Writing Tips

Here are some writing tips that have helped me. Perhaps they will encourage you. Take what you want and throw out the rest.

For revising:

· Some say to read your story out loud, and while I agree with them, sometimes my mind will read a word I think is there, but is not. These can be words that are spelled similar to the word wanted, but have an entirely different meaning. I found that after I read the story out loud, then I use a software program to read my story to me. The computer/software will not change any of the words so it’s easier to spot an incorrect word that I might have missed before.

· Read the story again. But this time, read the last sentence on the last page. Then read the one above it, and the one above that, and so on. This way it allows each sentence to be the focus rather than the paragraph or the story itself. Often when I read my writing, I get caught up in the story and unable to focus on revising. Then I must start over. This practice of reading each sentence out of sequence can also help when editing/reading another writer’s work that the attention is on editing.

· After the above, I will print out the entire story, but space the lines either single or 1.5 (this is to avoid printing on so much paper). If you have the ability to print on both sides of the paper, even better. Then I read the story again. Something about it being on paper when re-reading works even better than the computer screen-at least for me anyway.

For character development:

· Take a fun quiz (or several) as your character. I recommend personality tests and ‘what zodiac sign should you be?’ Even if you don’t believe in astrology, it’s a fun way to learn a list of potential character traits. It can just give you some ideas, but doesn’t need to be taken too seriously or etched in stone. Often the descriptions are fairly vague so they could apply to numerous people. However, it might open up a character’s quirk that you might not have been aware of before. For example, let’s say the test comes back as Aquarius. You read the description and it mentions free thinker, aloof, and masculine & feminine tendencies. So you can use this to let’s say make your heroine a lover of knife throwing. Maybe weave that into your story. Perhaps she thinks outside of the box and you weren’t sure why, now you have a reason. Finally, maybe the hero sees her as indifferent, but then can learn that it’s only because she’s used to ridicule from family and friends because of her beliefs, or etc.

· Do an interview with your character. Close your eyes and imaging you are a reporter. Your character is sitting across from you (or wherever feels appropriate). See them clearly. What are they wearing? How are they sitting? Do they look happy, amused, angry? Ask them whatever questions come to mind and wait for them to answer. There are lists of character interview questions online. Some of my favorites that have helped me are: What motivates you? Why are you doing this (or not doing this)? What do you fear? What do you love? What is a secret only you know? What was your favorite thing as a child? What’s your favorite food? What irritates you?

· When re-reading your story, find something that a character does-or better says. For example maybe your heroine always talks in complete sentences. However your hero talks in fragments. Of course this wouldn’t be 100% of the time for either, but if you find you’ve switched these idiosyncrasies, then change as many as necessary. Don’t get too repetitive. Let’s say your heroine almost always says ‘only’. Ok, so when revising you leave most of these intact when it fits the sentence. Then you notice your hero says ‘only’ way too often. Hmmm. Maybe he could drop the only or he says merely or some other word. Or rework the sentence so he doesn’t need a different word. These are subtle things and be careful not to overdue them too much. Change it up some. You don’t want an editor coming back to you saying your character always jerks on their coat for example.

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