I’m a writing tip junkie. Any tweet or blog post or random comment that begins, “Here’s the best tip I’ve ever gotten about writing…” makes me click. What’s thirty seconds of time when I could pick up a gold nugget that changes my
writerly life? Mostly, 1) I already know them, 2) they’re pedestrian, or 3) they’re wrong, but occasionally I get one–or twenty-one I found a year ago.
Here are sixteen more I think are worth passing on. See if you agree:
- Unless required for voice-related purposes, avoid using “needless to say” or “utilize” or “awesome tits” in your writing. (Women: Fill in the blank: “Awesome _____.”)
- Be tech savvy and have a good liberal arts background [to succeed as a writer].
- The whole process of writing a novel is having this great, beautiful idea and then spoiling it.
- “The writer is only free when he can tell the reader to go jump in the lake…”
- Stop calling yourself an ‘aspiring author’.
- Aspiring is dead.
- Back talent with arrogance.
- Writing what you know IS writing who you don’t know.
- Her plot is as slow as a tortoise on Valium. Don’t make your plot as slow as a tortoise on Valium (you’d have to know that cable TV commercial to get this one)
- Don’t let ANY AGENT set you up for a high-five and then trip you.
- I’ve known agents who wouldn’t know a good book if it took them to the World Series.
- If I was trying to get there [the climax], I wouldn’t start from here.
- Ironing out the plot problems would take an industrial laundry a month.
- In romance novels, plot is important. Characters are more important.
- You either have to write or you shouldn’t be writing. That’s all. (I forget who said that–someone famous)
- …don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.
- As long as you produce pages, your writing method is the best.
- Write your heart out.
- Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader–or any reader. He/ she might exist–but is reading someone else. (I think this is Joyce Carol Oates)
- The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written.
- Use active voice whenever possible.
- Cut the boring parts. ~Elmore Leonard
- Speed through your climax like an Indie car. (if you write thrillers)
- Write without pay until somebody offers to pay. ~Mark Twain
- Following what works will only get you so far.
- Don’t use coffee mug slogans for your story themes.
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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a weekly columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.