Honing your writer's technique is a lifelong task. No matter how good you become, you'll find
that there will always be occasions when you read someone else's work and think: Wow, I wish I
could write like that! or even (somewhat gloomily) Why am I even bothering? I might as well give
Slowly but surely, you'll be able to build your skills... and the day will come when you'll find that you're
better than most.
Here are scores of articles from successful writers to help you along the way. Enjoy!
- Does Your Fight Scene Pack a Punch
When you're writing a 'fight' scene for your novel, it's essential to remember you're a writer, not a choreographer. To be a knockout with your readers, make sure you pack your fight scenes with EMOTIONAL punch.
- Do You Need to Use Italics?
Before you hit "CRTL+I" in your word processor and add yet more italics to your scene... stop and think. Do you really need them? What effect does the over-use of italics have on your reader?
- Using Italics to Show Thoughts
It's all too easy to fall into the trap of using italics every time you want to show your character's thoughts... but stop and consider alternatives. Long or too-frequent blocks of italics can really, really annoy your reader!
- The Power of Punctuation
Most writers use punctuation without a second thought: it's just part of the mechanics. Savvy writers know that it's worth experimenting with different ways of punctuating their work to help the reader see and 'hear' a scene exactly as they do.
- Make Your Readers Cry
You really know that you've tugged at a reader's heartstrings when you catch someone crying over your character's fate. But how do you achieve that? How do you make readers care so much that they end up in tears?
- How to Write to a Word Count
"If I'd had time," so the saying goes, "I'd have written a longer letter." Writers know only too well how difficult it can be to trim a story or article to meet a required word count. Or the reverse... to expand a story to suit an editor's needs. These 5 tips on "pruning" a story and 3 tips on adding words will help to make your task easier.
- Conflict - Keep Readers Turning Pages
Are you being too kind to your characters - and putting your readers to sleep? Conflict is the engine of your story - make sure you have it revving in high gear.
- 5 Ways to Break the Story Spell
You know how it is: you're reading, thoroughly absorbed in a novel, and suddenly... something jars. Ouch! The author has done something to break the story spell, and you're back in the real world. If you want to make sure you don't do the same thing to your readers, read on...
- Writing Technique - The Restaurant Syndrome
Are you guilty of continually making your characters meet in restaurants or over coffee - and describing each bite or swallow ad nauseum? Don't bore your readers... make every word (and description) count.
- The Magic of Layout in Your Story
Your reader can interpret a piece of writing in many ways. By thinking carefully about your LAYOUT (white space, paragraph structure and sentence structure) you can influence the way the reader "sees" your scene.
- Take Your Novel to the Next Level
If you can write a scene a day, you can finish a novel in a year. Easily. So why does it take many of us years to complete our first book? I propose there are four elements you can look for right now, today, that can help you write a better novel the first time or the twentieth time.
- Inoculate Against the ING Disease
There's a very common error that gives away an inexperienced writer every time: the practice of starting too many sentences with a word ending in "ING". This leads to a secondary problem - monotonous sentence structure that soon has the reader's eyes glazing over.
- Don't Distance the Reader
Let's investigate the whole issue of 'distance' - particularly in regard to viewpoint slips, but with a nod to how you use your character's name, too.
- Emotional Punch - One Vital Tip
It's very likely that at some stage, you've poured everything you have into writing an emotional scene - only to feel your heart sink when you read it through, because you realise that it simply isn't working. Why? What's the problem?
- How to Bore Your Readers
If you're searching for sure-fire ways to bore your readers here are six guaranteed methods. Use any three and wherever you are in the world, you're sure to be able to hear the "thump" as your book is thrown at the wall...
- Smooth Beginnings
Beginnings are difficult. Beginnings, in fact, are probably the most re-written part of a manuscript. A lot of writers plunge into a novel knowing perfectly well that they'll come back and rewrite their first chapter when they've finished their novel. Why do they do this?
- 10 Problems with Story Endings
We've all been there. We've read a book engages us all the way through... until we get to the end. Unbelievably, the author has let us down. Let's examine 10 causes of 'reader deflation' at the end of a book...
- Are You Info-Dumping?
"Info-dumping" is one of those things that can really get up a reader's nose! You know the kind of thing: one minute you're happily getting immersed in a story - the next you're rudely reminded that you're 'just reading' because the author has gone into lecture mode about something.
- The Opening Hook and the Follow Up
When I read a first chapter, I'm hoping to become involved from the very first sentence, or at least by the end of the first page. Sometimes that does happen; particularly when the writer is entering a competition designed for that purpose! All too often, though, the writer fails to involve me. Here are some problems I have noticed.
- Go With the Flow
Cast your mind back to those early schoolroom lessons in writing. The basic advice was probably this: "Every piece of writing has a beginning, middle, and an end." Your job as a writer is to let readers know what is going on in the beginning, to fill in all the details in the middle, and then wrap it up satisfactorily at the end. It's a simple plan - and effective. Unfortunately, many writers seem to lose the plot (literally!) once they start to write.
- What Can Your Reader SEE?
Here's a tip: when you're editing your book, spend some time going through it simply imagining what the reader will be 'seeing' for each scene you write. You might find that doing this for even half a dozen scenes will give you a whole new way of looking at your book. You may realise, with a sense of shock, that your character is doing entirely too much thinking and not enough acting.
- Beginnings and Endings
The first page is arguably the most important in the mss. If the editor isn't impressed he won't read on. Your opening page, half page, or better still, opening paragraph must hook him. The last page is less important as publication doesn't depend on it, but it must provide the reader with a sense of completion...
- Why Setting can Make or Break Your Story
If you don't truly understand the relevance of your setting, then you're not going to do it justice in your book. And if the READER can't see the relevance of what you've written, they're not going to spend time on it. (That breeze you can feel has been created by the reader flipping through the pages to find something more interesting to read.) Relevance means that the setting is so integral to your story that it can't be extracted without affecting the whole flow and meaning of the story.
- 6 Quick Tips on Technique
Here are six quick tips on technique. You'll find that they barely scratch the surface - they're more 'flags' to tell you what you need to look for. Every one of them should lead you to hundreds of articles telling you exactly how to achieve the effect you want in your work in progress. When you check your work against the list below, be honest about the need to brush up on any areas of weakness.
- Tips on Writing Humour
Why is it that some authors manage to have readers laughing out loud, while others couldn't write humour if their lives depended on it? Why is humour so hard to pull off? Just how do you make people laugh?
- What Authors Can Learn from Jack Reacher's Gravel Rash
In THE AFFAIR, Jack Reacher's inflicting gravel rash upon himself helped his character solve a crime - but it also showed writers how to write a believable scene.
- Getting Out of the Reader's Way
From years of being a reader yourself, you should already have a good sense of what prevents total immersion in a story. Here is a list of the most common mistakes writers make...