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Writing Tips?


Melody

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Hey so anyone have any tips on writing? (I'm an aspiring writer) and there are so many great writers on this forum that are admirable and I would love to learn from. So if anyone would take the time do any of you have some tips on character development? Plot? Wording? Anything you guys got could be helpful :)

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As a lover of creative writing, it's hard for me too give general advice. Tips vary from writer to writer since no writer is the same. I'd have to read something you've written in order to get a feel for your style in order to give constructive criticism. If you want to PM me any draft feel free.

One thing my mom says is "to be a better writer, you have to read books" I never read, I actually hate reading, but I love writing, and people on this site tell me I'm a talented writer--my teacher even tells me. So I don't think reading had anything to do with being a great writer. Sure, I'd just be that much better, but it's not imperative that you become a bookworm to become a writer. You just have to be good at storytelling.

In general I'd say:

1. Don't force anything, meaning if the inspiration isn't there, stop writing, Take a break. Good stories just have a natural flow. If you're sitting for hours trying to come up with plot, it's time to take a break and come back after you've had time to clear your mind.

2. Detail. Every writer and every reader has their own preference. You have to find that happy medium between a beautifully scripted scene and an ongoing panoramic of every little thing the character sees, smells, hears, tastes, etc.

3. Try writing a story without using the word "said." Said is a boring word and it's a sad word considering no one in the world just says anything..everything we say has emotion, meaning, and thought. I found this thing on Pinterest that has over 200 synonyms for "Said" and ever since I have not used the word "said" in my stories. http://lifehackable.com/post/68693933330/234-college-level-synonyms-for-said (If the link doesn't work, let me know I can get it to you a different way). Also try not to use the world WALK. just google synonyms for that.

4. Use a thesaurus, but don't get too crazy. I mainly use it for jazzing up simple words. Happy, sad, beautiful--generic go-to adjectives.

5. For me, creating a background to my characters helps me compose a story because it's easy to incorporate those things into the story. For instance, I think about what kind of job the character has, what kind of house the live in (which determines how much wealthy they are) do the have a spouse, and then I move to physical features, how tall, what color hair, eyes, and skin...etc. You don't ever have to explicitly say any of those details in the story, but if you know who your character is, then readers can infer those facts just by reading the plot.

Hope that helps. I'd love to keep giving advice. Please feel free to PM me with questions. I'm glad you've become interested in writing. It's a great talent to have.

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I don't really feel qualified to post in this topic, since there are many, many amazing (and some published) writers on here, but I'll definitely give you what advice I have.

1. As previously stated, character development is key. It's almost impossible to write about someone you don't know, so it's super important to do a lot of character work. I like to put my characters in AU's or different situations to see how they'll respond as part of my character development work, but the basics are super important, too.tumblr_msgyuhba6q1sr9i3ho1_1280.jpg

^^^ This is a great place to start. It seems simple, but as you go through you'll realize how much you're learning about the character.

2. As Roald Dahl said, sit your butt in the chair and make yourself write. This is my biggest problem-- procrastination-- and the only way to get over it is to sit and to write. Don't let yourself get discouraged. Write whatever comes into your head; you can fix it later. I agree that you should never force it, but if you tell yourself every time you sit down to write that you have no ideas, you won't have any ideas. Sometimes you have to work for it.

3. On that note, reread and rewrite-- a lot. Have others read it and edit it. Edit it yourself. Your first draft will never be your final draft.

4. I don't want to discredit what @flowerpower67 said, but I personally believe you don't always have to use crazy words for 'said' or 'asked' every time a character talks. It becomes distracting. It's important to use good vernacular and to keep your reader's eyes from glossing over, but saying that someone 'lamented' a word instead of just 'said' it can be odd and off-putting. Use your words wisely. There's a place for everything in a story.

5. Enjoy what you're writing. If you hate your characters and hate your outline, start over. There will always be new ideas and new characters. Don't be discouraged if you have to restart a few times.

6. Don't forget about grammar. If you're going to publish something (even on a website), know the difference between there, their, and they're. It gets distracting and people can be pricks about it; don't give them the chance to be wink.png

Have fun venturing into writing, dear. Never be afraid to ask for a beta reader, tons of people here love to help (including me) smile.png

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2. As Roald Dahl said, sit your butt in the chair and make yourself write. This is my biggest problem-- procrastination-- and the only way to get over it is to sit and to write. Don't let yourself get discouraged. Write whatever comes into your head; you can fix it later. I agree that you should never force it, but if you tell yourself every time you sit down to write that you have no ideas, you won't have any ideas. Sometimes you have to work for it.

That's a great point too. My college professor encourages "Shitty First Drafts" meaning you have an idea, but it's pretty blurry and not fully thought out... it doesn't matter. Rant, make bullet points, rant some more. the idea is to get every possible idea onto paper (or one word document) and then go through and pick out the cohesive ones and go with those topics and expand on them.

3. On that note, reread and rewrite-- a lot. Have others read it and edit it. Edit it yourself. Your first draft will never be your final draft.

Yes, take a look at it after a day or a week. Just use fresh eyes. Don't keep rereading after you've been working, you won't catch all the errors and you'll think it wounds good, when down the road you'll think it doesn't. And even reread before you post. You'll find typos and things you want to change. Always happens to me.

6. Don't forget about grammar. If you're going to publish something (even on a website), know the difference between there, their, and they're. It gets distracting and people can be pricks about it; don't give them the chance to be

YES! I will destroy you if you mix up their, there, and they're. And your and you're. Get it right or get out. Sorry. I'm a grammar snob, and I promise I won't destroy you. Just be mindful of it.

4. I don't want to discredit what @flowerpower67 said, but I personally believe you don't always have to use crazy words for 'said' or 'asked' every time a character talks. It becomes distracting. It's important to use good vernacular and to keep your reader's eyes from glossing over, but saying that someone 'lamented' a word instead of just 'said' it can be odd and off-putting. Use your words wisely. There's a place for everything in a story.

And I don't go too far and get a different word every time someone talks. I use the same handful of words off that big list from the link. Like, "reply, mumble, asked, ordered, answered...etc. But knowing all those words are out there instead of "said" it so helpful.

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Try writing a story without using the word "said." Said is a boring word and it's a sad word considering no one in the world just says anything..everything we say has emotion, meaning, and thought. I found this thing on Pinterest that has over 200 synonyms for "Said" and ever since I have not used the word "said" in my stories.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. NO NO NO. NO. High school writing teachers will tell you not to use "said". Meanwhile, actual writers will tell you that "said" is very, very necessary.

"Said" is the perfect word for speech. The reader's eye rolls right off of it. It allows for dialogue to be read more smoothly. Besides, all the emotion of a character's voice should be given either through context clues or through the actual dialogue itself. It's part of the old adage, "Show, don't tell." Don't TELL us how your character is speaking. SHOW it to us through their body language and the way they're talking.

GRANTED, YES, every once in a while it's okay to use an expressive word in place of "said", but it's like candy...candy shouldn't be eaten all the time. Only every so often.

PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD do not use every other word in the entire world except "said". USE "SAID".

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Try writing a story without using the word "said." Said is a boring word and it's a sad word considering no one in the world just says anything..everything we say has emotion, meaning, and thought. I found this thing on Pinterest that has over 200 synonyms for "Said" and ever since I have not used the word "said" in my stories.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. NO NO NO. NO. High school writing teachers will tell you not to use "said". Meanwhile, actual writers will tell you that "said" is very, very necessary.

I agree- check out Elmore Leonard's comment no. 3

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Woah, this stuff is helpful. Great topic idea for a thread.

If you start out with an outline, just a quick little list of what's going to happen in your story before you write it, it sort of helps for when you get stuck.

My opinion on said - it's okay to use, but if you use it too much it gets kind of boring.

This is what I do, correct me if there's stuff I'm wrong about, I'm not that good at writing....

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Follow your favorite authors' blogs if they have any, if not, look for interviews. They will have the best tips.

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"Said" is the perfect word for speech. The reader's eye rolls right off of it. It allows for dialogue to be read more smoothly. Besides, all the emotion of a character's voice should be given either through context clues or through the actual dialogue itself. It's part of the old adage, "Show, don't tell." Don't TELL us how your character is speaking. SHOW it to us through their body language and the way they're talking.

Beautifully put :)

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Try writing a story without using the word "said." Said is a boring word and it's a sad word considering no one in the world just says anything..everything we say has emotion, meaning, and thought. I found this thing on Pinterest that has over 200 synonyms for "Said" and ever since I have not used the word "said" in my stories.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. NO NO NO. NO. High school writing teachers will tell you not to use "said". Meanwhile, actual writers will tell you that "said" is very, very necessary.

I agree- check out Elmore Leonard's comment no. 3

All ten of those rules are just sublime. :D

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(I’m going to preface my comment by saying that everyone writes differently and as long as you write comfortably and something that you would enjoy reading yourself then that should be enough. Following ‘rules’ about writing style that don’t feel comfortable to you is probably not a good thing.)

In regards to 'said': I agree that it is important as a nonintrusive way or reminding the reader who is talking. Using something else like ‘he asked’ is often redundant. Most of the synonyms on the list that was linked to are almost as overused or as dull as ‘said’, so if you’d like to create an impact by replacing using something else I would also avoid almost all of the words on that list unless you use them in a different way

For an example, I like using ‘he lied’ (which is on that list) when there’s no other indication that the character is lying as a good way to subvert the dialogue and do more than just change the volume or tone. ‘He threatened’ reads better than ‘he said menacingly’. However, if the dialogue is something like “I’m gonna gut you with a spoon, bitch!” then neither is necessary, but something like ‘he bluffed’ could be useful. It just depends on what feels good for you and what you're going for.

My general advice, although I feel woefully unqualified to give advice, is to always strive for improvement. I think feedback is the best resource to know what you do well and what you don’t, and constructive criticism (but not blatant flames) should be an opportunity for a give and take between reader and writer. In order for all this to happen though, you need to write and get your writing out there.

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I think it's easy to get into replacing every 'said' in your story because you're being critical of your story. I don't know about you guys, but when I see that I've used the same word fifteen times in a row it gets under my skin a little, and I feel the need to go synonym-hunting.

Most people who read your story probably aren't actually criticizing specific word usage, so replacing 'said' usually isn't necessary. All the same, I enjoy at least pretending that I own a thesaurus, and so I frequently will use other words. I don't know that I can expect other people to be happy with it if I'm not, at any rate. My options at that point are either replace every couple instances of the word, or simply use less dialogue.

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"to be a better writer, you have to read books"

I would have to agree with this. I may be wrong, but from my experience I honestly I *cannot* think of ONE really talented author that I've read who wasn't passionate about books. Artists and musicians don't just view their own pieces. Athletes train with watching their own footage and footage of their competitors. You view not to "copy" (although sometimes creating "in the style of" can provide good exercise), but to expand your range of possibilities. To watch a master craftsman weave ideas in ways that you hadn't thought of. When we engage with reading it broadens our knowledge of the characters (or topic, depending on the book), and it broadens our knowledge of our selves. Other authors are the *ultimate* thesaurus, because not only do you have examples of alternative words, but alternative combinations, and phrasings, and ways to pace the story. It doesn't have to be at a conscious level of noticing while you read, but we soak up knowledge. When we immerse ourselves in the the ocean of well-chosen words, language that is picked to perfection, we drink in that appreciation and phrases and skills seep out when and where we least expect it.

Ok... plus- I pretty much think that reading is "da bomb!" :P

I'll admit that I'm not very keen on randomly pulling out a thesaurus. I can understand doing it sometimes, but... to me words are very nuanced. And thesauruses don't give you the "baggage" (aka connotations) that different words come loaded with. So, if you are picking from among very familiar words (where you can tell the subtleties between the words) it can be very useful. If you pick out a random word (without looking at several examples of how that word is used in context) it can go very badly. Or, where it is incredibly, almost painfully obvious that the writer is using a thesaurus and almost playing "eeney, meeney, miney, moe" (or some type of Mad Libs) with their story. And while, that is perfectly fine for a writing exercise, with a story, to me it can feel awkward. Choose words very intentionally.

I've been told- and I *know* that I need to do this- is to set aside time to write even if it isn't "flowing". I hear different recommendations, but... I've heard that a lot.

Read what you wrote- aloud, it helps to catch more errors and it helps with flow.

Be open to constructive criticism, seek it out. It isn't the most fun, but only when we demand that others give us their true thoughts about our work (given with tact) then we can shift through the comments and find ways that we can tell our story even *better*. Some things you won't change, others you'll tweak, some you'll scrap or totally revise. There are a couple of people that I use for writing, especially when I write non-sf things. And I love that they can 100% say to me, "You know what? That one didn't connect with me." or "I was confused by.... " or "I thought ..... was redundant" or "Did you think of doing ...........?" or other things. Done nicely and with all the respect and love in the world. And I try to take what is helpful and push myself to express those same thoughts in a way that gets across my concepts/ message across in a way that is more accessible..

"author's" note - I have my background in education- however, I am NOT a literature teacher, professor, editor, published author- etc. I'm just a person who passionately loves the power of words. I love to write (as a hobby) and it is something that I hope that I've had growth in over the years, and I am entranced by people who have a way with words- particularly written.

Sorry for the rambling... all the best!

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I'm not a good writter myself.. but when I read stories I like to see...

1. Lots of adjectives !

:) pretty words to embellish your story.

2. I like to see a lot of work put into the plot itself rather than the same uh scenerio over and over. It's compleatly alright to change of location just to keep it fresh, to switch between male or female sneezers(unless it's only aimed to one) , to switch between allergies and colds( again if it is a simply cold fic then don't switch.)

3. Colds- Now colds get get pretty long to read. Much fluff, stuffy noses, symtoms ect. You can also add fever, fainting, vomiting. Whatever. Just keep it interesting

:) Also caretaking is cute. Just don't drag on the same scenerio for too long as the readers may loose interest.

4. Allergies - Go in different locations to where the allergies might get worse/better.

5. Sneeze spellings - Now we all have different ways to spell them . But have a different sneeze spelling for each charecter if few charecters are involved. If one is stifling it's always cute to hear the other one mocking him/her. Just write the spellings how you want. but a simple "Atchoo" with no effort.. Im not sure.. Also put after that how he/she felt. example "He/she sneezed into his/her palm "Ishuu" then groaned because it had hurt".

6. Surroundings- Really paint an image of where they are. When switching locations/rooms be sure to specefy where they are sitting/laying down. ect.

:)

7. Give enuff details so the reader can follow the story without confusion nor doubts.

8. Take your time while writting fics

:) Your readers will understand. Because it takes time to come out with the perfect story and it is worth the wait.

9. have fun !

:) don't stress yourself to much with updating threads. Your readers will be patient and will wait for the result :)

10. Describe the relashinships between your charecters in full detail. We cannot guess wether he/she are brother and sister, lovers or cousins right? . Also if it is an original fic, do describe us the charecters so we comprehend who they are

:)

Best of luck writting fics

:)

Ps : I musn't have been much of a help. but yeh there you go

:)

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Overuse of synonyms is one of the great tragedies and down falls of aspiring writers. Don't say something in more words when you can say it in less. And adjectives should only be used if they add something, if you can tell how someone is saying something without embellishing it, leave it be.

My biggest advice to anyone wanting to improve their writing is to read. Read, read, read. You will learn so much by reading other people's writing. Both what to do and what not to do. Reading gives you a very essential "feel" for literature and what is good, what works and what doesn't.

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I posted a lot in that other thread that was linked to from here. I could quote myself here if you really want me to, but not right now. :P For now I'll comment on what other people have said here.

For the most part, as a reader, I'm more concerned with whether or not I know who said what than I am with how the author indicated it. If they wanted to do this:

Bob: "What the hell are you doing?"

Alice: "None of your goddamn business."

I would be fine with that. Or you could just go with "Said" all the time, though the first quarter of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury really proved to me why that could potentially be a bad idea, too. :P I'd say if you're going to use alternatives to said (though be aware that a lot of writing advice tells you not to use any alternatives to said) at least make sure it's a way of saying something, please. :bleh:

If nothing is coming out, should you sit there and continue to write, or should you do something else? I'm of the camp that says you should do something else. Anytime I try to force it when it's not coming out easily, I always hate the results. Always. If I can't write, I do something else and try again later. Sometimes reading from the book I'm currently reading helps me.

That brings me to the last point for now: Yes, I do advocate reading if you want to write. :P I only read on weekends so obviously I'm not filling the 4-hours a day every day quota, but it's good to read at least some of the time if you want to be a good writer. :)

Maybe I'll post more later on. :P

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http://fychuckpalahn...chuck-palahniuk

This is a great piece laying out the differences between showing and telling and how it makes for a richer story.

After reading this, I actually disagree with most of what was written in there. Let me explain why.

Until some time around Christmas, you can't write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn't like him going out at night.

Instead, you'll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.

You could hold a gun to my head and I'd still rather cut off my own fingers than leave a run-on sentence that absurd in any work of writing that I'm going to put my name on. I had to re-read it twice just to understand what was even being said.

Poor grammar aside, that just seems like an unnecessarily convoluted alternative to the former example.

Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’d roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

This doesn't tell me that Gwen liked him. For all I know, Adam could be Gwen's drug dealer.

Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”

Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.

Present each piece of evidence. For example:

“During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”

Once again, this tells me nothing definitive. Quite to the contrary, school-room teasing often points to affection as opposed to hatred. In this instance, by choosing such a roundabout method of description, the author actually directly contradicts the point he intended to make in the first place.

All in all, I don't like what the blogger is saying with this. If you don't want to use thought verbs, that's fine. However, a book isn't there for the reader to try and guess what you're trying to say with your work. The book is there to tell a story. I like the idea of getting readers to think more about what's happening in the book, but that sure as hell isn't a good way to go about it.

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After reading this, I actually disagree with most of what was written in there. Let me explain why.

I like your opinion and I also agree with it. My creative teacher was a teacher who was blind and really focused on "showing" not "telling" the problem with that is I just don't write that way. I'm all for simplicity in a story and making it complex to a point where I don't even know what the hell I'm talking about it unnecessary. To that, those descriptions were beautiful, but I just don't roll like that. Some writers have that kind of talent with stringing words together. It's all an author's preference.

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So you don't think Gwen's butt prints on Adam's locker mean love? :lol:

I do wonder why Chuck Palahniuk chose such intentionally bad examples to make his point; I guess he wanted to save his good writing for his actual books. :bleh:

In any case (and I posted this in the other thread, too) there is a rebuttal: http://www.lbgale.com/2013/08/03/show-dont-tell-look-sometimes-just-tell-us-ok/#.UuB3uLROnIV :yes:

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I understand what he was trying to do, but it does seem like he chose some terrible examples.

All things in moderation, I guess. Showing as opposed to telling is actually really beautiful when executed properly. However, I don't think you should overdo it. Too much description makes your book long, dry, and boring. Plus, you'll end up needing so many synonyms that you'll have to resort to using words and phrases that haven't seen the light of day since the 1800s.

Moreover, some things simply need to be told. Character opinions, for example, are sometimes just more easily described by telling rather than showing.

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don't stress yourself to much with updating threads.

Haha for some reason I feel like this was directed more at me :P

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don't stress yourself to much with updating threads.

Haha for some reason I feel like this was directed more at me :P

. Perhaps. One cannot write whilst under pressure.
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