Since I started writing, in autumn of 2016, I have picked up a number of tips from various sources. I am listing them here, partly to put them altogether for my own reference and also to make them available to anyone interested. I wanted to avoid the somewhat inane “just write!” piece of advice. A l t h o u g h, I read Raymond Bradbury recommended writing a short story every week of the year. According to his logic, no one could write 52 bad short stories in a row.
The list will grow, change, over time.
- WordPress is a playground with a great big super bouncy castle in the middle. It is somewhere I come to play, have fun and also to practice some bouncing, pretending I’m a world champion trampolinist.
- Seek out writer’s groups, or start up your own. Attend ‘read out & feedback’ sessions, read out your work to an audience. You’ll feel precious. Criticism will hurt, but no one got killed, accept feedback graciously at all costs. Leave, remembering when it hurts it’s probably hit a spot and means there’s some work left for you to do.
- When the creative mojo is working, write fast, don’t be fastidious, edit later.
- Having different writing projects on the go (in draft) 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 poem, 3) A ‘possible start’ for another short story, and 4) An unfinished short story, I plan to substantially re-work.
- Writing in English (as my first language) I try to avoid use of ‘was’ and ‘that’ outside of dialogue. They ain’t the prettiest of words to decorate the English language and and certainly, even mild ‘over-usage’ just looks wrong! There’s ways to construct sentences without them. This ‘rule’ excludes use in dialogue, within which it may feel natural to include them, cuz that’s how people speak…!
- Research over-used words in your story, find them in your first draft and replace.
- Use strong words to end a sentence, wherever possible.
- Work hard on all aspects of grammar. It is worth investing time into this. Readers are quickly put off by errors.
- Get the tenses correct and consistent. Tricky, when both past and present tenses appear in a story. Carrying out an edit with this being the sole focus, will usually weed out any conflicts.
- Instead of using the word ‘it’, it feels better to name what ‘it’ is, most of the time.
- Change around the length of your sentences within a paragraph.
- Online grammar checks. The one I like best is called Grammark. I like how it is a copy and paste exercise, with no software to download, and open-source.
- Don’t stop writing, don’t take long breaks. Write rubbish and throw it away, but keep writing.