- Have an schedule/use a diary. I find this tip helps to keep me focused on what I need to get done for that day, and not allow other things to distract me.
- Read books that fit in the genre you write. Note how they write about their characters, how the characters and plot progresses, how descriptive they are with the different aspects of the story.
- Write, write, and write. The only way to really improve your writing is to constantly write a range of different things. Like any other skill or job, it takes time and practice to become a good writer. The more you write, the easier it will be to
discover what works best for you.
- Take constructive criticism on board. Constructive criticism from reviewers and other readers is incredibly useful to know what people like, and how to improve on things you might have missed. However, don’t get discouraged by criticism, nor don’t allow it to completely change how you write, or what you write. As not everyone will like what you write, then there will be others that do.
- Keep a notebook handy. Ideas may crop up in random times of the day (or night), having a notebook handy to quickly jot down ideas prevents you forgetting about an idea. Also, if you suddenly get an idea at night, it can keep you up, as you might worry that you will forget. Additionally, ideas can be combined together and inspire more ideas to flow.
- Research, write, research, and write. This is the stage when you are actually intending to flesh out a novel, instead of just writing to improve your skill. Researching before, during and even after the first draft is not only useful for getting more ideas, but it makes it easier to remember things when you are writing,
so you are as accurate as possible. I find the best way to prevent writer’s block is to have plenty of research to work from. That way you can pick and choose what you find necessary to include, and helps you come up with a wealth of ideas.
- Snowflake Method. This is my favorite, and in my opinion most useful tips for authors. And not just ones that are starting out, I still have used this for my second, third and fourth novel. In my opinion, a good novel needs a detailed plot outline. You can just sit down and write; however, if you haven’t created an outline, the structure may be all over the place.
And you might waste time trying to think up what you want to write each day for the chapters. Events may not be cohesively linked. Using the Snowflake method can help to arrange all your thoughts and ideas. And in word excel, it makes it easier to rearrange chapters, and add to them, without having to do that after you have done all the writing.
Also, the chapter outline basically helps to schedule in what you need to focus on each day, by using the section under chapter headings to write a few sentences on what you want the chapters to include.
You will of course probably add to the chapter outline, remove other things etc. However, this just gives a great starting point. And it means you can even add what research you have collected so it fits into the story better.
- Edit, revise, feedback. Another incredibly important part of the writing process is editing. After writing the first draft, a writer ideally should go over the novel several times.
The second draft is to make sure things flow together, remove unnecessary detail, change things you don’t quite like etc.
The third draft you should be quite picky. This is the more tedious part of writing, as you need to focus on the punctuation and spelling.
The fourth draft is basically going over anything you might have missed, or want to change. Yes, this might sound monotonous; however, I feel it is necessary to ensure you have the best piece of writing as possible.
Having another set of eyes can also be helpful. Getting someone else to read over it so they can pick up on things you might have missed. Additionally, they can give you feedback on what they did and didn’t like, so you have a bit of an idea if you need to change things.
- Short, powerful sentences. This might need to be done in the editing, as usually in the first draft all these ideas are flowing, so you don’t want to bog your brain down with other things you can fix during editing.
Using shorter sentences creates interest, and helps keep the plot moving faster. Using an ‘active voice’ and strong verbs livens up the dialogue, helping the reader feel more connected to what is being said or done.
A great tip is looking for the ‘by’ phrase when changing from passive to active voice. When a sentence contains ‘by’ – ‘the interview was conducted by the team’, that usually indicates that it is a passive voice. Changing the sentence to something like ‘the team conducted the interview’, helps to create a better picture for the reader, helping them feel that they are there with the characters.
- Be conversational with dialogue. Keep in mind when you are writing think about how you and others talk. We don’t always follow the proper rules of grammar. So when writing dialogue, imagine how you think your characters would talk.
What are your characters like? How do you want to portray your characters?
Dialogue is essential for the readers to get to know your characters (and for you to get to know your characters as well). The way they speak also helps them stand apart from the other characters.
It may even be useful to listen to how others talk, and interweave that into the character’s dialogue.
Using proper grammar is important, so shouldn’t be ignored. However, you do want readers to be able to relate to your characters. Giving them a unique voice will help make them more relatable.
Here are some links I find to be useful when writing:
- Snowflake Method – https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/
- Active vs. Passive Voice – https://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/CCS_activevoice.html
- Strong Verbs – https://www.enchantingmarketing.com/strong-verbs/