Archive for the ‘Writing Advice’ Category

Writing Street Smarts

14 Dec

Dark Trail
I’m going to start with a common, but, I think, often overlooked piece of advice for new writers, and finish this post off with my own personal number 1 piece of advice for new writers.

So, to start, the common advice for writers: ‘Read, Read, Read.’

We’ve all heard it before, but I don’t think I really understood. I always thought it was trite and of little practical use. Not because I don’t believe in the power of reading, but rather because I already read, all the time. I wanted to write because I loved reading first, so what was the point of being told to do what I already did plenty of?

Lately though, I’ve had conversations that make me rethink ‘Read, Read, Read.’

I’ve been talking to a number of early stage writers, people just getting started and trying to get their first books written or published. More often than not, the conversations end up revolving around peoples insecurity with the rules, forms, and techniques of writing. “The correct use of tense”, “The proper use of flashbacks”,”How to create tension”, etc.

These conversations have reminded me of similar talks I heard while attending University, with people who spent hour after hour memorizing information and techniques from textbooks. These people loved testing each others knowledge but never really learned how to actually apply the information.  They could soliloquize about their chosen fields through to the wee hours of morning, but often couldn’t figure their way out of a paper bag if their lives depended on it.

Through my years in corporate we would silently roll our eyes each time a fresh MBA was hired. They would walk through the door expecting the world because of their higher learning, only to flounder through their first projects – school book learning is simply no substitute for real-world learning. I’ll come back to this below, but suffice it to say, this observation taught me more about life than any actual course I took while earning my own degree. I learned to identify and ‘hang out’ with people who were not only learning something, but understood why they wanted to learn it, and spent time trying to figure out what it all meant in the big picture.

So let’s talk about writing again.

Another viewIf you stayed in school for an MFA, you should know all about things like the proper use of tense or how to ‘express coordinate ideas in similar form’, and you will have the ability to wax poetically on the subject or help others see where they went wrong. You will be able to TEACH the subject of writing.

For everyone else it’s more important to focus on developing a SENSE for good writing, than to know the proper terminology, and the best way to accomplish this is to ‘Read Read Read’. Not textbooks, or books on how to write, but reading books, novels. If you enjoy reading, and read regularly, you will know almost everything you will ever need to know about writing.

Let’s call this idea: ‘Writing Street Smarts’ vs. ‘Writing Book Smarts’.

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Writers Advice

06 Dec

Advice Dog on Writing #1
Welcome to a new column here at Prefect Writing: Writing Advice, for Writers Who Write, by Other Writers… who, ah, Also, er, Write… um… Maybe I should simplify that a bit eh? Let’s call it Writers Advice.

I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned it or not, but I’m a Gemini. Growing up, my mother was really into the whole New Age scene and my house was full of associated books, and crystals, and tarot cards and other esoteric paraphernalia. I grew up on the outside of this culture, never quite buying in to the same level as my mother, but enough to be influenced by it in a significant way and when I discovered the fantasy genre everything kind of fell into place in a way that made sense in my head.

I grew up living and breathing that ‘stuff’, and wear the term ‘Gemini’ like a comfortable old coat. Now-a-days, of course, I laugh at star-signs while in polite company, and don’t think about it very often, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake it completely – I’m a Gemini and that MEANS something to me.

What? Well, a lot of things really, but probably the most significant, and the only impact that I typically reference being a Gemini for, is this:


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Top 10 Tips For New Writers

06 Jul

This ‘Top 10 Tuesday’ list goes all the way to 11!

So you want to be a writer? Where do you start? Where we all do… at the beginning.

  1. Decide to be a writer. Tell people you are a writer (you don’t have to be published to BE a writer!) This is the most important tip for new writers! Saying you WANT to be a writer just doesn’t cut it. Tell the world you ARE a writer.
  2. Read, Read, Read. Whether it’s a book, newspaper, blog post, flyer, or the back of a box of Cheerios, do not pass up an opportunity to read.
  3. Write, Write, Write. It may be for work or pleasure, character details or a shopping wish list but, as per tip #1, never pass up an opportunity to write something down.
  4. Keep a notebook with you at all times and write the smallest creative thoughts into it. Write something daily. It may be an interesting character name, some funny dialog you overheard in the elevator, an idea trigger, or a longer plot snippet; whatever it is, make sure you take the time to write it down.
  5. Pay attention to the stories that people share with you, jot them down, and analyze them from different angles – ‘Stories’ could be anything; from their experiences, from media, from the news – it doesn’t matter, the goal is to better understand what it is that catches someone’s attention and engages them enough to share the underlying idea
  6. If you ever get stuck for something to write – read some more; start with your own notebook once in a while!
  7. Find a fan. Your fan could be your wife, boyfriend, son, mother, or best friend. Find people who are interested in reading your writing and share as often as possible
  8. Listen to feedback and try to learn something from the review – even if it’s poor! Don’t be disappointed if your fans don’t like your latest turn of phrase or character or plot idea. As with any profession, or hobby where you air your inner thoughts out for public consumption, you are going to need to develop a thick skin and open ears!
  9. Find role models. Whether bloggers or authors or your college English professor – find writers to admire and study their work
  10. Believe in your talent, or embrace your curiosity to learn, experiment and try new things!
  11. Write some more. Remember tip 2 – never pass up an opportunity to write!

What do you think of this list? This is your opportunity to leave a comment!

(And thanks for reading)