Last March and April my friend Alexa Schnee wrote a series of posts for young writers – here is some more advice from other authors. These are GREAT tips – and not just for young or beginning authors!
- Read everything you can lay your hands on, and then think about why you like some books and not others.
- Keep a diary.
- Observe everyone and everything around you and then try to write about it in a letter.
- Once you’ve learned how to use words, stop the diary and the letters because they’ll take time away from writing.
My best writing suggestion for young writers is … read, read, read and write, write, write. Reading helps your subconscious define what is good and what is inferior. Consciously analyze why a book appealed to you or what was so irritating that it blocked your pleasure while reading. And you must write. You can’t just formulate ideas and never get around to the work of writing. The more you write, the more skilled you will become. Just think of athletes training for the Olympics. They have to practice to get there and so do you!
1. Show, don’t tell.
“Paint” a picture with your words.
2. Use the 6 senses. How did it:
“feel” (emotional feelings)
3. Choose the perfect word.
Not run. Instead: jog, sprint, trot, scurry, hurry, race, hightail
Not walk. Instead: trudge, amble, plod, slink, traipse, sashay, march, pace
Use strong verbs and use adjectives and adverbs sparingly and carefully
4. POV = Point of View.
Whose scene is it?
Only get “inside” one character’s head in each scene.
5. Start in the right place, not necessarily at the beginning.
Where does your character’s world change? That’s usually the best place to start.
Weave in the “backstory” details later.
6. Use speaker attributions (he said, she said) sparingly.
Use “beats” instead. (He scratched his head; She cleared her throat, etc.)
Make replacements for “said” very rare. (Not: exclaimed, retorted, inquired, etc.)
These are ok: asked, shouted, whispered, murmured…
7. No “talking heads.”
Give your characters something to do while they talk.
Be sure that “something” serves more than one purpose
1. Shows something about character’s life (job, family, talent, etc.)
2. Shows something about character’s mood (angry, happy, confused…)
3. Shows something about character’s relationships
8. Read your work aloud (especially dialogue) to hear the poetic rhythm of your story.
Charissa Steyn says
Thanks for compiling all these comments! Such great wisdom! I will keep on practicing:)