“The Way I Write”: This is the last journal assignment for class, and I remember Ms. Gaines saying that we could do either three to five, or ten to twelve writing tips. Since this is the last journal, I have decided that I will shoot for ten to twelve. Note, that these are not actually tips I am saying you should follow. Most of them are personal preferences and as the title says, it is more the way I write than anything else.
Don’t Force Yourself to Write
Now, this is probably very controversial, but allow me to clarify. This does not give you the excuse to not write because you don’t feel like it. However it does not mean you should force yourself to stick to a strict schedule of writing. Write when you feel like it, and then you’ll find it flows.
Pen point: I normally do my assignments on Monday, but in this one I’m especially inspired.
Sometimes a Story Needs a Break
I bet you know the feeling when you’re writing a novel, and you just come to a point you can’t seem to get past. It’s not like writer’s block, since you know what you want to write, but you just can’t seem to put it down. This is when your story needs a break. Just shelve it for now, and allow your brain to cool down. But never stop brainstorming. Keep coming up with cool ideas as you leave it on the shelf, then when you feel you’re ready, open it back up and let the writing flow.
Pen point: I’ve shelved a novel for over half a year before finishing it.
Different Stories Need Different Styles
Sometimes a story needs you to know exactly what is going to happen throughout the whole thing. Sometimes a story only needs you to know what you’re writing as you write it. These lend for different feels to a story, and can both work successfully. And sometimes, a story needs you to switch between those two styles.
Pen point: The novel that I shelved for half a year was initially written using the second style, but after the shelving, I came back and finished it with the first style.
Music Helps; Silence Helps
Sometimes writing with silence is really helpful, and sometimes writing while listening to music is really helpful. Silence helps when you are describing or writing about a peaceful scene. It is always best to match your own surroundings to what you are describing, and songs always help. Make sure though, that unless you’re like me, and are capable of diverting your attention, that the songs are wordless, or you will be continually distracted.
Pen point: When I am writing some of the fight scenes in my stories, I have a series of action electronic tracks that I listen to, and when I write some of the more sentimental stuff, peaceful classical really helps.
Use Letter Size Paper When Writing
Now, if you’re anything like me, then length is an important matter. Having a good length means that you have expounded on the subject enough and did not leave out any important details. I initially wrote on paper that was 8.5 by 5.5 inches; half the size of letter paper. However, with paper like that, my paragraphs tend to be shorter.
When I write, I have a mental image of what a paragraph should look like; at least three or four lines. This then causes me to write more in a paragraph when I write on letter size paper, since more words fit in a line. In turn, I then tend to write with more description, and my stories grow in length as well. Also, it is a nice surprise when I then copy my writing from the letter size paper into my default 8.5 by 5.5 inches storybook paper, as the number of pages frequently doubles, and that is pretty essential for me.
Pen point: The longest chapter for a novel that I have written is 28 8.5 by 5.5 pages.
Read a Ton, and When You Have Read a Ton, Read Another Ton ad infinitum
I cannot emphasize how important reading is. If I was to give only one tip on writing a good story. I would say read read read. It is the most essential thing, since when you read, you absorb both subconsciously and consciously the formatting, the punctuation, and the words. It helps so much with punctuation. Also, reading is a great pastime, and a wonderful source of inspiration.
Pen point: Every single story I have written or am writing is based at least slightly on at least one book I have read, and the majority of my punctuation comes from reading.
Getting feedback on your writing is almost as essential as reading. You really want to have some like minded writers who can give you constructive criticism to read your stories and give you their opinion. Make sure you take their opinions and tips with an open mind, and lower your pride if you want to gain anything from it.
Pen point: This is the reason I enjoy my blog so much. I get such great feedback from you guys!
Have an Appreciative Audience
After you have written something, show it to people who will be able to appreciate the effort you put into it, and who enjoy a good story. So many times have I felt down and disappointed when just a simple comment of thanks, or enjoyment, or even of wanting more, has lifted my day out of the dumps completely.
Pen point: My cousin is a constant source of encouragement for me, as are all of you who read my stories. Thank you all so much! 🙂
Read Your Stories Aloud
Sadly, this is a thing I am slowly ceasing to do, but it is so important! It will definitely help you with your proofreading. Reading your story one time aloud is worth reading it two times in silence. It is true, because when you read in silence, you read what you expect to see, and tend to skip over parts by accident, especially those that are written incorrectly. However, when you read aloud, you have to read the whole thing, and then your mistakes really show.
Pen point: I started by reading my stories aloud to my siblings and correcting them as I went. Then when I got a mac, I used its text to speech feature. However, since the software update, it will only read text by transferring it to an audio file and playing it on iTunes, so I don’t do that anymore.
Ask Yourself “What If?”
This is from an article my dear mum sent me on a way to overcome writing block, and I’ve tried it, and it worked beautifully. I encountered writing block just the other day, and asked myself, well, “What if I wrote a poem on writing block?” And it has turned out to be one of the best things I ever did. This can work with stories. For example “What if the main character…?” It really works!
Pen point: The “What if?” question was also used by me when I asked myself “What if I write a sequel to my Writing Block poem?”
Be Descriptive But Let Your Descriptions Flow
Description is essential. And describing properly, even more so. Description should spark the reader’s interest and draw them into the story rather than laying everything flat out before them. It should get them thinking about what they are reading. That is a deep book. But, make sure that the descriptions flow with the story. Weaving descriptions amongst other things such as dialogue helps millions. It makes it feel more like it should be there.
Pen point: Descriptions is probably the point with which I have most difficulty.
There’s a Time When a Cut is Required
Sometimes it is better to write less than more. Knowing the perfect point to cut off and leave the reader in suspense is a skill to be treasured, and I am working on sharpening it. You want to leave the reader begging for more, making them want to know what is going to happen next. This is when cutting something off is extremely useful.
Pen point: I used this with my installations of the novel Nightmare. Every post I leave the reader hanging (I think) and I am constantly trying to decide what to tell and what not tell yet.