I’m a writing tip junkie. Any tweet or blog post or random comment that begins, “Here’s the best tip I’ve ever gotten about writing…” makes me click. What’s thirty seconds when I could pick up a gold nugget that changes my writerly life?
Mostly, 1) I already know them, 2) they’re pedestrian, or 3) they’re wrong, but occasionally I get one–or twenty-seven in this case–that I think are worth passing on. See if you agree:
- Unless required for voice-related purposes, avoid using “needless to say” or “utilize” or “awesome tits” in your writing. (Women: Fill in the blank: “Awesome _____.”)
- Be tech savvy and have a good liberal arts background [to succeed as a writer].
- The whole process of writing a novel is having this great, beautiful idea and then spoiling it.
- “The writer is only free when he can tell the reader to go jump in the lake…”
- Stop calling yourself an ‘aspiring author’.
- Aspiring is dead.
- Back talent with arrogance.
- Writing what you know IS writing who you don’t know.
- Her plot is as slow as a tortoise on Valium. Don’t make your plot as slow as a tortoise on Valium (you’d have to know that cable TV commercial to get this one).
- Don’t let ANY AGENT set you up for a high-five and then trip you.
- I’ve known agents who wouldn’t know a good book if it took them to the World Series.
- If I was trying to get there [the climax], I wouldn’t start from here.
- Ironing out the plot problems would take an industrial laundry a month.
- In romance novels, plot is important. Characters are more important.
- You either have to write or you shouldn’t be writing. That’s all. (I forget who said that–someone famous)
- …don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.
- As long as you produce pages, your writing method is the best.
- Write your heart out.
- Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader–or any reader. He/ she might exist–but is reading someone else. (I think this is Joyce Carol Oates)
- The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written.
- Use active voice whenever possible.
- Cut the boring parts. ~Elmore Leonard
- Speed through your climax like an Indie car. (if you write thrillers)
- Write without pay until somebody offers to pay. ~Mark Twain
- Following what works will only get you so far.
- Don’t use coffee mug slogans for your story themes.
What are your favorite tips?
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a weekly columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.