PEOPLE ARE NOT SAYING – ROBERT TOWNE
This is probably the vaguest point here, but I think it is really important. Characters aren’t open books if they are anything like real people and readers don’t like to be hand-fed every detail. Part of the joy of reading it figuring it out and building this picture. So, don’t worry about not getting every detail spelled out on the page, just try to find out if it is there, in the character’s very being and essence.
(6) YOUR STORY SHOULD BE 50% LEFT WITH HOLES FOR THE READERS TO FILL IN, NEGATIVE SPACE TO PUZZLE.
SOURCE: TUMBLR USER, WRITE-LIKE-A-FREAK
So, this links to the previous point but you really shouldn’t spell everything out for the readers. It can make it a boring read. Let the readers be an active participant in this story, they will love you and your story for this. (see this pin for more detail)
(7) EMOTIONAL SCENES = WRITING LESS.
Emotional scenes can be really hard but the most powerful thing I’ve noticed is when they are minimal. Sadness and all these traumatic emotions are often surrounded by silence and it makes the feelings so much grander and real. The silence and stillness of the words can create a lot of feelings and they’re atmospheric. When I want to write something impactful, emotional, I will use less words but make sure the words I’m using have the biggest effect possible.
(1) A WRITER NEVER FINDS THE TIME TO WRITE. A WRITER MAKES IT. – NORA ROBERTS
I have a thousand excuses not to write every day and I could easily never write. There will always be something else, so I have to make time if I want to do this. It won’t just happen. I have to make this happen. I know time is reliant on privilege as well but starting and finishing a book will requiring lots of carving out of your free time which you will have to actively choose to do.
This is a big one for me as I do love to procrastinate.
(2) THE FIRST DRAFT OF ANYTHING IS SHIT – ERNEST HEMMINWAY
I actually used to hate this advice as it felt like what I was working on and felt pretty good about was being called rubbish but then the self-doubt came in these words were like music to my ears.
First drafts are just the beginning and barely resemble the end product, so you do have to remember that this is the first step to making it something to be proud of. You are just beginning to know this project and it will improve over time as you work on it so never compare it to an end product because they are simply incomparable.
(3) THERE IS NOT ONE PATH TO BECOMING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR. DREAMS AREN’T THAT BASIC.
This is important to remember because writing a book, or any dream, doesn’t have a generic ‘to-do’ this list you must complete. There are thousands of ways to achieve something and just because you aren’t doing it like that one professional writer, doesn’t mean that your way is any less. Keep going, keep dreaming.
This point means something to me as I hated English and chose not to go to university so sometimes it feels like being a writer is out of my reach, but I honestly don’t think it that simple anymore.
(4) IT JUST MADE ME HAPPY, SO I DID IT. – ALICE OSEMAN.
I love this quote. It is so simple yet so easily forgotten. We all want happiness but basically everything can distract you from actually getting it. And I think with writing a book, you have to be passionate and happy about this project to get the best results. You don’t want to put your blood, sweat and tears into something you don’t really care about. Do you know how hard and miserable that would be?? (not to mention the end result would suffer for it).
I also love this because it reminds you to not focus on doing it for money (because lol), for a critic’s love, for fandoms, for approval or even for publication. You have to do it for yourself because it is the only way it will be any good, it is the only way you can love the final product. The enjoyment of creating should be the reason you start and the reason you finish, right??
Ok there we go.
Now I have a writing board on pinterest which I adore
and is the only reason I became a writer but it has over 600 pins. So, I created a new board with my top 20 pins which is based on this type of ‘simple’ advice. I love it because it instructs you how to improve your writing as it is easy and straight forward yet can have massive impacts so please check the pins out HERE. I made sure it was only 20 so it didn’t take up too much time.
Please, please tell me your favourite writing advice as I would love to know.