Of how to write and how to write better.
Having ideas about what you want to write is good, liking these ideas is better, but knowing how to put them on paper, that’s the best you can do! Here are a few tips about what I do to improve my writing and what you could do to do the same.
You know what you want to write about? Great, now grab that pen and do as I say!
Once you have written down the plot, once you know what your characters look like, what they have done and what they will do you have a rough piece of writing that doesn’t resemble at all what the finished product will be but that will help you greatly in getting there!
1 – You want to write well? First learn to read!
It’s the same as running, first you have to learn to walk. Well in writing you have to learn to read, if possible a lot and as good stories as possible. Why? Because it’s by watching, or here reading, something that you learn how to do it, once you know how it’s done you can try it, but first and foremost you have to watch. So read.
Read a lot, read anything, read everything! Yes, this is a pretty common and obvious piece of advice given by almost every author, but don’t you think that since it is given by so many professional and non-professional writers it must have some truth in it?
Now, don’t read what you don’t like, at least not at first. If you are nt a huge reader, start with small texts or things that really interests you, just try to read as often as you can. (Re-reading books is also good!) As you progress in your reading, it will become more enjoyable and easier, like a hobby or a habit. When it does, you will surely find yourself attracted to new stories and new types of books. Let yourself be swept in, try new things, try things you may not think you will like at first. Ask around if people have any good books to recommend, read different types of stories (novels, poetry, short stories, plays, fantasy, romance, action, suspense, science fiction, historical, virtually anything that interests you).
It’s by reading all those books that you will subconsciously start to give structure to your own stories, you will know how to write the scenes you imagine in your mind. It will also be very helpful on a grammatical and vocabularical (? I can’t find the right word… T_T) level because you will make fewer mistakes, you will know the words’ spelling by heart after seeing them so often, you will learn how to use them correctly and you will learn new vocabulary, all this subconsciously, isn’t that awesome?!
Reading is awesome for many reasons, those as some but that’s not all. You will surely find stories and characters that inspire you, that give you ideas about what you could do or don’t want to do, about what you should do and what has already been done. No story can be completely original and new, all of them have been inspired by things that already exist. Plotto : The Master Book of All Plots is a book that is said to be usable to create virtually any story plot possible. This is an example of the fact that nothing you think of is new (or at least is has very little chances to be), what matters is how you tell the events you imagine and what you make of them.
Each person has a way of telling a story and, taking me as an example, despite the events of my story being quite ordinary (what I mean is that it must have already been told, one way or another) and the theme having been used by many authors, I am making something unique because of how my story proceeds and of my way of telling it. Reading other authors will help you find a way to write your story your own way and it might give you ideas to tell in a new and original way.
2 – Write a lot and regularly.
This is also one of the most common piece of advice given by authors and it is entirely true. In French we have a saying that goes this way : “It is by forging that one becomes a blacksmith”, you would translate it as “Practise makes perfect” (I like our version better though). What it means is that it’s by writing that you can improve your writing.
As you write, you will clear your ideas and shed light on the way you are trying to tell your story, this will help you find better ways to tell it because when you begin you won’t be good. No, you won’t. But don’t worry, it will come with time and practise, try hard and with passion, one day you’ll find yourself writing something awesome without even realizing it.
Writing a lot also make it easier to write. You might not understand this if you have never tried to write a story before, but writing a lot for a long time is really hard. You get bored, distracted, you might also get writer’s block from time to time. It’s really harder than it seems, but by writing as much as you can as often as you can you easily overcome this, or at least you don’t have a problem writing for a long time, you just have to find inspiration from that point on.
The best way to do it is to write a set amount of words each day, not necessarily a lot but consistently and preferably at the same time, dedicate a half hour, an hour or more of you time depending on your schedule, and for the entire duration of that time do only one thing : write. Write about anything, about your story, about your day, about something random or about themes, like for the daily prompt. Just try to write as regularly as possible and you’ll see, it’ll get easier and you will find writing a lot easier.
I’d recommend to try to do that for about an hour a day, try to write a thousand word. If you can’t do it at first don’t get discouraged and DON’T stop, that’s the worst thing you could do. Just write what you can and try to add a few words each day, patience and dedication are the best tools to succeed in your writing.
3 – Let others read what you write and listen to what they have to say.
If you want to improve your writing there is one thing that will always work : ask for feedback.
You see your story in a certain way but other people may see and understand things in another and it is that other point of view that is important. It will help you know how you could shape your story differently, how you could put your ideas into words in a different way for other people to understand.
Also beta readers or just simple readers who are interested in your stories will surely see mistakes and incoherent things that you have missed, they can be a great help in improving your writing and your plot. Other people are a force to be reckoned with!
Plus knowing that there are people out there who are reading your story and who tell you what they think of it, is a really fulfilling feeling. It’s nice to know people like what you write and to have someone to help stay motivated and to give some advice when needed!
Okay, that’s all for today. I hope this wasn’t as messy as when I first thought of it and that it will help, even just a little!
See you later!