Beginners Writing Tips – As Tried and Tested by Me.

 

Blank paper with pen and coffee cup on wood table

Currently I am still slogging my way through my first draft. It’s hard, but I’m getting there. Meanwhile, I’m reading any article that promises to give me the best advice on being an aspiring author. There is so much conflicting advice out there that I thought I would comprise a list of these top tips and my experience in implementing them. I have comprised a list of tips that were repeated across multiple platforms or that really stood out to me. Hopefully, this will shed some light regarding the supposed “crème de le crème” of writing advice.

Don’t think about success or failure, just write. – All amateur authors think about what success will be like. This definition of success will vary from writer to writer. Some will want publication, others recognition from peers. Whatever an author wants to achieve with their writing the most important thing thy can do is just write. I sadly admit that I too have fallen victim to the ongoing daydreaming sessions where I picture all the success my writing will acquire or equally how failure will ruin me. Then I look down and see an empty page and I realise that I have been doing nothing for the past fifteen minutes. So, although its tempting to sit and think about all the possible things that could happen should you attempt to write anything, please don’t be scared. Just write one-word at a  time and think only about that and your story.  Leave the ambition and worry until you have finished writing.

Don’t be too wordy – I am a serial offender of doing this. Equally, I know people who also underwrite and don’t use enough words. The advice is that after writing something, you should go through and think about if each word is necessary for the sentence/story to make sense. If it doesn’t, then cut it. Otherwise leave it in. Simple.

Over use of Exposition – This is one of my biggest pet peeves and possibly the single worst thing any writer can do. There is nothing worse than a writer over explaining an idea instead of leaving it to the readers imagination. I am not saying I have never done this when writing as I most certainly have. The important thing is to spot when you are doing this and take it out. Have faith in your own ability to convey the underlying message without shoving it in the readers face. If you are struggling to know where you are guilty of over exposition, ask a trusted friend to read it over and see what they think.

Read Everything – I disagree with this slightly in that you don’t need to read everything. I think you need to have read a mix of fiction and non-fiction but I don’t think you should read things for the sake of reading them. I am not ashamed to say that I have never read War and Peace nor that I ever intend to do so  because this is not a book I am interested in. Despite it being a classic that people say you have to read I think you should mainly read what you enjoy. If a certain book is not for you then don’t feel as though you have to plough through simply because it’s the book of the century or whatever. The same goes for writing as well. Write about what you want to write about, not what you think will impress others.

Write it for yourself – Again, this is a writing tip that I very much agree with. Don’t write what you think will sell or what other would like to read. Write a book that you want to read. The chances are that if you want to read it, others will too.

Write what you know – Ok, so this is one tip I very much disagree with. I think that it is boring to write about what you know. This being said, if you are a very interesting person who has lead a very interesting life or you just want to share your story with the world then go for it. It can also be fun to take something you do know, like going to school and adding elements that you have not experience such as goblins and meld them together. Personally, what makes writing fun for me is exploring new worlds and ideas that I haven’t encountered before in my day to day life. I read books as a form of escapism. The same goes for writing. When I write I want the possibility’s to be limited only by my imagination. Although I may base some things on what I know, most of it comes from the fantasy world inside my head. So, if you want to write about a goblin school or people with super powers, then go for it. Don’t be scared to write about the unknown.

Enjoy what you do – This is something I very much agree with. If you don’t like and enjoy writing then, obviously, you shouldn’t be doing it. When I write about something, it is because I am passionate and interested in the theme and message contained within it. It’s often a topic or character trait I am trying to work through or figure out for myself. However, I don’t think this means it needs to be easy. You can enjoy writing whilst still finding it hard. Also, to all the people out there who don’t write because they become paralysed with the fear that everything thy write will be bad, it won’t be. I have seen people write utter drivel and then transformed it into something beautiful. Next time you find yourself pulling your hair out over your writing, take a break and write something else more fun in the meantime.

I found most f these tips very helpful, and these are just the most common ones. There is loads of advice out these for beginner writers that anyone can utilise to make their writing better.

If you can think of other common writing tips for beginners that you have tried out let me know what they are in the comments. Below is also a list of websites that I used to find these tips in order to work out what the most common advice was.

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/10-tips-for-beginning-writers/#

https://selfpublishingadvice.org/writing-tips-for-beginners/

https://projectlifemastery.com/writing-tips-for-beginners/

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/may/13/so-you-want-to-be-a-writer-colum-mccanns-tips-for-young-novelists

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Also, to anyone else still writing their first draft like me – you got this! Keep writing and remember to try and have fun with it. 😊

A Step by Step guide to Planning your Writing.

“The best time for planning a book is while you are doing the dishes.” – Agatha Christie.

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So, you want to write something. Perhaps it’s a novel or a short story. Regardless of what it is, writing it can sometimes seem overwhelming. This is why planning is key. It can keep you focused and help you grow your idea.

I am currently half way through my first draft and I don’t think I would have made it this far without planning. Planning has really helped me clarify my idea for my novel and made writing my first draft so much easier.

Here is my step by step guide for planning out your story or novel before you start writing.

  • The Idea

This is the core of your story, which is what it is so important. What is it that you want to write about? Jot down any ideas that you have and pick out your favourites. Think about what type of novel you want to write. Is there a genre you want to explore? It there a current or topical issue you want to write about? Decide what you want to write about and form the basic idea for your story.

  • The Pitch

Now that you have your idea you need to condense it. Write a maximum of four sentences which explains what your story is about. In this explain the concept and what happens. This will hep clarify your idea. Sometimes when you have a really great idea it can get lost as your plot gets more complicated. By condensing it to 4 sentences you can clarify what story you want to tell.

 

  • Characters

Now that you have your plot you will need to develop your characters. Often when characters seem flat and unrealistic in writing it is because they have not been fully thought out. To avoid this, do a mind map of your character. Write their name in the centre and then list their character traits around the edge. Sometimes it can also help to place them in a normal situation, such as ordering a coffee, to get a sense of how they behave. When you do this make sure you write out some dialogue scenes. Writing out their dialogue and how they speak before starting to write will also help give you characters a clear voice and keep them consistent throughout your writing.

 

  • World Building and Research.

This step is really important. If you want to convince your reader to get list in the world you are creating you need to have a clear idea of what that world is. If you are creating a fantasy world you need to work out what it looks like, what the people are like, draw maps ect. This will take you some time but it will be well worth it. If the setting of your story is more similar to real life than a fiction world you will need to so research on what you are talking about. For example, if for one scene your characters visit Scotland you will need to do some research into the area so that when you come to description, it sounds convincingly realistic. Research will extend to the plot as well as the setting. For example, if you are writing about an illness that a character has, make sure you know and understand the illness well enough to get it right. Research can be very boring and tedious when all you want to do is write, however if you skip this step your writing will seem flat and not thought out.

 

  • Scene by Scene

Before I start to write I like to plan exactly what is going to happen in each scene of my story. This helps me get a clear idea in my head of what I want to happen. It is also a really good tool for keeping writers block away as instead of sitting at my computer trying to think of what to write next I can look at my plan and use it as a guide. Although I like to do a really detailed scene by scene some people prefer to do a really broad plan that isn’t as detailed as planning instead. Nonetheless whether you do a detailed scene by scene or not, I would recommend that you do a bit of planning just to keep you on track.

Remember though, just because you made this plan at the start doesn’t mean you can’t re-do it later if you want your story to take a different course. If half way through writing, you believe that the plot or characters want to take you in a different direction then listen to them and adjust your plan.

 

  • Start writing

After all this planning you are now ready to start your first draft. Remember to have fun while you write and don’t get to hung up on writing a perfect first draft. Remember ‘Don’t get it right, get it written.’

 

How do you plan your novels and short stories? Do you even plan at all? Let me know in the comment below.

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