Top Tips For New Writers

Top Tips For New Writers, Guest post by Cecilia Randell

When I first started writing, I searched, and researched, articles on writing.  I went to my local library and I scoured the half-price used book stores.  I joined groups and looked at what they had to say.  A lot of it has been very useful.  Some of it has not been.  Many of them said the same things.

But there were a few things I noticed weren’t really touched upon, or at least not with the emphasis I felt they deserved.  So, I wanted to share with you some observations I have found extremely useful since I began writing.  Admittedly, that was not all that long ago.  Hell, I would still call myself a newbie.

Top Tips For New Writers, Guest post by Cecilia Randell
So, here are my top tips, from one newbie to another: 

-        Learn how to use a dictionary and keep one within reach:

A majority of us know what a dictionary is, right?  Well, I don’t often see them emphasized enough, at least in my estimation.  There’s a lot of talk about prose, of using more descriptive words but NOT using adverbs, of showing and not telling. 

This means enlarging your vocabulary.  Well, how do you do that?  Some will say read.  And this is true.  But reading alone doesn’t do a thing for the number of words you have at your fingertips.  You have to know how to use those words, and that is where the dictionary comes in.  Many people will glean a definition or two for a word based on context.  Sometimes they are right.  Most words, though, have many more than one or two definitions.  Some have twenty or even thirty. 

And what about when you go to a thesaurus to help you think of another word to use?  Do you know what all of those mean?  Pull out your dictionary. 

I think I own five, plus the ones on line. 

-        Process is… quite a process to learn:

You’ll see these terms thrown out there.  Pantser.  Plotter.  Plantser.  Character sheets, snowflake method, and many more.  These are all just terms to describe ways to work.  That’s all they are.  Not one is better than the other.  You’ll find that one thing which works for another writer won’t work for you.  Don’t be afraid to try different things until you find that blend of methods which allows the words to flow.

Personally, I’m not any of these.  I refer to myself as a carouser.  Meaning, I will just create and write and plot and pants until I have the story down.  I bounce between world building, character building and spontaneous ideas.  I will write in order, then skip to a scene three books down the road, because I just suddenly know that’s where I’m going with the story.  And sometimes, I’ll get there and throw the whole thing out, because it’s not quite right anymore.

Just know this:  There is no one right way to write.  There are grammar rules and style rules and “never do”s and “always do”s – more on that in a bit – but how you get there is up to you.  Everyone is a proponent of what works for them.  Keep this in mind, pay attention to what works for you, and then build off of that.

-        Don’t be afraid to ask why:
This is probably my favorite. 
Stuck on a plot point?  Ask yourself why?  Where did the story go off?
Character does something you didn’t plan? Why?  Maybe that’s an opportunity to add another dimension to their personality.
World building?  Here is where you just go to town with the why.  And the what.  Just keep asking yourself, until suddenly before you is a whole world. 
You have an idea for a zombie-werewolf hybrid who falls in love with a pixie.  Why?  What is the world they are in that there is a zombie-werewolf hybrid.  Why is it the way it is? 
Just keep asking yourself why.  It will lead to how, then to what and back to why.  Until you have your setting and story.  It’s also a great way to weed out anything that goes beyond the readers ability to suspend disbelief, even in a tale of a  zombie-werewolf hybrid that falls for a pixie.

-        Don’t be afraid of crazy ideas:
On another note, don’t be afraid of crazy, zany, no-one would read that ideas.  Those are sometimes the best.  Just don’t forget to ask yourself “why?”

-         Sketch it out:
Having trouble envisioning things?  Sketch them out.  Maps, fight scenes, neighborhoods, character dynamics and relationships, power hierarchies.  Charts and diagrams and sketches, oh my.  It probably seems logical to you, it did to me, but I got talking one day with another author who was getting stuck on writing scenes with a lot of action in them, and I said, “Are you sketching it out?”
She hadn’t been.  Hadn’t even thought of it.  She went off and sketched the whole thing out, and went merrily on her way to finish the book.

-        Know the rules before you break them:
This one I have seen mentioned.  It’s one of my favorites. 
Let’s remember something.  Writing is an art.  A highly technical art, but an art nonetheless.  It is not a science.  Yes, there are “rules”. But these rules (and there are too many for me to try to list, and, hell, I don’t even know all of them yet) are not really rules, but more guidelines.  They became rules because, in 90% of cases, they WORK.  But sometimes your scene, or story, or prose, works better if you break them.
The key is to knowing WHY they work, and why breaking the rule in a particular instance works better.  I’m not there yet.  Working toward it every day.  And when I get there, I will have finally graduated from newbie to master. 
I just hope it doesn’t take me decades.  But I’ll have fun getting there.

There you have it!  Top tips from one newbie to another.  I hope they help you in your quest for telling the best tale you can…

Top Tips For New Writers, Guest post by Cecilia Randell
Cecilia Randell is the pseudonym for a lady author that has not quite worked up the courage to give you all her real name. She loves a good story, and often finds herself thinking “what if…”, so decided to put some of her ‘what ifs’ down in words for others to, hopefully, enjoy.

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Top Tips For New Writers, Guest post by Cecilia Randell


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