I’ve been writing stories since the age of seven, but I’ve only been studying the craft of writing for the last ten years or so. Here’s a few top tips for writers that I’ve learnt, many of which I wish I’d learnt sooner. They would have saved me a lot of time.
Read A LOT – your imagination needs fuel and it’ll get a lot from your real life, but much much more from reading thousands of stories. Yes, thousands. (Here’s a few goodies to start with.)
Plotting’s not for everyone but for me a short overview helps me not go down too many dead ends. You can always change your plot as the story develops.
When thinking about plotting, remember that most stories, even non-fiction ones, are about suspense. The writer’s job is to create a character so real that the reader invests their emotions into him or her. And then to put that character through a whole load of difficult scenarios where the reader can’t help but keep reading to see what’s going to happen to them.
Keep your writing precise not flowery and avoid as many adverbs as you can.
Find the angle – if you’re struggling to find an angle that makes your scene and characters spring into life, starting with dialogue is always a good idea.
Keep learning (a mantra for being alive, really).
Only do it if you love it – except for a very small number of people, there’s no fame in it and you’ll make a lot more money in your standard day job. (Although we can all dream that one day, in the not-too-distant future, our name will be writ large on the street…).
For the definitive advice check out the 10 points of Elmore Leonard (and while you’re there, sign up for the fantastic newsletter of Brain Pickings).
Finally, if you haven’t read it, get this: