To get more writing tips, ask questions, and post advice, go to the Writer’s Hangout.
#1 Read – Read everything you can, especially stories or books that are similar to what you are writing. If you like fantasy, read fantasy. I believe reading lets me absorb the beauty and rhythm of good writing, not copy it, and makes my own writing better. (Some writers don’t think this is a good idea because they are afraid the other writing will taint their own. If you feel the same way, don’t read. But if you find that reading similar books sparks your creativity, as it does for me, go for it!)
#2 Write – Writing is like anything else–you’ve got to practice. Set up a schedule that works for you. Some will say write every day, some will say write so many pages a day. No one formula works for everyone. Find your own.
#3 Revise – This is my favorite part–revising over and over until it’s right. Rarely is it great the first time out. Rework it. Don’t just change a few words or move sentences around. Every scene should either advance the plot or reveal character, preferably both. I’ve thrown out entire chapters and even started a book completely over, pulling in scenes I’d written before later on. It’s hard to give up something you love–great dialogue or a funny description–but if it isn’t working for the story, you’ve got to say bye-bye to it.
#4 Get Feedback – Join a writer’s group, take a writing class, or ask other writers to look at your work and give you honest feedback. You should be asking them questions like: Are the characters believable? Interesting or unique? Do they speak and act true to their character? Where were you confused? Amused? Cheering? Crying? Bored? These questions will help identify weaknesses in your story. They should also tell you where the story and characters are working so you know what you’re doing right and can learn from that. (See my Writing FAQs for Giving Good Feedback.)
Check out my critique group, our books, and the fabulous Whiney Writer videos!
#5 Don’t Be Afraid to Write Poorly – That’s what revision is for. Just get your story down on paper. Try to get all the way to the end. If you’re one of those that has to “fix as you go,” try not to do so much that you can’t make it to the end. Remember, you can make the story rock later. (I confess to being a Fix-as-You-Goer and I try really hard to go forward, making notes about something I think of, rather than going back and losing my momentum).
For more writing tips, ask questions, and post advice, go to the Writer’s Hangout!