Since I started writing, roughly from around autumn 2016, I have picked up a number of tips from various sources – tips that have worked for me. Partly as a way to put them altogether for my own reference and also to make them available to anyone interested, I am listing the tips here. This list will grow, over time.

  1. WordPress is a playground with a great big trampoline in the middle. It is somewhere I come to have fun and also to practice.
  2. I usually begin writing in the early hours of the morning. Coming back from work at the end of the day, I find it difficult to write. Too much has been rattling around in my head all day, unless something experienced during the day becomes an inspiration for a new story. Edit: Some days, a morning session can stretch into the evening, if it’s going well.
  3. I don’t get over fussy about style and grammar in the initial stages of a story, instead letting the ideas flow freely and returning the next day with an editor’s eye to knock it into shape.
  4. I’ve noticed having a few different writing projects on the go while focused on one piece, avoids the feeling of a ‘crash’, when a current project is complete. At the original time of writing this tip, I have a 1) short story about ready to post, 2) An unfinished short free-verse, 3) A ‘possible start’ for another short story, and 4) An unfinished short story, I plan to substantially re-work.
  5. I try to avoid use, whenever possible, of ‘was’ and ‘that’ outside of dialogue. They seem like ugly sounding words to me and certainly ‘over-use’ just looks wrong. I believe there are better and more satisfying ways of saying something without their use. This ‘rule’ excludes dialogue, in which it may feel natural to include them.
  6. I work hard at being very sure of my use of capitalisation.
  7. I look out for over-repeated words and replace by seeking synonyms via an online search engine. If I have a feeling of over use in respect of a particular word, I use the ‘find’ function to check text, rather than attempting to comb through several thousand words – and miss them, during an edit read-through.
  8. I try and get the tenses right (correct and consistent). This can be tricky, when both past and present tenses appear in a story. Carrying out an edit with this being the focus, will usually weed out any conflicts.
  9. I edit as I go along, for each session of writing. I go back to the beginning each time – but then I am writing short stories, I’d guess with a novel, I might re-read from the beginning of a chapter.
  10. Instead of using the word ‘it’, it feels better to name what ‘it’ is, most of the time.
  11. I try to cut down the words in a sentence where I can, during editing. Often, I find this gives clarity, feels tighter and is easier to read.
  12. I keep adverbs to a minimum. They are useful, if lightly sprinkled. However, I try and convey the emphasis primarily through the structure of the events and within context.
  13. I edit many times over. I edit during silent read-throughs, but for final edits, I always read aloud. A printed copy helps, but can be tiresome, if you’re still needing to make significant amendments. If you have a friend who is prepared to do a read-through, this is very useful – not just for edits, but also for general feedback on the quality of the story and readability. I’ve recently used a text-to-speech web page to ‘read out loud’ stories I’m writing. There are several available online, of varying quality.
  14. Dropping a line when a new speaker speaks, yes. But sometimes I find it looks good to do so even if with the same speaker, where there’s been a certain amount of descriptive breaking away, following on from the dialogue of the same speaker.
  15. Simple, but essential, I spell check. For some readers, a misspelled (or is it misspelt?) word detracts from the credibility of a story.
  16. I avoid passive voice, unless in dialogue – and even then, only if it is a character trait of the person speaking.
  17. I use one word, where one word will do, better than two, or three.
  18. I steer clear of purple prose, resisting self-indulgence and risking boredom in the reader.
  19. Hitting shift then return, eliminates the line space gap, when writing in WordPress (and most document programmes – I’ve recently learnt. You may well know this and realisation has come to me late..!).
  20. Online grammar checks, the best I have found is the first one listed on a well-known search engine, if you type “open source grammar check”. I find if I type “free” anything, I am directed to free trial programmes. Open source, IS free. I have learnt a lot from the grammar check programme I use – liking it because it is a copy and paste exercise, with nothing to download.