Tipsy and trickery – Part Deux

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!

Tipsy and trickery – Part Un

I want to be a writer.

Yep, there, I said it. I want to write a great story and to become famous and make a lot of money. These are my crazy goals.

But to go from an unknown amateur writer with just a good idea to a fully fledged multi millionaire writer I still have some way to go, so to do that I have to work quite a bit. To make it work I must have some methods to write and this is what I wanted to talk about with you here, I wanted to tell you about my methods of writing, how I find inspiration and what are my goals with these stories. This will be a multi-part post, preferably divided in categories and linked together, in which I will try to explain how I work and to give you some advice as to what to do to write a story.

This time, I will begin by talking about the three things I believe you absolutely must do before you even try to write the first chapter of your story. They are important in my opinion, and they might help you build your story more easily, but feel free to disagree with me, it is my method after all…


 

Drop that pen and sit down lad!

No, you should NOT start writing your book right away. Indeed, if you do, you may make the gravest mistake of your life and lead to the long and painful destruction of the universe. Before you even think about starting to write your story there are a few things you have to make sure of.

1 – Think about it

Yup, just think. And also, ask yourself this : is my story really good enough? Does it deserve to write it down?

Think about that, really hard. Think about the plot you have in mind, think about how it will play out and how you want it to end. Try to imagine yourself as a reader and to see if you would like to read your own story.

Whenever I have and idea, i know I wish it would just write itself down on paper to be done with it and be able to read it without having to go through all the trouble of writing it. But here is the problem : this doesn’t happen. And if it did happen, I can’t tell you the number of crappy ideas that go through my head during the day that I find awesome at first but end up becoming terrible. So yeah, take a minute, step back and look at the whole picture. Do you like what you imagine, is it an idea that really motivates you to work on?

It is? Awesome! Then you can go on to step two!

2 – Make sure you like to write / Make sure you write well

Yes, it seems like a stupid to do but I assure you, it’s very important.

If you don’t like to write, then it will most definitely not be a fun ride, so you have to make sure you will like doing that until you’ve finished your story if you ever plan to go that far. Sometimes it happens, I find myself not liking to write things for a moment, going from a few hours to a few days, I’m not unable to write but in these moments I just don’t want to do it, I don’t like it anymore.

It’s really frustrating because when it comes back you feel like a complete idiot for even thinking that you didn’t like writing anymore and it seems such a strange idea that you almost can’t believe yourself, but I assure you, it happens to me from time to time. So that’s why you have to make sure you’ll enjoy doing it from start to finish.

If you do awesome. Now, try writing something down or look at projects you have already started working on and read them. Study how you write, try to spot the mistakes and what you don’t like. All this, all the errors and things that irk you as a reader, you have to be conscious to not do them as a writer. You have to write well, it’s very important. Now, I don’t mean that you have to know how to write like a great writer from the start, no, that comes with experience and trials and errors.

No, what I mean is that you have to at least be able to make as little vocabulary and grammatical mistakes as possible, and to make your sentences as clear and coherent as possible. They don’t have to be complicated or a high level of english, you can write very well and very simply, but you do have to write with a minimum quality if you want people to read you. Unfortunately, living in France, means that I am aware of the Skyblog community, a blog creation website by the french radio Skyrock. This, if you ever have some time to go take a look around, is mainly populated by teenagers and is a very clear example of bad writing, especially in amateur fan fiction writing.

As proof here is a quote from an interview about Skyblogs : “My eyes! They’re burning!” – French reader who made the mistake of going to take a look at some of the fan fiction skyblogs.

So, yeah, write well, even if it’s not advanced vocabulary you can still make an effort. I don’t pretend to have a strong level in english vocabulary but I do try to make my stories as easily readable and as agreeable to read as possible.

3 – Write the main ideas of your story (but also the little details) down on paper (or on a .word document, as you prefer)

Just as the title says. Write. It. Down. But not in its complete form yet. Write all your ideas, all the little details, every scene that you can picture in your head, try to put it in words, even if it’s not exactly what you think or it’s not well written, put it in words. Also, try to write a detailed summary of the plot of your story with the storyline in order, it helps a lot. Write descriptions of your characters, of the places, of the events that have happened, are happening or will happen.

Writing down your ideas is very important to ensure that you won’t forget them, but it also helps precise them and to make the order of important events in your story more clear. It also give you a reference of what you want to achieve and what you have already achieved. Plus, when you come back to it after some time you can see how far you have advanced, how much progress you’ve made.

Making notes is something I often neglect to do, I try to do it more nowadays but I still find myself not doing it, though I should because it helps putting some order into my mass of scrambled thoughts and ideas. It is really helpful, I swear. It also helps putting a timeline on the story, and that’s important in my opinion. You have to know how things are going to play out before getting into the details. Now, these details are very important too, it is these details that often give a real life-like feeling and depth to the story, so if you have any good idea that seems not really important at the time or that concerns something that appears insignificant, don’t think and write it down, it will be useful later, one way or another.

Another advantage of writing down the ideas is that it makes you practice your writing and it helps you see how you want to write your story in a more detailed way.


Okay, I think that this is all I have to offer for now. If you can manage to do that before even starting to write the first chapters of your story than it is awesome, it will help you make it more clear and greatly facilitate the moment you really get into writing. I know because it helped me when I tried doing that.

Now, this is, of course, not all I have to tell you people, I have some other advice I want to give you, but for now I’ll stop here because it’s getting late, my fingers hurt and I’m getting hungry. I’ll come back later for the second part of my tips and tricks to writing. Next time : what to do to start writing a story?

I hope it helped you and that you enjoyed reading this ’till the end (if you did I assume you at least found it interesting if not enjoyable) and I thank you for doing so. If you have anything to add or to comment, don’t hesitate!

I’ll see you later, dear reader!