Sunday, January 24, 2010

5 quick writing tips

So this guy sends an email, asking me for writing advice. Says he’s looking for a “good older writer” to make his stuff better.


Anyway, I’m honored he thinks I’m a good writer, and I’m thankful he offered his compliments. But instead of responding to him directly, I’m quickly posting a few tips.

1. Write everyday. Doesn’t matter what you write – stories, poems, whatever. Just write.

2. Read everyday. Yes, it does matter what you read. Read the kind of stuff you want to write. Want to write novels? Read lots of novels. Want to write poetry? Read lots of poetry.

3. Join a writers group. SCBWI is a good one if you're writing for kids. If you’re in Texas, The Writer’s League of Texas is another. But there are others. In these groups, you’ll find lots of writers like yourself who are asking the same questions, and lots and lots of published writers who can answer them.

4. Take a writing course. Now if you’re like me, you don’t have time and can’t afford one. But that’s no excuse. There’s lots of online resources that can teach you about correct grammar, punctuation and general writing tips. Where do you think I learned to write bad metaphors.

5. Um, write some more. Practice makes perfect. Revise (throw it away, start over).

Of course there’s more, at least there is when you get more into storytelling. Voice. Point of view. Tense. Story and character arc. Rising and falling action. Similes . . . on and on and on and on. Just enough stuff to make you want to tear your hair out. But that will come later. For now, simply write. And have fun!

And please forgive my typos and spelling and grammar, because I'm learning, too.

Specific advice to the guy who wrote the letter to me: Spell it out. “R U happy 4 me?” is a great way to express yourself in a text message. But probably a bad habit to lose early on, though keep in mind, all rules are made to be broken.


Peggy Archer said...

Great advice, Don. Thanks for sharing it with everyone here. I agree--SCBWI is the best. And they are everywhere. Check out My best to you!

Suzanne said...

Good tips, Don.

I'd add one more - revise, revise, revise!

It's often said that good writing is good rewriting. And that's VERY true. Yet, many beginning writers aren't good at self-editing or revision. They need to learn all the tips they can for this!

Happy writing!