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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tip Thursday: Tips from the Masters


Writing Tips

1. Cut the boring parts
I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard
In other words, write what your readers want to read. If it's boring, cut it.  That's why beta readers and CP are so important.  They'll let you know if it's boring.  If enough of them concur, then you might want to cut it.  

2. Eliminate unnecessary words
Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain
Very, really, et cetera are qualifiers that don't make your writing stronger, they make them weaker.  More often than not, you don't need them.

3. Write with passion
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth
This is actually one of my favorite quotes and I don't think needs any more explanation.  

4. Paint a picture
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov
A perfect example of show vs tell. And also a great imagery tool. 

5. Keep it simple
Vigorous writing is concise. ~William Strunk Jr.
This goes back to point one.  If it's concise, it's probably not boring, since it's not probably not long and drawn out.

6. Do it for love
Write without pay until somebody offers to pay. ~Mark Twain
Another favorite quote of mine.  Most writers couldn't stop writing if we wanted to, so I don't even think we should have this on the list.  ;)

7. Learn to thrive on criticism
You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance. ~Ray Bradbury
Writing feels like part of our soul by the time we're finished with it. So rejection can be hard and acceptance can sometimes be even harder. We just have to remember that our writing is not ourselves.

8. Write all the time

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed. ~Ray Bradbury
The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything. ~John Irving
Need I say more?
9. Write what you know … or what you want to know
If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Learn as much by writing as by reading. ~Lord Acton
When a reader starts a book they want to be able to trust the author to tell a good story.  If they can't trust you, they won't read.  So make sure to get the simple things correct.  :D

10. Be unique and unpredictable
I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. ~G.K. Chesterton
Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. ~Oscar Wilde
Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto. ~Ray Bradbury
List assembled by