Top 5 Tips to Improve Your Writing.
Most writer’s celebrate the completion of their first draft.
It’s wonderful to see writers toast themselves with their favourite tipple and post photos on social media. Finally, the masterpiece is complete! Sadly the euphoria is short lived as harsh reality becomes a bitter pill to swallow.
NOW the REAL WORK begins. ‘Completing’ the story is only the beginning of a long journey in a writer’s life. It’s not called ‘rework’ for nothing! Here’s a few tips to help tighten up your language, maintain the pace of your story and drive the plot forward. I’m a culprit of all these wayward writer drawbacks too! I’m learning more all the time.
Here are the top five tips I’ve learned so far:
- Remove redundant words (that, just, very, rather, like, really, actually, etc.)
- Minimise adverbs and adjectives and never put words together with the same meaning.
Example: confusion and doubt, or clear and succinct.
Delete one or the other word in each pair. Apply stringently across all documents.
- Tell the story from your main protagonist’s point of view (POV). This is a comfortable way of placing your reader inside your character’s head. Be careful, don’t delve into the thoughts and backstory of every character in your book, or it will lead to reader confusion. It’s acceptable to show the POV of one to four or five characters but don’t overdo it. You want to create empathy and understanding by using the thoughts and insights of the main protagonist creating empathy for your main character. You want your reader to love your main character, or at least identify with him/her, which will motivate them to read your book to the end.
- Timeline – often overlooked when you first start writing. I hide under the banner of contemporary fiction in the hope that readers realise my stories take place over the last 20 years. To some, 20 years is history! So, make sure you set a timeline. I tend to jump back and forth from the present, and then the characters past experiences to establish the backstory. WRONG. Well, it’s OK if not overused. Far smarter is to set a relevant timeline, and then include snippets of events that took place during the relevant time frame. One cunning trick is to use global news, celebrity scandal etc. to secure the time frame in your reader’s mind.
- Point 4 also applies to the setting. Ensure you establish early on (chapt 1 or 2) WHERE your characters are and use references to the environment now and again to reinforce any shifts in place or setting as the story progresses.
There’s a real benefit in writing, escaping to another place and time. Having the power to intrigue and resolve difficult issues while entertaining readers and challenging their preconceived ideas about your character’s mad, wild, crazy or delightful behavior is fun! Enjoy!
PS: If you would like to read the corrected and edited copy of my next new book, Duplicity, please consider joining the Beta Reading team and contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be added to the very helpful first readers list. THANKS