Sunday, 22 March 2015

Have any Writing Tips?



Since publishing The Last Rose, I've been lucky to have been invited as a guest on some lovely blogs (see last week's post here) and a question I'm often asked is what writing tips I would give to new writers wanting to break into the magazine market.

Here is the answer I often give:

 Write the story you'd love to read. Rather than trying to fit in with a style you think the magazine will want, try and find your own voice. It you love your story, it's more likely that a magazine editor will too.
 
But this is just my own advice and there are a lot of writers out there with years more experienced than me, writing for a lot of different markets. 

With this in mind, I though it would be fun to compile a top tips list covering three different categories: magazines, novels and competitions to publish on my blog.

Could you help? 

Just leave your tip as a comment below, starting it with the name of your chosen category (just a sentence or two would be great) and I will use the ones I feel are the best in a future post. Thank you in anticipation of all the lovely advice you are going to give!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

47 comments:

  1. Romantic comedy: let the humour be organic and come out of the situation - don't try and force it (or convolute the story to accommodate a 'funny' situation).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Historicals: I like to open with an action carried out by either the hero or the heroine and I like to have them meet and interact as close to the top of the story as possible - page one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A great on to start off historicals. Thanks Anne

      Delete
  3. Check your facts - even with fiction you can't just make it all up.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Historical Romance: remember its a romance and not a text book. Feed in historical facts - but don't overuse them. Caroline x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree - it's so tempting to throwback the research in so as not to waste it.

      Delete
  5. Themed Competitions - NEVER go with the first idea you think of. Everyone will have thought of that too. Brainstorm for a bit & see what else you can come up with.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Novels: it's a marathon, so just get it down however you can. You can't edit a blank page. Keep going until you have a first draft. Then mess with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely agree, you can't edit a blank page. Write, write, write and then worry about structure and editing. Also get some good supportive critical friends to read drafts and give feedback on what you want feedback on.

      Delete
    2. 'Worry about structure and editing later' - a lesson I clearly need to learn!

      Delete
  7. That's a good tip for me, Liz, as I'm forever tinkering as I write.

    ReplyDelete
  8. When you've done a draft of your story look at it in different ways - ie print it out if you can; it looks different on paper, and reading out loud to yourself is a real help with dialogue and in finding repetitions you don't see on the page.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely recommend printing it out and trading it too, Kate.

      Delete
  9. Don't get bogged down with unnecessary research. Begin with what you know then fill in the gaps as and when needed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ... especially with historical fiction.

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. Ha ha - was that one aimed at me, Tracy?!

      Delete
    2. Aimed at us all. I have lost count of the people I've met who write beautifully but never finish things, never edit and never send things out. I include myself of course! Finishing something this morning :)

      Delete
  11. Novel: Write as much and as often as you can. If I'm stuck I give myself 15 minutes to write through it. If that fails I write a different section of the novel. Don't focus on the linear approach, allow yourself to dot about then pull it together at the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the idea of a 15 minute chance to work through a difficulty - I'm going to implement that one.

      Delete
  12. Novels: At the moment I don't write regularly enough. As a result, I spend half of my time having to read what I wrote last week. And when I re-read it, I start tinkering with it, meaning that I never get any further forward. So, write regularly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do exactly the same thing, Ben - a sure way to get nothing done.

      Delete
  13. Stories: If its a reject, re-draft and send it out somewhere else. You could enter it for a comp or sub to another mag market. Don't just leave it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! This way you greatly increase the chances of finding a home for the story.

      Delete
  14. Competitions: read the rules, then read them again. Then again.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Any type of writing - if you wanted to get published then: apply bottom to chair (unless you write standing up) and JFDI (you don't need me to translate).
    A writing friend recently told me to JFDI after I was griping about writing a missing chapter in my novel. Think I may get that printed on a mug or T-shirt.
    And another tip (if I can have 2): you can't edit/polish/submit what you haven't written ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you are a special friend I'll allow you two, Tracy (and they are very good!)

      Delete
  16. Sometimes you need to let your sub-conscious work on character or plot issues, rather than struggling with them. I've always found it works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find walking the dog usually helps.

      Delete
  17. All Categories

    There's a plethora of available advice for writers, including many "rules" (sometimes pronounced "guidelines"). I've read a great deal of it over the years and could probably come up with many tips but I doubt they'd be original. There are plenty of good ones already here.

    One thing I absolutely will say is: question all advice!

    Good writing advice, particularly that of the "rules" type, has to:

    * Make sense.
    * Have a reason and/or justification.
    * Give examples where possible.

    For example, I've heard things like "never start a chapter with dialogue". What rubbish. That particular so-called advice had no reasoning behind it, so I ignored it. Another one I cam across was "never write in first person viewpoint". That might be a valid piece of advice for, say, a particular magazine, but by itself it's useless and almost certainly wrong. One person's likes and dislikes do not necessarily constitute good advice.

    On the other hand, I've heard: "Don't dump information on the reader because they'll become bored. They're not interested in how well the writer has done their research, they just want enough realism and to get on with the story." That piece of advice was sensible and I try to adhere to it.

    HtH -- Kevin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, yes, Kevin - wise words and the 'avoid information dump' seems to be quite a popular one and definitely something I try to avoid. I'm hoping that readers will see all of these for what they are... tips, not rules.

      Delete
  18. Magazine fiction writing - read the magazine regularly, all of it, ads, letters, everything - to get a clear idea of who the reader is. If you can empathise with them (you don't have to be them), then you can write for them. If you don't really truly like them, it will come across. (And this doesn't count as a second comment, because someone already said it but yes, read it out loud first, especially dialogue. Preferably when the house is empty ...!)
    Kate Hardstaff

    ReplyDelete
  19. Keep accurate records, so you always know what you've sent where, and when. I use a spreadsheet which details things like word count and income, and dates paid and published. It's very handy for tax returns and updating ALCS :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do the same, Emma - it can get so confusing otherwise.

      Delete
  20. If you're stuck on something try leaving it overnight. Sometimes the answer will arrive in your dreams or even a whole different story might arrive inspired by the original..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've sometimes had to wait a week for that to happen!

      Delete
  21. "Remember you love writing. It wouldn't be worth it if you didn't.If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back."--AL Kennedy

    ReplyDelete
  22. Great post, Wendy. The advice about getting the story/novel written seems to be the best advice for me. I'm too tempted to tweak and edit as I go along and it would be better to just write. This was what I did during NaNaWriMo and I got so much written. I now have plenty to edit and reflect upon. Sad to say, I'm back to my old ways again though - slow to almost stop. :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sometimes have to make myself stop fiddling and editing and 'just write'.

      Delete
    2. I know what you mean about NaNoWriMo, Jan. We all churn out huge amounts in November and firmly believe we'll carry on like that forever, but of course we don't.

      My piece of advice is: write every day. If you don't write today, it'll be that little bit harder to get started tomorrow. And the longer you leave it, the harder it will be.

      Delete
  23. And I was just thinking, what's the first piece of advice which springs to mind (before I read your comment above Wendy)? 'Just Write!'-it's the only way to finish a novel, or piece of short fiction. I'm not published yet, so don't feel in a position to give tips on writing- but I know that when I write every day for a significant amount of time (ideally in a minimum 3 hour block, it's rare, but effective ;-)), logging my word count in a spreadsheet, I'm one step closer to being published.

    ReplyDelete