Writing Tips

One thing we’ve come to see after years in this business is authors make the same mistakes again and again and again. So here are a few simple writing tips courtesy of the gang here at thEditors.

Begin with a character.

Characters are everything. Your readers won’t care about your plot if they don’t care about your characters.

Don’t ever force a character to do something just because your predetermined plot demands they do it. It has to be something that character would actually do.

Don’t follow trends. Set them.

It’s not about the words you use. It’s about the words you don’t use. Remember, sometimes your eraser produces better prose than your pen!

If in doubt, cut it out.

Keep it simple. Use simple sentences and avoid flowery, wordy prose. A spade is a goddamn spade.

Go easy on descriptive narrative.  Too much description can bring the pace of your story to a standstill.

Avoid passive voice.

If you haven’t read any good books, don’t bother trying to write any.

Sleep with a notebook at your side. Sometimes the best ideas come in your dreams – but you won’t remember them in the morning.

Break out of your comfort zone. It’s only by pushing your limits that you can find them.

Don’t run from criticism. Grow from it.

If you insist on writing a prologue, it better be very good and very relevant.

Telling a good story is often not about how much you write. It’s about how much you cut.

Write what appeals to you, not what is currently fashionable or what you think will sell.

Keep your exclamation points ­under control!!!!

Only bad writers think their writing can’t get any better.

Avoid long, unbroken blocks of text. Paragraphs exist for a reason. Use them.

Go easy on the back-story, and if you must go into it try to work it into some lively dialogue.

Don’t just tell us Jack was tall – show him bumping his head off the lintel.

Write like you’re designing a mini-skirt. It should be long enough to cover what it has to, but short enough to catch the eye.

Kill those adverbs!

Kill those adjectives!

Stop giving your hero the last word in every argument.

Don’t be afraid to use ‘said’. Not ‘pronounced, responded, hedged, mused, quipped, interjected, ejaculated’ or whatever … just ‘SAID’

Does your bad guy really have to be ugly? Does your hero really have to be handsome/beautiful?

Don’t write and edit at the same time. Write it. Leave it. Edit it.

Don’t be afraid of what your mother will think if she reads it.

And finally, it’s ok to break the rules … as long as you know you are breaking them.

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