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BRAINSTORM

Image by Bia Andrade

WRITING Tips

DO

  • Write character-based fiction

    • Characters drive plot, not the other way around​

  • Have a plot

    • Make your character want something and follow them through the decisions they make to get it.

  • Create conflict

    • What stops your character from getting the thing they want?​

  • Give your characters flaws

  • Use the active voice

    • e.g., never use "was walking" when you can use "walked"​

  • Understand Point of View

    • Your characters can only know what the POV allows them to know​

  • Communicate through images

    • Sights, sounds, scents, textures, and tastes make up the world. They should make up your stories too.

  • Treat your audience with respect

  • Give the reader everything they need to experience the story you want to tell

  • Call yourself a writer

    • Are you writing? Then you're a writer.​

Don't

  • Think that there are any unbreakable writing rules

    • Art is made up of broken rules​

  • Leave your character the same at the end as they were at the beginning

  • Use adverbs (and be very measured in your use of adjectives)

  • Write about things you know nothing about

    • "Write what you know" is a cliché for a reason, but it should really be "Know what you write"​

  • Preach

    • The experience of the story​ should be primary, not the "message" (which is not to say you can't deal with real world issues within the story)​

  • Tell stories that don't excite you

    • If they don't excite you, they definitely won't excite your readers​

  • Hide information from the reader that would be obvious to the character(s)

  • Treat your audience with disdain

  • Use a single word more than necessary

    • One of the most important acts during revision is to cut every word that doesn't absolutely need to be there​

  • Look to anyone/anything but yourself for validation

    • Even the thrill of publication or winning awards is fleeting, so find joy in the work​

 
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SOCIAL

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Instagram

Visual Writing Prompts, Writing Advice

  • Instagram
 
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RECOMMENDATIONS

Image by Bia Andrade

CRAFT BOOKS

My feeling is that you should always take craft book recommendations with caution and a grain of salt. At their best, craft books give you the jolt you need to write and the right level of guidance to improve. But be careful not to think that any craft book (or all of them) has the secret code to make you a successful writer. That craft book doesn't exist and the search for it will keep you from doing what you really need to do to succeed: Write.

 

That said, the following books have all provided me with helpful guidance and inspiration. They also all come at the work of writing from a different perspective, so if one doesn't work for you, try another. Just don't forget to write.

All books on this site are linked to bookshop.org when possible. Their mission is to "financially support independent bookstores," so if you can't buy or order from your local bookstore, they are a good site to support. (Full disclosure: I have an affiliate account with them because I believe in their mission.)