Writing hints and tips

January 13, 2015

 

I, like all other writers, strive to improve my skills. Here are some tips from experienced writers and editors that I hope will help my writing and I thought I would share them with you.
 

  • The reader needs to be drawn into your story within the first few paragraphs and definitely by the end of the first chapter. Opening scenes that do not capture the reader's attention or imagination may well lose you a sale.

  • Show rather than tell, and by that I mean don't simply say something has happened, relive the scene.Think about it in the same terms as witnessing a fight in your local high street first hand, or being sent a text about it by a friend. Which is going to have the most impact?

  • Don't info dump. Readers do not need to be told everything about your characters at once. Less information is better than too much. Readers prefer getting to know your characters by their actions, and bit by bit, rather than having it all delivered to them in large chunks. 

  • Read your manuscript out loud: this will help with the flow of it, and any awkward sentences, but it mainly serves to focus your attention. You cants skip over words and sentences like you can when you are reading to yourself. You'll spot more mistakes this way and you'll notice if you are using too many long sentences, or too many short ones in a paragraph, and you'll notice if you are repeating words too frequently.

  • Write numbers eg, seventy rather than 70. And don't use eg, say 'for example.' Abbreviations aren't generally a good idea.

  • Some editors don't like some dialogue tags. Readers take no notice of  'said' and 'asked'; the eye skips over them, but they are essential to letting the reader know who is speaking. However, some of the more creative dialogue tags  eg argued, are unnecessary.  Write Divas explains to so much better than I can. http://writedivas.com/ask-the-divas-creative-dialogue-tags/ 

  • Cut 'start to' and 'begin to' from your writing. You may want to say 'it began to rain', but when you think about it, it's either raining or it isn't. It would have more impact if you wrote 'a fat raindrop plopped onto her nose and she wiped it away with a swipe of her hand. More drops quickly followed, and she sighed, and rooted in her bag for an umbrella.' than 'it started to rain.'

  • You don't need to use 'that' as much as you think you do. Try taking it out and see how much smoother your writing is. 

  • Don't repeat yourself: if you have explained something once to the reader, don't keep labouring the point further into your novel. Readers are unlikely to forget and will find it annoying that you feel they would't have got it the first time.

  • You will need fresh eyes to look at your work. You are too close to it to see it objectively. If you think you are some way to be being finished send it to an editor (if you can afford it), who will look at characterisation, plot, the flow of the chapters, and many more things. If you can't afford this (and even if you can) send your manuscript to beta readers who will view it from a reader's point of view and a good one will point out what they like and what they don't like about your work.

  • It needs to be proofread - and NOT by you. You won't see the typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, etc. Believe me - you won't. 

There are probably hundreds more, and if anyone want to add their favourite tip or if there is something important I have missed, then please feel free to comment.

 

Now all I need to do is to use is use this little lot in my own writing!

 

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