One of the most common problems I see with new writers is a “mistake in tone.” You know what I mean if you’ve ever played in a band. A new kid comes in, you’re trying to play a song, and he blats out a sour note on a trumpet. The same thing happens in writing.
Writing clear dialog isn’t hard to do, but many new writers—and some old ones—make some pretty simple mistakes. Here are a few things to be wary of and that you should know.
I’ve often said that there are ten thousand right ways to write a story. Unfortunately, there are a million wrong ways to do so. That’s why I’ve found when editing stories for anthologies or judging contests, about 90% of them don’t make the first cut. Here are some easy ways to avoid getting rejected.
One problem that often occurs is that if you write about multiple protagonists: you’ll find that some of them can “get lost” in the novel.
In your rewrites, take the opportunity to add as many virtues to your work as possible.
Here are some ideas to help you increase your ability to write and to brainstorm.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how authors can get into a relaxed creative mood that lets them write more, faster, and better.
Last week I got a note from a student who just had a novel accepted by a major publisher. He seemed a little surprised at how easily it had happened, as if he’d happened to enter a horse race and had just taken first place by accident.
But it’s no accident.
Every new writer, and quite a few old ones, is familiar with that sinking feeling that happens when you start a new tale and wonder, “Where do I begin?”
I hate the word “resolute.” Whenever I think of it, I think of soldiers circa 1800, marching resolutely into battle, knowing that they’re going to die. Yet every year I make resolutions anyway.
Remember that scene in It's a Wonderful Life when the whole town got together and pitched in to help a family in need? I know a family that needs a moment like that.
When you’re writing, it’s important to take control of your reader’s emotions. You do this by creating sounds, images, or actions. Each time you create an emotional experience, it’s called an emotional beat.
I’ve learned that just about any time that you think that something is impossible to do, in a day or so you’ll notice that someone else has figured a way to work around it.
I was rewriting a scene, listening closely to the sound and rhythm of the words in a passage, looking for ways to strengthen it, and it made me wonder: how many new writers take the proper care with their words? How many truly listen?
Sometimes when people look at a writer who produces a lot, they make exclamations like, “Wow, how do you get so much done? You’re amazing! How did you get to be so prolific?”
On the door at my gym, someone hung a sign that says, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit keeps you going.”
I’ve said before that every story should have an emotional payoff. Yet far too often, I read stories where the payoff is weaker than it should be, or it isn’t there at all.
As a contest judge, I see a lot of stories from beginning writers, and very often the writer seems to be preoccupied with just “writing.”
The most productive writers, I’ve noticed, aren’t necessarily the ones with the most talent or the greatest skills.