Sunday, April 30, 2017

Quick Writing Advice from Twitter

The other night I got inspired to tweet some writing advice tips. I thought I'd expand on those a little here.

Do unto other writers the good you wish they would do unto you. Even when no one is watching. Help each other after published too.

This goes beyond retweeting for each other and congratulations at their successes. You can also be moral support when someone is having a tough time. Enter your fellow writer's giveaways. Most writers are also readers. Consider purchasing their books if they interest you and leaving reviews. Give back by doing critiques or joining contests as judges and mentors. Do all the good you can for each other.

If your first chapter doesn't accomplish mutiple goals and foreshadow, rewrite it until it does. #writingtips Foreshadow can be added after.

First chapters have to be big workhorses. You need them to accomplish several goals: character introduction and development, plot introduction or foreshadowing, world building, establishing conflict, and so on. It should also create some way for the reader to connect with the opening of the story maybe by making the reader curious about what comes next or through building sympathy with the characters. Foreshadowing can be added after the first draft is done and edited in. 

By foreshadowing I mean things like showing your MC is afraid of heights and then having that fear be a part of the finale chapters. Or in Grudging, the characters play a trick on the enemy in the first chapter and the ending revolves around another sort of trick. But your foreshadowing can be as simple as hinting at the conflict/antagonist that hasn't been revealed yet.  

Description can show the setting. Even better if it also shows something about your character's personality or sets the mood. #writingtips

When describing the setting try and make sure the words create the proper mood in the reader. A huge bonus is if you can use something from the setting to help show parts of your character's personality or their emotions. This can be done with actions or with introspective. 

Vary your sentence length and structure unless you want to put your reader to sleep. #writingtips

This can take practice but make sure to vary the length of your sentences--some long, more medium, and short--and incorporate various sentence structures in each paragraph. If all the sentences syntax is similar, it creates a singsong rhythm in your reader's head and becomes really boring. Watch out and avoid it.

Celebrate small successes when querying or you won't get through the rejection. #writingtips Don't second guess yourself.

My family used to get ice cream at the Dairy Queen down the street whenever I got a full or partial request back when I was querying. I helped get me through all the rejection. We did somewhat the same when I had books out on submission. Rejection can be crushing to the spirit, so treat yourself when you have a positive accomplishment.

Don't waste time with thinking "oh I should have done this" or "I should have done that." Whatever it was is done. Spend your energy on deciding how to proceed in the now.

Avoid a mushy middle section by always have goals for each chapter to accomplish. #writingtips

This works for me and I hope it will for you. Have an established goal in mind when writing each chapter in the middle sections of your manuscript. Have each scene advance the plot, or advance the understanding of the characters, or advance the conflict, or advance the world building information for example. Even better if you do several of these in the same scene.

Check how much character introspective or reflection there is in your favorite books. Probably more than you expect. #writingtips

You're likely to be surprised at how much character thought/introspection or reflection there is in each page, let alone each chapter. Your character needs to think about themselves, other characters, the situation, their feelings and a huge variety of subjects. This helps draw the reader closer to the character, builds a relationship between reader and character. I think a lot of more beginning writers try to limit this use of inner thought because they think it's telling. Sometimes it is. And you have to learn when it's needed and when it's too much. That comes with practice. But you can learn a lot about when to use it from your favorite books.

Trust your writing instinct. If you have writers block, there's probably something wrong with the direction of your story. #writingtips

This is another one that is often true for me. Whenever I get stuck in my writing, it's usually because the story is headed in the wrong direction. It isn't necessarily always a big problem that needs fixed; sometimes it can just be the trend of one conversation being slightly off. Just be aware of what your instincts are telling you.

If you feel like the story is too flat, it may be time to add more conflict. If you feel readers will be bored than you are likely right. Perhaps you have some chapters that aren't achieving any goals and could be cut. 

This can be true when you're querying also. Listen to your inner voice because it could be leading you in the right direction.

Don't expect your first writings to be masterpieces. There is a learning curve to everything and writing has rules just like any other job.

Writing is a profession, and with any profession there is a learning curve. There are rules to writing and techniques and skill involved. It will take more than one or two manuscripts to learn them all or to become skilled at using them. Be patient with yourself and just be aware that you will probably grow as a writer. It's an acquired skill and we are all learning.

This is true about writing query letters and synopsis also. They get better over time.

Best way to become a better writer is to read a lot of books in your genre. #writingtips #amwriting

My favorite advice. Read. Read in your genre. You'll pick up so much. Timing, pacing, the amounts of description, introspective and characterization to add. When to throw in a twist. When to change the direction of the story. The list of things to notice in successful books is never ending. 

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