Last year I had the pleasure of inviting several authors to my blog to share their writing tips. We began with erotic author, Max Vos, and finished with a post that summarised the best tips from all the guest bloggers. This year we’re about to do it all again and we’ll even include tips for writing historical fiction, and for what technology to use to help with your writing endeavours.
But I thought I’d start with three of my own tips. I’ve already posted another blog on the topic a while back (click here), but since then I have come across other advice from others sharing their thoughts.
Tip Number One – Know Your Ending!
I think this is the most important tip anyone should take note of when they start a novel. Endings are hard if you finally find yourself on the last page of your story, and dissatisfying for your reader if you’ve made it up on the spot. One thing that should drive your idea through this process is knowing that you’ve got something important you want to say at the end.
It also helps you add clues along the way, or red herrings, that for your reader, will all come together as they read those last words.
A long time ago I studied acting where my classmates and I were always told to find the ‘spine’ of the play we were in. This was the overall message of the written text – what the playwright intended the audience to think about as they left the theatre. Your reader should have that same feeling of ‘I get it’ as they close the back cover.
Tip Number Two – Names
This is one I came across recently in a blog, and it’s a very good one to consider. Think of books you’ve read where you started forgetting who was who. Chances are the characters’ names were ones you hear everyday. Common names that, while they were suitable for that person, once they returned several chapters on, you tried to desperately remember who they were, or you mixed them up with someone else.
Some of your more exotic characters could have nicknames. Some could have names you’ve made up. But if many of them have similar sounding names, then your reader stands a good chance of getting confused. Make each name stand out.
Tip Number Three – If it’s clear in the dialogue, don’t overemphasis it.
This is a tip that my first editor drilled into me and it’s a very important one. We often see the terms ‘furrowed a brow’ or ‘shook his head’ in novels. Yes, they are important in painting a picture of what’s going on in the scene, but if the dialogue suggests they are raising an eyebrow or shaking their heads, there’s no need to tell us. It slows the pace of the dialogue.
We hear dialogue every day in real life, or we hear it on the screen. So if your dialogue flows and gives the right emotional tone, don’t weigh it down with descriptive text. The world won’t come to an end if you let your characters move the story along with their own words. To the reader it will sound more natural.
Next week we’ll hear from an author who mostly writes mm romance – Erin O’Quinn. CLICK HERE TO READ.
One Reply to “Writing Tips”
I enjoyed your take on writing. It all seems so common-sensical and easy, until we do it… As for names, I keep a running list of names (characters, towns, streets, pubs, etc) for easy ref as I write. And of course, you’re right to point out that the reader needs to remembert them too! So no tongue-twisters, sound-alikes, impossibly foreign, etc.
Best of success. I truly enjoyed the crystalline, crisp writing I found…and savored…in NATE AND THE NEW YORKER.