Archives for Writing tips

10 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a figment of our imaginations. There is no shortage of ideas. The source of the writer’s creative frustrations is the same source of nearly every person’s perceived hindrance in all walks of life. It’s fear. Fear of failure, being rejected, being laughed at, heckled by peers or whatever. You have ideas, probably great ones. We all have ideas. It is only when we start comparing our ideas to those of Stephen King or Michael Crichton that we freeze up and second guess ourselves. But as with every other facet of life, there is a fine line to
Read More

Why Reading Widely Improves Your Writing

We all know that reading is helpful to our writing. But why is that exactly?   Improves Vocabulary Even if you were the vocab queen in school, chances are you’re not utilizing that well of knowledge on the daily basis. Reading a variety of work exposes you to a wider vocabulary and builds up a treasure trove of words for you to draw upon. Reading with an eye for word choice will also remind you that the type of language you use is very important — word choice needs to reflect the characters’ attitudes and plot situations.   Inspires Creativity
Read More

8 Tips for Polishing Your Fiction

I always enjoy working on draft 2. Sure, draft 1 can be full of surprises, discovery and moments of brilliance (or least if feels like brilliance at the time) but it can also be quite a taxing task. Draft 2 is more like the second time you make a new recipe: you’ve worked out what works and what doesn’t and can’t wait to try it again, this time with fewer mistakes. That’s not to say that drafts 3 to 3,000 won’t have their moments of difficulty, but they exist to continuously refine what drafts 1 and 2 have established. Now,
Read More

Are Genre categories stifling your sales?

  WARNING: Do not read unless you have already eaten!   Forget what you ever thought you knew about books. Why? Because YOU don’t decide what you read… Empirical Science does! A sweeping statement, perhaps… or is it? Let’s examine one of the most frustrating problems an author can face in today’s writing paradigm. And before I continue, I should make clear I’m not talking just about Traditional Publishing. Now IMAGINE for a moment you find yourself in a supermarket; we’ve all been there, right. You entered without any clear idea of what you were going to buy; no shopping
Read More

Who’s up for a fight? [Writing real fight scenes]

Recently I have been chatting with a friend and fellow author about writing fight scenes in her novel. Unlike most writers, this is an area that doesn’t give me too many problems, or at least, not of the same kind that they experience. Let’s lay down a few antecedents: I have been trained in 26 different fighting systems, holding black belt degrees in 14 of these, and a host of weapons during a long and interesting life. But my knowledge is not just theoretical. Unfortunately, I have had to use those skills on occasion… and I’m still here, so they
Read More

Time for a Selfie! (A newbie’s guide to the Self-Edit)

I often use the analogy of movies when talking about writing novels because they do have a number of things in common. This is yet another, although here there is a marked difference. This is yet another one, although here there is a marked difference. Without a doubt this is possibly the most soul-destroying event any new writer will experience. When making a movie, the Director will film many takes that will not end up in the final version of the film. These could be because the actors made a mistake, burst out laughing in the middle of filming, or
Read More

Writing Style Reminders

Trying to explain a style of writing is something like trying to nail jello to a tree. You can try all you want, but it’s just not going to work. Writing style is as different as there are writers in the world. Everyone has their own style of writing. A way or combining words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs that is uniquely their own. In the Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, they devote an entire section to style. Do they explain it as a set of rules? No. Not hardly. But, what they do is give
Read More

I think I should warn you about something…

In my last article about Show and Tell (here), I briefly mentioned Foreshadowing. I have been inundated by five emails demanding I explain a little more about this useful writing tool. So here goes… Many eons ago, shortly after the dinosaurs died out, I decided to become a writer. Little did I know what the future held in store for me… That’s foreshadowing for you. What have I just done? I have created tension, expectancy in my readers – yes, I’ve manipulated their emotional response again and pressed the ‘Reader Engagement’ button. Now that’s just one way you can use
Read More

Let’s go to the Movies!

If you are new to this fiction writing business, chances are you will have heard a short phrase repeated frequently and cited as part of the MUST DO rules for authors. Yes, I’m talking about SHOW, DON’T TELL! If you are lucky, you have come across this gem of advice on a writer’s blog where they will have provided a few examples. Sometimes these examples are useful insights into how to put this into practice. On other occasions, however, the extracts only serve to confuse the matter even further because they are usually presented without any detailed explanation.   If
Read More

Character Building

Novels are often described as being either plot-driven or character-driven. This is something that may confuse the aspiring or new writer. Surely all plot-driven novels have characters, and character-driven novels have plots. Often I feel that this description is applied when the reviewer comes across a character that stands out (so the work is character-driven) or not (plot-driven). I think this is a somewhat short-sighted approach – I’ve yet to meet an author who doesn’t try to make their characters believable. So let’s take a look at why some succeed and others don’t. First off, despite all the effort that
Read More