Are any of you writers? I’m working on a novel at the moment (as well as a few shorter stories), and I thought I’d put up some tips for those of you who want to write too! Share your writing tips and habits, because I need help with my writing as well…
1. Compare yourself to other writers. Write a list of all your favourite authors or books, then all your least favourite. Then, write why you liked or disliked them. That helps you think properly about the kind of stuff you want to write. For example, what makes Harry Potter so great? I like how it all the little clues link together, so I’ve planned out my plot so I can do the same. What makes Twilight so bad? What introduction drew you in the most? If you’re struggling with this, browse other blogs or Goodreads and see what people have said in their reviews. Lists make everything better!
2. Stay away from the stereotypes. The best examples are vampires, damsels in distress and hot guys. No one wants to read yet another book with the guy who everyone falls for (Edward, Daemon). No one wants another girl who can do nothing for herself that falls in love with this too-perfect guy (Bella) or even the girl that’s strong just because she does things that men usually do (Katniss, Tris). I know you’re sitting there thinking of certain books too, right? If you’re re-reading and see anything that looks remotely similar to something you’ve read before, get rid of it!
3. Make your characters believable. I do this by doing loads of character-planning first. Write a list (more lists, yay!) about everything you know about them. What’s their favourite colour? What are their hobbies? Who is their best friend? If this is coming to you, invent a new character to take their place. Once you’ve done that, step into their shoes, even if they’re not your narrator. Write a diary entry, or a day in their life, or a conversation between them and their best friend, then them and a complete stranger. The easiest way to know if your characters are believable is if these things are easy to do. You should know them so well they could walk into your room and you’d be able to say hi.
4. Set a routine. I type at my computer, or I write in my chair under my window. Nowhere else in my house, ever. That way, as soon as I get to one of those places, my fingers are instantly itching to start writing. Don’t do anything else in your writing spot, and your brain will always link it to writing. Then, pick a time. This is the bit I’m worst at. Maybe you catch a train or a bus to and from work or school. So,bring a notebook and make that your writing time. Maybe you have a lot of homework on a Thursday most weeks – so pick a time that doesn’t clash with that! Give yourself more time on a Friday to make up for it. Set a 10 minute timer, then write whatever comes into your head. Get up, have a 5 minute break. Come back and write for another 10 minutes. Do it again and again until you feel like you’ve accomplished something good. Then the next day, do it all over again!
5. Edit, edit, edit! Nothing is ever perfect the first time round! Every sentence and every conversation should have a purpose. If it’s there just to fill space, take it out. If your big climax takes too long to get to, take out or shorten all the stuff in the middle. If your characters are talking just for the sake of talking, get rid of it! If you’re writing, grab a red pen and scribble through stuff. If you’re typing, just cancel it all away. I know, it feels like you’re sending away your kids, but trust me, you’ll appreciate it once it’s a best-seller! Once you’ve done that, go through and add some more. As much as a dragged out book is boring, a rushed one can be just as bad. These things take time, just not too much time. If you’re not sure how much is enough, read it one night before you go to bed. If you feel yourself falling asleep, or the book sitting on the shelf is more enticing, there’s something wrong. Then, get a friend to do the same. Make sure it’s an honest friend though!
6. Most importantly, don’t give up. I know, there are those days when you just want to curl up in a little ball and cry, because it’s just. Too. Hard. But hey, what if J.K Rowling had said that? We wouldn’t have Harry, and she wouldn’t have her billions! Giving yourself a rest for a few days is okay, or writing something other than that looooong novel you just can’t think about right now, but keep coming back to it.