17 July 2010

Want to improve your own writing? Reflections from novelist Sheyna Galyan on writing.......

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tips For Writing 

Write the story within you. Most writers will tell you to write the book that's in you right now, the book you think about every waking minute, the book you have no choice about writing. Don't write the book your publisher wants, or the book your mother wants, or the book that's guaranteed to make the New York Times bestsellers list. If it's not the book that is kicking and screaming to get out of your head and onto paper, you'll only wind up being disappointed in it, and it probably won't please your publisher, your mother, or anyone at the New York Times. Hand in hand with that goes...

Believe in yourself. This is crucial to not only writing well, but selling the book you do write. If it's too elusive, too overwhelming, or causes you to snort derisively, please consult with a good therapist.

Keep a journal of ideas. You can keep an actual journal or book and write down story ideas, character names, plot twists, and so on. Or you can do what I do which is messier but also works: I write ideas down on slips of paper, backs of envelopes, paper napkins, or anything else I can get my hands on and then keep them all in a box that I call my Idea Box. Whenever I want an idea for a story, or I need some way to develop a plot or I need a character name, I reach into my Idea Box and pull them out. Usually one of them fits. UPDATE: I also use my iPod Touch for this, writing ideas into a memo or note and sync-ing it with my laptop. I name them all starting with "Useful Bits:" and categorize them as "Writing" so I can group them efficiently.

Don't be afraid to improve. In other words, don't expect your first writings to be perfect. They won't be. It's the nature of growing as a writer. Use each opportunity to write as a chance to develop your craft. A year from now, you'll look back on your writing and be surprised at how far you've come. That's good: it means you're growing. The scary part is when you look back at stuff you wrote years ago and it looks exactly like the stuff you wrote yesterday. That means there hasn't been enough growth. Even published writers aren't perfect writers. I was first published over twenty-five years ago and I'm still learning and growing as a writer.

Read writing books. You can find them at any local library. One of the many better ones is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. As a writer, you are an artist, and all artists need to learn their craft from those who have already succeeded. Books about writing will answer a lot of questions about fiction and non-fiction, synopses, characterizations, dialogue, plot, setting, description, and so forth. They are a wellspring of information, so take advantage of them.

Be a prolific reader. The more you read, the more you will see how other successful writers practice their craft, and the more you'll learn about your own.

Read the full article at: Books and Beliefs
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