Writing Tip of the Day

January 2, 2016:
Your Best Thinking Time
Make a conscious effort to pinpoint your best “thinking time,” and make good use of it. For some, it’s those first moments of wakefulness, or after that first cup of coffee. For others, it may be while taking a walk or relaxing in a favorite chair with soft background music. For me, with lively little ones in the house, my best thinking time is during my kids’ TV time, nap-time, or when I lie down to go to bed. If I’m not too tired, I let my mind play with new “what ifs” as new story scenarios flicker through my mind. Wherever you’re at when the ideas flow best, be sure you’re ready to save those story gems with pen and paper or some other recording method within arm’s reach.

August 22, 2013:
Use the Five Senses
Don’t neglect the five senses when writing fiction scenes. All too often, we easily fall into the habit of describing by sight or sound, forgetting there are three other very effective senses at our disposal: touch, smell, and taste. Readers will relate to these senses and will love the variety. Make your writing come alive by using these oft-neglected yet vivid senses in your next scene.

August 1, 2012:
Include Conflict In Your Writing
While you may not like conflict in your own life, conflict is essential in the life of your main character. Without conflict of some kind, there won’t be much of a story. Conflict comes in many forms, though, and doesn’t mean you have to throw in dramatic arguments and accidents in every scene. Sometimes, conflict is more subtle; it can come from within: an internal struggle to make an important decision, for example. Conflict keeps a story interesting and ever-changing, twisting and turning. Conflict causes obstacles that keep your protagonist from reaching his or her story goal, and this is a good thing, because once that goal is reached, the story is basically over.

July 17, 2012:
Best Beginnings
When writing the beginning of your story or novel, keep in mind that you only have a page or two at most (and sometimes only a sentence!) to grab the reader’s interest and keep them reading, so make your beginning the best it can be. Revise and polish, but above all, start with something interesting. Starting with some kind of a change in your main-character’s life is always a good idea, whether it’s a death, a move, or an accident–you want something that will create action, intrigue, and emotion.

July 12, 2012:
Time Does Tell
When you complete a writing project, set it aside (if time allows) for a week or longer and work on something else. This way, when you come back to the original project, you will be able to read it over with a fresh eye, enabling you to catch problem areas easier than if you hadn’t taken a break from the project.

July 11, 2012:
Use Exclamation Points Sparingly
Beware of using too many exclamation points in your writing! You lose effect when exclamation points are used all the time! Also, it becomes annoying to the readers and it feels as if the writer is constantly yelling at the reader! You may find as you write that you naturally are excited about your work and use a lot of exclamation points, but when you go back over your work to revise, be sure to weed these exclamation points out! If you leave them in, it is the mark of an amateur! As a general rule, exclamation points should be used like spices in cooking, well-chosen and not too many! Phew, aren’t you glad this tip of the day is now done?!!!

July 10, 2012:
What the Ears Hear
When you think your manuscript is finished and ready for submission, read it aloud to yourself or an audience (such as a spouse, friend, sibling, etc). You may be surprised at what you discover still needs revision. Your ears may pick up what your eyes missed on paper!

July 9, 2012:
Don’t Wait For Inspiration
If you want to be a productive writer, don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Instead, set a scheduled time to write, and stick with it. Effort wins over inspiration!

July 8, 2012:

“The first person you should think of pleasing, in writing a book, is yourself. ┬áIf you can amuse yourself for the length of time it takes to write a book, the publishers and the readers can and will come later.”
— Patricia Highsmith, Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction

Excellent advice by Patricia Highsmith as she begins Chapter One of Plotting And Writing Suspense Fiction, a gem of a book. Highly recommended for all serious writers of suspense! (And really, when you think about it, all books need suspense.)

July 7, 2012:

Write what you know,
research what you don’t,
and use your imagination for everything in-between . . .

July 6, 2012:

Make time not only to write, but to read. You can learn a lot about writing by reading others’ works, even without consciously “studying” the writing; you will gain valuable insight and begin to pick up techniques that can’t be learned any other way.

July 5, 2012:

You never know when an idea might strike, so a wise writer is always prepared with a way to quickly jot down ideas before they are lost forever. Whether in a notebook or a hand-held device of some kind, the important thing is to be ready for the unexpected. It is particularly useful to keep a notebook by your bed for when inspiration strikes in the middle of the night. Because believe me, no matter how hard you may try to recall the idea the next morning, it will have vanished with the dawn!

July 4, 2012:

Sit down and write. The writing doesn’t have to be great; it doesn’t even have to be particularly good, but the actual act of writing will do more to make you a true writer than anything else. A writer must write!

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