Here are some novel writing tips that I shamelessly stole from people on the Internet who are more knowledgeable than I.
Some might consider the following tips to be common sense, but it just so happens that common sense actually isn’t all that common, which is probably why bloggers bludgeon advice-seekers over the head with these tips in practically every “How to Write a Book” post ever.
Without a structure to follow, greenhorns are often quick to hit a roadblock after setting down the path of a writer.
Stefanie Newell, an Atlanta-based writer, author and CEO of Write One Publications, Inc., published a blog post with nine essential tips for writing a book.
In the order that they appear, the tips Newell offers are the following:
- Buy a notebook.
- Create a book outline.
- Edit your outline.
- Write your book.
- Rewrite your book.
- Get someone to read your book.
- Hire a professional editor.
- Choose the self-publishing route or the traditional publishing route.
- Sell your books online.
Save for tips eight and nine, which have more to do with publishing, every tip after the fourth involves some kind of revision.
“Once you get to the last page,” Newell wrote at the end of her explanation for tip four, “you’ll have completed your rough draft.”
Believe it or not, Newell goes on to write, rewriting your book is the main part of the writing process.
“For those who hate rewriting and may be tempted to think that they can still do with the rough draft—the most essential part of writing is rewriting and has no alternatives,” wrote Newell. “So rewrite your book; otherwise, all your previous effort would be a complete waste of time.”
Copy editor Shane Arthur gave his two cents on editing over at boostblogtraffic.com.
“You know your writing heroes? Would you be shocked to learn that their writing is no better than yours?” wrote Arthur. “Sure, the end product is better, but the first draft is just as clumsy, flabby, and downright difficult to read as any of your own writing efforts.”
Transforming your turd of a first draft into a polished product sometimes requires outside help.
“Think of your draft as a rough diamond,” wrote Arthur. “Value is hidden inside it and you need an expert gem cutter to reveal its beauty and clarity.”
Remember tip seven from Newell’s post? It’s the same thing Arthur is suggesting here.
However, you might not have the money nor the desire to hire a professional to point out and fix all of your blunders. This is fine, so long as you learn how to wipe your own ass and edit on your own.
One way you can turn dry writing into moist, powerful prose, wrote Arther, is to favor an active voice over a passive one.
To illustrate, Arthur provided the following passive sentence: “There are some bloggers who seem to have a natural gift when it comes to writing.”
Then, he offered an active and terse alternative with, “Some bloggers seem to be naturally gifted writers.”
In an effort to mimic popular authors who churn out novels thick enough to be used as a weapon, some writers needlessly include as much information as they can in their own novels. This is a mistake likely to work against you unless you’re writing pure gold.
You can avoid this mistake by making necessary cuts as you edit, according to a blog post at wristersend.com.
Using character creation as an example, the post’s author advises writers to resist the temptation to dump every last detail from a character profile on readers at once.
You might think it’s a shame not to use all or most of the research you’ve put so much time and effort into. But it’d be an even bigger shame if you ignored this advice and wrote a book no one’s interested in reading.
“Having done the research is not a reason for including anything,” the post’s author wrote. “It should mean that your writing is well informed and your information is correct.”
Unless you have some interesting characters, readers will have more use for your book as a pillow than a source of entertainment.
Julie Eshbaugh, a fiction writer, offered some tips creating an ensemble cast of characters. Her tips advise writers to give their characters passions and pay attention to the way they talk.
A character’s interests will influence his or her decisions, wrote Eshbaugh, and having a character with a unique speaking style might make them identifiable even without an attribution tag.
The other tips, “let clothing reveal your character” and “name your character with care,” also go a long way in making your characters distinguishable.
“Sometimes the smallest deviation from the norm can make a character distinct and memorable,” wrote Eshbaugh.
If you have a character who dresses sloppily or neatly at all times, you can convey something about him or her through showing rather than telling. Similarly, you can give one of your characters a nickname that fits with his or her personality.