My 10 Pieces of Valuable Writing Advice (Part 1)
Whether you are a beginning writer, a new author, or a seasoned professional one thing is true for all of you. There's always more to learn and always ways to improve your writing. I fall into the space between "beginning writer" and "new author" for I have been writing for a long time but have not yet published. Along my own unique journey I have gathered enormous amounts of advice, critique, and inspiration from fellow writers, social media, teachers and mentors, friends, family, the list goes on.
In hopes of helping other writers I am compiling a list of my favorite tidbits. These are things I write by, things I live by.
1. Show Don't Tell
Yes, I know every writer has heard this one, but that doesn't change the fact of how important this concept is. As readers we connect with stories when we are in them using our senses. For example, we can read "Ashley was very happy" and we know she's happy, the end. But if we read instead, "A broad smile took over Ashley's face and her eyes lit up like a 4th of July sky" we can personally see in our mind's eye her happiness plus we eliminate the unnecessary filler word "very." Not only does this engage readers more, but it also helps with your word count if that's something you struggle with.
2. Invest the Money
The old saying "It takes money to make money" isn't misplaced in writing. I know the idea of spending hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on an editor and cover designer is really daunting, especially for a first time author but it's worth it. For my own book cover my tech savvy computer specialist boyfriend is designing a beautiful image. I could watch all the YouTube tutorials, read all the how-to blogs, and tinker with the software for hours and still not come up with a product I'd be as proud of. Having someone who knows the ends and outs of computer programs and possesses a creative eye is invaluable.
This goes for an editor as well. I don't have a free one of those at my disposal so I understand the anxiety surrounding hiring one. Currently I am doing the research to find the best one for me. Some new writers have the misconception thinking an editor only points out misspelled words and grammatical errors. Why spend thousands on something a computer program can do for a small subscription fee? This isn't an accurate definition of an editor. They can not only look at the small line edits but also the manuscript as a whole. They can help with plot holes, character development, POV jumps, etc. Point being, editors are a very valuable resource in helping your finished work be the best it can be!
3. Revising and Cutting
Now that we have discussed the importance of hiring an editor don't just hand them the story you just typed "THE END" on. There's lots of work ahead of you. I'm talking about revising! After finishing the first draft of your book you should put it away. Don't read it, look at it, pick it up, nothing for as long as you can stand. A couple months is ideal but some people can go shorter and still have the same outcome. The purpose is to distance yourself from what you have just written so that you can come to it in a few moths with fresh eyes. This helps you see the mistakes and weak places without being "blinded by love".
Take revising slow. This can take several drafts. Look at your small line edits but also the big problems. When I first start revising I reread the first draft then re-outline my story adding in things I want to change.
One of the hardest parts for me when revising is cutting some scenes, sometimes even whole characters that I've spent time creating. It actually hurts a little but you don't want your readers bogged down on unnecessary pieces that don't help drive the plot. A cool thing you can do with deleted scenes is save them for future blog posts after your book is published and you can write short stories for the characters that didn't make it. Show what the story looks like through their bystander eyes!
4. Pain and Pleasure
Somewhere I read that the best writing comes from pain. While I will believe that strong emotions can inspire great writing I don't believe it always has to stem from the negative. Happiness, pleasure, pride, inspired. These are all positive emotions that can be a turbo boost in your writing. Emotions are something we all have in common. Something we can connect to. Keep a pen and paper with you at all times and when something makes you really feel something, capture it. Write it down for the rest of us to feel with you.
5. Don't Stop Reading
All your life you've been reading books and now you're well on your way to writing one yourself, but this does not mean you stop reading. Not just because you shouldn't give up the pleasure of reading but also because it can greatly help improve your writing. Maybe you like a technique a certain author used or you're unsure how long a chapter should be. Reading helps you learn how a story should be structured and how it should flow.
Aside from reading published books, another great tip is to read other writer's work. Being a beta reader or working in a small writing group allows you to read unpolished drafts. Critiquing others' work helps you to see the flaws in your own more clearly. It also helps you connect with other writers for when your own book needs critiqued!
This is only tips 1-5! Next week I will have 6-10 and you don't want to miss it so subscribe and stay tuned!