Simple Writing Advice You Should Never Forget | pretending to know what I am doing again

Hello everyone!

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….

INFJ: How I Write – The Book Addict's Guide to MBTI:

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Writing Tips

(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.

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(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.

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(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)

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(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.

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(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.

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(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)

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(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.

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Motivational

(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. 

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(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.

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(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. 

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(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??

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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.

45 thoughts on “Simple Writing Advice You Should Never Forget | pretending to know what I am doing again

  1. Another wonderful post. You’ve definitely put a lot of thought, effort and research into your writing πŸ’•
    I think the said rule works both ways tbh. If you’re obsessively trying not to use it then it can come out reading a bit like a thesaurus but at the same time if you overuse it, it does grate on the reader. (I almost threw a review book across the room because it said ‘said’ about a dozen times on one double page). And I definitely agree about varying long and short. If people use the same sentence structure continuously, especially with short sentences, it doesn’t end up reading like fiction, instead it sounds like a list.
    And yes you should definitely write for yourself πŸ’• you can’t try to create something for everyone else as it’s impossible, like you said, to please everyone. Plus it’ll just push you to lose your passion and motivation.
    Yes I definitely agree that there isn’t one path to becoming a writer either. Every author has a different backstory and I don’t think you have to have a lot of English degrees to be a great writer.
    I can only really think of three bits of advice. 1) Vary your sentence starters. If you make every one of them begin with the characters name or he/she it reads like a list of actions not a story. 2) Leave it a while before reading things back through. I’ve noticed that when you go to check your own writing for mistakes immediately after finishing it you end up missing them as you automatically read it in the correct way. 3) Even Harry Potter got rejected. It’s got to be one of the most popular books of all time so the people making these decisions can definitely be wrong and a rejection isn’t the end of the world (even though I imagine it would definitely feel like it).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Charlotte !! And thank you for saying that. I spend too much time on Pinterest when I should be writing !! πŸ™ˆbut at least it is kind of productive πŸ˜‚
      That’s true actually it does work both ways. The goldilocks effect, you need it just right !! Wow yeah that is too much, getting your dialogue pacing is important !!
      I agree sentence structure can so effect how the writing comes across and even the emotion of the writing so it is important to know what to use and when. You don’t want it sounding like a list !!
      I think it is really important as sometimes you can get lost in trying to get everything for everyone so remembering why you started this story and what you want it to be is so important !! It will make you lose your passion if you do anything else I agree !!
      Yesss thank you “every author has a different backstory” so important !!

      Oohhh I have never thought of varying sentence starter but that is great advice as it can help it feel like a story.
      Yesss leaving it a while can make you notice so many more things. And I make a lot of mistakes tbh so it’s important !!
      So true about rejection. It is hard but hearing stories like this can motivate you and remind you to keep going !!
      Thanks for sharing all your wonderful advice !! πŸ’›

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never used it but I’ll have to try it out sometime. Although tbh it’ll probably distract me a lot too πŸ˜‚
        Ooh that’s a good way of putting it.
        Yeah definitely. Especially for the emotion like you’ve said.
        And then it will just end up lacking the emotion that you mentioned before. And without that passion it very likely won’t stand out. Plus by trying to please everyone surely it would be full of contradictions.

        Ooh I’m glad to have came up with a suggestion then ☺️
        And I’m sure everybody makes mistakes. Its odd how you automatically read it how it should be it you reread your work too soon.
        That fact just always surprises me too tbh. Like how on earth was HP turned down?
        And I’m glad you found it useful πŸ’•

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes it can be very addictive, you’ve been warned !! πŸ˜‚
          ahha thank you !! It can really effect it all !! Exactly, you have to put a bit of yourself in to get the best out of your writing so passion is important. Yeah, you really can’t please everyone in terms of taste!!

          yes thank you !! πŸ™‚
          I know it is peculiar!! Brains are weird things πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
          I know, it is crazy to think now. You can’t imagine it !!
          Yes thank you so much !! πŸ’ž

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Cue more hours of me getting distracted πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
            That’s so true!! And that should keep you inspired to carry in as well. And it’s impossible.
            Yep they are πŸ˜‚
            I know!! I bet whoever turned it down is kicking themselves.

            Liked by 1 person

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