- Guest Post by Lee Evans
Experienced writers can provide insight into how to improve writing skills. These 10 tips for becoming a better writer have worked for some of the most famous authors of our day. Writers have their own style and work methods, but one or more of these writing tips may help increase the quality of a writer’s work.
1. Be aware of the pace of the story. A slow story that drifts in many irrelevant directions or crawls when it could run is likely to bore the reader. James Patterson says that he imagines he is telling the story to someone sitting across from him and he doesn’t want the person to get up until it’s finished.
2. Always be reading. Stephen King says that there are two things that a writer must do: read a lot and write a lot. Writers may have a favorite author to read before they start writing for the day. I find that Ray Bradbury is my favorite to read before writing. When I taste the descriptions and unique phrases that he used, I am inspired to create rather than regurgitate the cliché.
3. Find your flow. Authors often have a routine that they follow before writing. The routine may be indulging in a rich food, watching a video clip, reading an excerpt from a book, or experiencing a particular smell. The eighteenth century poet, Friedrich von Schiller, kept rotten apples in his desk, because he said the smell inspired his writing. Courting the muse is a highly personal process. Every writer must find what practice works best for them.
4. Test your dialogue. Often, writers have difficulty creating dialogue that sounds natural. Steinbeck suggested that writers should read their dialogue aloud as it is being written so that it has the sound of speech.
5. Be passionate about your subject. The art of writing needs passion to breathe and reflect the writers’ souls or it falls flat. If the writer doesn’t care about the work, why should the reader?
6. Keep writing. There is no such thing as failing to be a writer. Ray Bradbury said it like this, “You fail only if you stop writing.” Writers grow and develop their skills. Bad writing means the writer needs to change something and learn from mistakes. There’s no reason to quit writing.
7. Use the appropriate tools. Microsoft Word is excellent for writing. The spell check is a godsend even for experienced writers. However, some writers find that they prefer to write on a typewriter or with a pencil and paper first. Poets often find it best to write in pen before sitting down to the computer. Writers need to consider the pros and cons of different writing instruments and decide which tools are most helpful for them.
8. Show. Don’t tell. As common as that piece of writing advice is, the words are worth repeating. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on the broken glass,” said Anton Checkhov, a Russian author and playwright of the late nineteenth century.
9. Find encouragement. Writing can be a lonely, never-ending process. When you get fan mail from a reader, hold onto it. Read it when you become discouraged. Sidney Sheldon said, “The part of my writing I find the most rewarding is when people write to me or speak to me in public to tell me how his or her life has been changed by my books.” If you don’t have anything in print yet, consider sharing some work on the Internet to have that kind of feedback available.
10. Find what works for you. G. K. Chesterton, English poet and writer, said, “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” A writer can get stuck in a trap of researching how to write rather than actually writing. Many writers impose boundaries on themselves and their writing based on what they’ve been told by others. If you’re not going to find your own voice and your own methods, the writing is going to be a mere imitation.