19 posts tagged how to
“I’ve written a lot of pieces on publishing success. I’ve talked about picking the right publisher, finding an editor, etc. All helpful, for sure, but this time I wanted to dig a bit deeper.”
-Penny C. Sansevieri on the Huffingtonpost
2 Cups of Creativity
4 Cups of Patience
1/2 Cup of Wit
1 Cup of Pride
1/3 Cup of Fear
2 Cups of Bravery
1 Cup of Originality
2 Cups of a Fondness for Novels
2 Cups of Dreams and Goals
1 Cup of Inspiration
Lay out a blank canvas with the recipe for your story.
Pick your utensil (this is important since the recipe is worthless without something to create with!)
Mold your characters. Note: Make sure they're realistic, inspiring, relatable, and anything else that will help your recipe feel like home. You should start smelling that delicious scent of inspiration!
Locate where your characters will come to life. A well-described world within that delicious page is best.
Pick your words from your mental garden (Fresh is always best!) Let them claim, collide, and color your page with the wonders of your story. Let the words fill the page for whatever time is necessary, until you cannot bring forth words anymore.
Let the result of your arduous work in your writer's kitchen sit, settle, sate your pride.
After letting your finished product cool, examine your art.
Read your meal, re-write your morsels of creation, and share with those closest to you (Repeat as many times as necessary!)
Congratulations! After the process is complete you should have a delectable book!
“Writers deliver their stories — fiction and nonfiction alike — to readers more effectively when they use appearances of people, places, and things to help drive the narrative and illuminate personalities. ”
“English has borrowed words from other languages indiscriminately, and has done so for hundreds of years. Often, this happens even when a perfectly sound native or imported synonym already exists, but sometimes the new term gains its footing because it expresses a concept better than an existing term, or conveys a connotation or nuance no other single word or phrase does.”
Check out the evocative French words by clicking the link above!
“Does the cast of characters in your novel or short story fall under some of these categories? Take care that your characters don’t fall into the cliché trap: If you find that they resemble one of the stereotypes below, reconsider your characterization or at least provide the dramatis persona with a distinguishing personality characteristic that’s a twist on the same old, same old.”
Check out the link posted above for a list of stock characters!
The article that I’ve linked above states some of the very important Do’s and Don’t’s of writing dialogue.
Are you following the Do’s?
- Follow grammatical rules
- Communicate character information
- Broken up with action
Or are you following the Don’t’s?
- Going crazy with dialogue tags (he said, she said are fine, but being overzealous with other tags)
- Writing too much backstory into the dialogue
- Overusing dialogue
- Being too realistic (using uh, hm, etc)
How to improve your dialogue skills:
- Read other novels by your favourite authors.
- Listen to what natural speech sounds like.
- Read what you’ve written aloud to a friend or family member.
For more detailed information on the points listed here, just check out the blog I’ve linked up.
Thanks to years of essay writing, I learned how to closely edit my work. My friend Lynsey (found here) is a professional editor, so feel free to ask her for advice as well.
I hope these tips help you out (like they did me) with your school, work, or leisure editing!
Your work is going to need some space if you want to edit it objectively. If you don’t take a break, you most likely won’t see all the things that need to be edited because you’re still too caught up in your work. The waiting time doesn’t need to be extreme (unless you’re working on a novel, then you need a longer period), probably a few hours to a day or a week should do it (depending on how long you have to spare).
2. You can never re-read your work enough.
Chances are, you’ll miss something and find it with every new re-reading. The basic re-reading steps (for me) would be as follows:
First read: Check for the usual mistakes—>spelling errors, missed/extra words
Second read: Make notes on what you can improve on.
Essay: How can you make your argument stronger?
Story: Is there a way to make your plot more concise?
Third read: Grammatical errors, awkward phrasing, run-on sentences (a sentence that can be split in two, or severely cut down), comma splices (where you put an unnecessary comma into your sentence), pronoun confusion (if you need this clarified, check out this great explanation here.)
Fourth read: Over-wordiness. Can you say what you’ve written in a shorter, stronger way?
3. Passive vs. Active
How’s your writing style? Do you have a passive or active writing voice?
Passive: Ken was running for the ball.
Active: Ken ran for the ball.
For an explanation of passive and active writing voices, check out an editor’s blog here.
4. A Truly Objective Eye
The best way to attain a true objective eye is to ask a friend or family member (that you know won’t bulk at the chance to edit your work honestly) to check out your work. Whereas you might miss something, even after all your edits, having a fresh pair of eyes editing your work will show what you didn’t see.
Essays: Is your argument strong? Do you have enough proof to substantiate your argument? Are your quotes incorporated into your paragraphs correctly? Are your quotes sourced/explained/introduced correctly? Do you meet the requirements that your teacher/professor asked for? (I.E. Font, size, etc.?) Do you follow your essay citing outline (MLA, Chicago, etc)?
Short-Stories: How’s the pacing of your story? Are you showing or telling us what is happening? Does the plot make sense? How are your tenses (past, present, future) and persons (first, second, third)?
Novel: (The questions from the “Short-Stories” section can be applied here.) Have you had someone else look at your work before sending it in/publishing it? Have any plot holes? Are your characters well-developed? Any name/place/etc confusions?
When editing, you need to always ask yourself: Is your work the best it can be?
If you can answer, “Yes” then you might be good to go, if you can’t honestly answer the question, then perhaps you should go back and examine your work.
I hope these help and good luck with your writing!
So you want to write a book review, huh? Well, I can offer you some pointers that I use when I write about a recent book I’ve read! Of course, these pointers are by far nothing concrete, just the formula I employ when going about this task.
1. Try to keep an open mind when reading the book. I am sure that most of you jump into a book after reading a few positive and negative reviews on the Goodreads, amazon, or chapters websites.
- Do not let the reviews fully influence what you are going to read. Since we all have different tastes, a book that someone really disliked may become a favourite of yours.
- Keeping this in mind, try your hardest to not be steered by what others say, but by what you thought of the book when writing the review.
2. Enjoy your book, but keep a critical eye on it too (unless you can read it twice for reviewing reasons).
- Write notes while you read if you think this will help you later on with writing a review.
- By all means, enjoy the book! Just remember that your review should be more than just you gushing about the book or hating on it, you should have points backing up why you either loved it or hated it.
- Don’t worry! The first few times it can be a bit stressful recalling what you wanted to say about the book, but you’ll be improving your technique with each review you write!
3. A book review should be informative and opinionated.
- If you absolutely despised the book, then tell us why. What bothered you so much that you simply couldn’t enjoy it?
- If you loved it, why did you love it so much?
- Books more often than not have both good and bad qualities. Don’t be shy or scared of hurting the author’s feelings. You are the reader, so you decide what YOU thought was good and what YOU thought was bad.
4. Don’t feel obligated to write a long review! I’ve seen great reviews that are short and others that are long.
5. Be honest.
- If you didn’t like something about the book then say it. Don’t overlook it because you don’t want to upset the author, chances are future readers will appreciate your honesty.
6. Have fun! Your review isn’t just about letting other readers know what you liked and/or disliked about the book, but it’s also a way for you to practice your writing voice!
If you’re new to book reviewing, but are a huge reader, then imagine how many others you could be enlightening with your words! If you are a book reviewer, don’t feel obliged to follow these points… because they’re just what I use when writing reviews.
Happy reading and writing!
5. Always carry a notebook or something that you can jot down ideas on. Honestly, I know that it might sound overused to say, “Always have a journal with you!” but you have no idea how handy it comes when you’ve an idea you can’t wait to write down! Also, having something to write in (your cellphone or iPod works too!) will help stimulate your writing muscle because you are more likely to feel inclined to write stuff down than if you don’t have anything on you and ideas pass you by.
4. Read. God, I must sound like a broken record, but really, READ. The literature that you love, will undoubtedly inspire you and set a stepping stone for your writing! So, keeping this in mind, when you write down your next great novel, who does your writing style remind you of? You’d be surprised at your answer, and just think, in the future someone will aspire to write like you!
3. Do what you want to do. If you love words, then play with them. If you love splashing your ideas on paper, then paint away! Don’t ever not write because of your fear of disappointing someone or because of your fear of your own future. No one knows for certain what will happen in the future, so why deter yourself now?
2. Sit in front of your computer, typewriter, or pull out some paper and pencils/pens. You don’t have to write a whole novel in one sitting… but write something! Doesn’t matter if it is some dialogue, a poem, or even a paragraph. Just write! This will get you more comfortable in your writing and you’ll build the habit of writing whenever it pleases you!
1. Keep a blog/journal/writing account on some website. I know this seems kind of… fishy… but honestly, I’ve seen so many Tumblr, Wordpress, and Live Journal blogs that imitate journals, or even a creative outlet, writing wise, and that I think this is an excellent exercise in writing. Journals give us an outlet for our emotions and our general observations in our lives, and writing accounts on other websites help because they are basically peer to peer observations of our work. Now, I’m not saying write out your future best seller on these sites (plagiarism via internet is no fun), but just little scraps, or lines that hint at your writing style.
These are just some ideas and I hope they help you future authors out!
Brotherhood 2.0: February 22nd: Where Do Books Go? (by vlogbrothers)
Good advice on where to put all of your books! :D Thanks Hank!
These are just some points I think might help, good luck!
1. Have confidence in your own work. You think that successful authors didn’t doubt themselves at some point? They just kept striving to succeed!
2. Take those authors you keep comparing yourself to and use them as inspiration for your future writing career. Fear is such a negative emotion that it will only set you back, overcome it and change it into motivation!
3. Write. Always. How can you work on improving your craft if you aren’t practicing it daily?
4. Always have something on you to write. You say that you don’t have any room for a notebook or some paper and a pen? Easy. Use the Notepad feature on your phone or iPod.
5. When you start a story you like, finish it. Work at it like there’s no tomorrow and instead of following the urge to start another story, simply write the ideas somewhere else for later use.
6. Remember that one day your writing will affect a future writer just like successful authors intimidate you, so what you’re feeling isn’t an exclusive and rare case.
7. Everyone has a different style. Just remember that YOU HAVE SOMETHING OF YOUR OWN TO OFFER THE WORLD just like your favourite authors did/do.
8. If you keep looking at your work and sighing in disdain, don’t just give up. How can you improve it?
9. Why do you write? Think about it. Is it worth giving up your dream because of the fear that you have of other authors?
10. Not all great books are/were written in months. Many are written in years. John Green has admitted that The Fault in Our Stars had been with him for years before he finally wrote the story. I know successful writers make it look easy with their fluent diction and poetic prose, but do you honestly think that they didn’t lose sleep over their manuscripts like you do? They’re human too. They got to where they are by working hard and believing in their work, so don’t give up. Never give up.
Here are some suggestions… I’m not a psych major, but I am a book lover and I’m just speaking from experience, hope this helps!
1. Analyze the environment you’ve been reading in… ask yourself if these places were beneficial to your reading experience or not? Sometimes if we’re in a hectic or too tranquil of a place, we lose focus on books and find it harder to read simply because our attention is divided between the book and our surroundings.
2. Do you honestly like this book? I’ve mentioned before that IT IS OKAY TO STOP READING A BOOK IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT. No one will judge you, and if they do, whatever, you’re your own reader. Sometimes society over-hypes a book and we believe that because everyone else likes it we HAVE to like it too… which is complete crap. Be honest with yourself.
3. If you honestly like this book, but are just intimidated, then give yourself some time. Some books can be devoured, others are a full course meal that will take time to savour and digested. There is no shame in taking your time.
4. If you want to finish the book, but need a break, then take one. Maybe you just need a different book to clear your thoughts before continuing. If you genuinely love the big, daunting book that’s haunting you, then you’ll returned fresh-faced and ready to go.
5. Try to schedule your readings. If you think that the book is good, but too intense, then maybe read it in intervals. For example, read the book for an hour every day, except for when it gets exciting. Before you know it, you’ll be finished and it will feel awesome!
Hope this helps you guys out and feel free to ask me anything, anytime!
5. Buy that book that s/he has been going on about in almost all of your conversations and surprise him/her with it.
4. Be a reader yourself. You have no idea how attractive this is to us.
3. Buy your special someone not just a book, but also a bookmark… so that s/he actually has a bookmark rather than some random scrap of paper… which is a habit of the avid reader.
2. Be knowledgeable about novelists/poets. It’s very appealing when you are able to comment on authors/poets and books/poems they’ve written.
1. Be patient and supportive. If you want to spend more time with him/her, then grab a book and read alongside him/her. As long as you’re okay with comfortable silences full of imagination and wanderings, then this will be a very intimate moment!