Free Writing Tips #1 – Beginning, middle or end?
I was recently asked whether I spent more time on the start of the story, the middle or the end. I had to admit I really squirm over the start. The whole story has to be good of course or there will be nothing, but the start of your story has to be more than good. The start has to be brilliant. The start has to hook the reader.
On the very morning my last manuscript was to be handed over to the publisher, I changed the whole of the first three pages even though they’d already been rewritten several times – panic stuff, I’ll tell you.
Free Writing Tips #2 – The end is justified.
The end is also difficult to get right. You should leave your readers wanting to pick up more of your stories. They have to feel the end is justified. Whether or not they LIKE it has nothing to do with it, it has to be the right end, it has to be justified, there has to be a sense of satisfaction.
Free Writing Tips #3 – How to start the book
How would I advise new writers to start? My answer – begin writing. Simply kick your story in. It WON’T be correct I assure you. Even established writers have trouble with the start of their stories. You might as well accept it’s going to be rubbish and get it out of the way. Get some words down because after that the story will hopefully begin to flow.
Free Writing Tips #4 – Get rid of that start.
Once you’ve finished your book, when you read through your story, be brave and immediately DELETE the first few paragraphs, maybe even the first few pages. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
I can hear you screaming – all those words down the drain, all that work – why do such a crazy thing?
The reason for deleting, is most writers have an inner need to explain all sorts of detail in those first few paragraphs. Believe me, this is NAFF. That detail should not be there. Drizzle it in over the next few chapters, don’t tell them at the beginning.
Deleting those paragraphs or pages will give your work a much sharper edge. Your story will dive straight in and be much better for it. It will start to look professional.
Free Writing Tips #5 – Use those scissors.
The same is true, of course, for your entire story. Be vicious, cut those unwanted words. Cut, cut, and cut again, and you’ll be amazed at the difference.
Use your scissors, writers. Make your work better by slashing those flashy words! Remove those ‘purple phrases’. Get rid of unnecessary alternative words for said. Make your work simple and plain, and then people might just want to read it.
Free Writing Tips #6 – Getting to grips
Writing is a craft. You must master certain basic skills to become a proficient author. Before you can write you must understand the rules of grammar, composition, sentence construction, and how the language works.
If you don’t have these skills, you really ought to brush up on them. Go to evening classes for English, purchase a textbook, study online, but if you’re serious about writing, get to grips with the basics.
Free Writing Tips #7 – Work at it
Talent comes for free. If you have talent, you are blessed – bask in the glory of your good fortune. Talent won’t make you successful though.
Dedication and endless practise, are hard work. Hard work is what makes you successful. A less talented person who works hard, will be more successful than a genius who doesn’t.
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Free Writing Tips #8 – Keep writing
Writing time is for writing. If the editor inside you tries to take over, switch it off. The time for editing is after those precious words are down.
Whilst you’re writing, let the words gush out. Be effusive and your story will take on a life of it’s own. If you start to edit as you go along, your work will suffer.
Free Writing Tips #9 – Write for yourself
Don’t write purposely to be read or become published. If you do, you’ll miss out on the exhilaration of writing, and your work will be missing an important element – emotion. Never write what you think others want to read – write for yourself and your work will sparkle with enthusiasm.
Free Writing Tips #10 – And finally
The final of these free writing tips is to believe. Believe in yourself, believe in your work, believe you can be successful – and eventually you will be.