You’ve probably seen by now how authors and editors manage to fill entire books with tips. Here are a few other tips that can help you improve your writing.
- Research does more than add authenticity—it often opens the door to subplots and additional scenes.
- News events that occurred during the time period of your manuscript can also add depth and realism to your story. Maybe John Lenon’s death didn’t affect you dramatically, but if your character is a rock ‘n roll musician or a Beatle fanatic, mentioning his death and the character’s response would add depth. See the dMarie Time Capsule for events by the day or week, or Year By Year for events by the year.
- Internal dialogue (or thoughts) does not necessarily need to be in quotes or italics. Since you must be in the viewpoint of the character in order to be privy to his thoughts, it isn’t necessary to say, “he thought” or set off the internal dialogue in any other way. Just maintain tense and point of view (such as third person, past tense). Example: “I don’t want to go there,” John thought is better written John didn’t want to go there.
- Read everything you write aloud. Especially dialogue.
- Keep pen and paper with you at all times. You never know when inspiration will hit or when you’ll be stuck in traffic.
- Make a scene feel “complete” by ending it with dialogue (internal or external) or action by your viewpoint character.
- Keep paragraphs, sentences and parts of sentences in chronological order. Otherwise, your reader must re-read, which destroys pacing.
- Write sentences in the positive form (avoid double negatives).
- Vary the length and structure of your sentences. Don’t start every sentence with a proper noun or pronoun. (John watched the Arrivals screen for news. He hoped her flight wouldn’t be late. He wanted to see her. He had missed her way too much.) Instead, try to start each sentence in a paragraph with a different part of speech. (John watched the Arrivals screen for news. Surely, her flight wouldn’t be late. And she would be there soon. He had missed her. Way too much.) If you find yourself stuck in the “he/she” beginning for each sentence, decide to start each sentence with a different letter of the alphabet. It will take some creativity, but hey, that’s why you write, right?
- Focus is what gives your story cohesiveness. You must be able to describe your story in one sentence. Yes. One sentence. Forcing this focus gives you a home base to return to and reflect from, and ensures that you don’t drift too much in other directions.
- The purpose of fiction—whether short story, novel or children’s literature—is to take the reader away from his life and expose him to a new experience. Hopefully, the reader learns from the experience of the characters, and, at best, the reader views his own life in a new way.
- The only way to finish a novel is to put pen to paper (or fingers to keypad) and do it.
- Don’t allow your logical brain to stifle your creativity. Get words on paper first, then edit.
- The best advice Inspiration for Writers can give you is to keep writing!
For additional tips, worksheets, and discussions, order your own copy of the The Plain English Writer’s Workbook.
All rights reserved. You may reproduce this article for educational purposes like writing workshops as long you distribute our copyright notice and our URL (www.InspirationForWriters.com) with each page.
For use in conferences, websites, blogs or other uses not mentioned here, please contact us.