Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Writing


WRITING is a demanding profession but at the same time it is an enormously gratifying one. Nothing compares to seeing your name in print that first time. There are some things, as a beginning writer, you must learn and learn well.

Typwriterslady-croppedFirst, the most important piece of writing advice I can give you is to write every single day. Re-read that sentence then do it. Set aside a particular time of day or night to write and then every single day write during that allotted time. Some days the words will flow so fast you’ll hardly have time to get them down on paper. Other days you’ll have to pull them out of your brain one letter at a time. Don’t worry. Just write. Try your best each and every day. The words will come.

Cat-put me in your bookAs a writer you must “make” time to write. If you wait until you “find” time, you will never find it. You have to “make” the time to write. It’s even harder if you have a day job that demands eight hours of your time each day. It is difficult then to come home and make time to write but it’s exactly what has to be done. Make the time if you intend to be successful in your writing career.

Second, read. That’s the second most important piece of advice. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Read something in every genre. When you find a book you particular enjoy reading, go back and re-read it a second or third time. Look at how the author handled the problems associated with telling his story. See how the story was constructed. Analyze the story from beginning to end.

Third, develop your characters from people you know. You will find yourself blending bits and pieces from different people to make a character. People are a rich mine field of loves, hates, joys, sorrows, hopes and fears. Use them all.

Fourth, fiction is the tale of a character (protagonist) struggling to solve a problem. Make that character (the protagonist) as strong as you can since your reader identifies with that character. As strong as your character is, you must also give him/her a fatal flaw. A fatal flaw is an internal problem, something within their soul. Now you need to take that internal problem and place it right smack dab in the middle of his/her conflict with the antagonist. By resolving the conflict, the protagonist also resolves his/her internal problem.

Fifth, keep in mind there are no villains. That’s right. There are no bad guys. Even the bad guys/girls believe in what they’re doing. They simply see the world through their own viewpoint. No one sets out with the intentions of doing something evil. Sure, you have bad behaviors but each person believes what he/she is doing is right.

Sixth, you must hook your reader with your first sentence, your first paragraph, your first page. How do you hook them? Start in the middle of the story! Don’t waste your readers time by trying to explain how your character got him/herself into the problem to begin with. Instead, show them already in the problem trying to get out. You can fill in the background later. Jump into the middle of the action and keep going.

Seventh, link those problems together. By this I mean, you start out with a problem that your hero/heroine is trying to solve. Before they solve that problem you must give them at least two more problems to solve. Each time one problem gets solved, there should be two more already presented. At the end of the story, all those major problems you’ve given your character must be resolved.

Eighth, don’t forget the senses. Use all five of the senses and your scenes will be more alive. Here’s a little trick I was taught years ago. Take your manuscript and in the side margins write what senses you used for each paragraph. Now, go back and add in another sense.

Coffee CupNinth, pay attention to point of view. Whose eyes are you seeing the scene through? Should you tell it in first person or third? If you shift from one character’s point of view to another’s make sure your reader understands you are changing the point of view character and doesn’t get confused.

Learn these things and learn them well and you’ll be on your way to a successful writing career.