Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Writing Tips That I Enjoy

Over the course of the past year, I have spent a good deal of time reading popular writing tips, many of which have either helped me improve my writing, or at the very least, let me know when I am on the right path. While I am not a dazzling successful published author (yet), I've decided to compile a list of things I've learned that I find most valuable:

-Use any forms of "to be" as minimally as possibly (e.g. was, were, am, be, been)
-The word "said" reads better than flashier words like "vowed, grumbled, declared"
-Never start a book with too much backstory, a phone ringing, or someone waking up
-Describe things that only need description - if its not relevant, move on
-Adverbs are not your friend
-Topical ideas and pop culture are fun, but they date your book and make it stale
-Be consistent - if your protaganist has brown hair on page 1, make sure it isn't blond on page 100
-Outlines are vital
-Do not query until you're revised your manuscript, then revised it again, and again
-When revising, ask yourself "does this need to be here? does it move the story along? develop a character? build tension?" every line, and if it doesn't, then cut it out
-Over 100,000 words is probably too much (unless your writing fantasy) and under 70,000 words probably isn't enough (unless your writing children's)
-Dialogue is important, but make sure it's necessary, and give you unique speech patterns to each character, without being cliched, repetitive, or over the top
-Never use a longer word when a smaller one will do

-When revising, watch out for modifiers, including "very," "pretty," "rarely," "usually"
-Use the least amount of words as possible - if a sentence can be shortened, shorten it
-Proper editing is a vital skill

-Look at examples of query letters and make sure you read and understand the agents submissions guidelines

-Read constantly, especially in the genre you are writing, but don't limit yourself to that
-Utelize feedback and don't take criticism personally - having a thick skin is essential

-Read agents blogs - they're the most useful resources out there
-Use twitter and blogs to connect with other writers - search for #pubtip and #writetip on twitter
-Don't ever give up. Constantly write, edit, and read, and don't constrict yourself to one book or genre. 

I know there are millions more, but these are just some that I found most helpful.