Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tips to Help Become a Better Writer, Part 2

Last week I talked about the need to read a lot, keep pen and paper handy, not waiting for motivation to strike you, and being observant.

Today, I've got three more tips.

Tip #5:  Get Organized
This actually can cover a wide range of areas when it comes to writing. One of the first things I think any writer should do is to organize the space you plan to use as your writing area. It helps having your writing material where you can easily find the things you need. (Keeping it organized is a blog for another day.)

I've got a desk in the bedroom where I do most of my writing, but when DH is ready to use the bedroom, I have to move. I'm not fond of our upstairs bedrooms, but I'm working on turning the "storage" bedroom into my office. The main thing I have to do is go through all the boxes that have accumulated up there and start getting rid of stuff. The trash and recycle guys are going to really love me in the next few weeks.

Another thing writers should do is somehow organize your writing. Everyone is different, so there are hundreds of ways to do this.

One of the things I've started doing to help me with the series I'm writing, is I've created a series notebook. I took a binder and added a pack of dividers. The first divider is labeled series information. In this section I've put my research and notes about the series itself. This section continues to grow as I add family trees, city maps, pictures of buildings, etc. The next divider is labeled Lisa's Bear, the title of my first book. I've got character charts, plot summaries, etc. in this section. The next divider has the name of the second book in the series, and it continues in that manner. It's not perfect, and it will continue to evolve, but for now it is a good place to start.

Tip #6: Use Outlines
I can hear the groans already. I realize not everyone likes or uses outlines, but to many of us, they are a lifesaver. If you do a computer search for outline templates/forms, you will come up with a variety of styles. Play with them until you find one or a combination that works for you. Outlines help me to stay on track.

Tip #7: Write More
The only way to become a better writer is to write, write, write. The more you write the faster you get, and the better you get at it as you learn from your mistakes and learn new techniques.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Tips to Help Become a Better Writer

I'm constantly looking for tips and methods to improve my writing. Over the years I've read various books and blogs on the subject, and I've tried, at some point, almost everything I've read about. Of course, there were a few tips that caused me to raise my eyebrows and ask, "Are you for real?"

What works for one person may not work for another.

Over the years, the tips and methods I've picked up have evolved and changed as I've added to them, and dropped the ones that are no longer working for me.

Here are some of my tips:

Tip #1: Read Everything!!!
"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." 
--Stephen King
I love this quote, and it's the truth. Writers must make the time to read. They need to read in the genre they write, but they need to read everything else too. Exposure to different genres and writing styles is a good thing because you get to see what works and what doesn't.

Tip #2: Keep a pen and notebook handy.
I never leave the house without my pen and notebook. Sometimes I jot down a description  of something I've seen or a piece of conversation I've overheard. Most times what I scribble down has to do with the story I'm working on.

Tip #3: Don't wait for motivation, chase it down.
If writers only wrote when they were motivated, there would be 100s of 1000s less books out there to read. There are a lot of days I'm not motivated to write. Life is going on around me. So, I have to sit down and force the words out. Sometimes what I've written is usable, sometimes it's not, but I've got something on paper to work with and that's what counts.

Tip #4: Be an observer.
Watch what's going on around you and take notes. Part of the notebook I talked about earlier has nothing but stuff I've jotted down--things I've observed. I may or may not use them, but they may inspire something later on.

What are some of the tip that have worked for you to improve your writing?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Juggling Writing Time

Authors set rules about their writing time that they follow because this is how they get their writing done. Let's face it. We have a lot of things going on in our lives besides writing. We have families, jobs, chores, emergencies that pop up, just to name a few. Obviously, I could go on and on with the list and not even put a dent in the surface.

Barbara O'Neal in her article B.I.C. (Bum in Chair) at talks about this very topic. Her take on it is interesting and the comments from others are just as interesting too. Ms. O'Neal, at the end of her article, poses three questions to the audience: What gets in your way? Where does your discipline falter? What are your best writing times?

What gets in the way of my writing?
  • day job
  • family
  • household chores
  • extended family issues
  • friends
  • Internet
  • sleep
Most of these things can't be helped or changed. I just have to deal with them and work my writing time around them, but things like my Internet time can be changed. Flexibility is the key.

Where does my discipline falter?

My goal is to write between 500 and 1000 words daily. Are there days this doesn't happen? Yes. Family comes first. That's just the way it has to be. And then there's the day job, but we need the money for things like food and electricity. Some days are not as crazy as others and I can slip in a couple of hours of writing, but then there are the days I go home and take a nap before I even start supper or anything else. On days like that writing gets pushed down on the to-do list.

What are your best writing times?
  • weekends
  • night after everyone is in bed
  • lunchtime
There are a lot of weekends I get the house to myself for a few hours, and i cram as much writing into that time as I possibly can. Late night, after everyone hass gone to bed is another good time for me to write--as long as I don't fall asleep over my writing. During my lunch, I try writing blogs.

I, like many of you, dream of the day when I don't have to go to the day job because my writing is supporting me. But until that happens, I'll continue the juggling act, and grab writing time when I can.

We all wear many different hats and more often than not we wear them at the same time, forcing us into the juggling routine.

What does your juggling routine look like?

Monday, June 3, 2013


Browse the electronic bookshelf of any ebook supplier on any given day and you will find dozens of novellas. With the advent of ebook readers, the popularity of the novellas is on the rise.

A novella is a literary form that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. The length of a
novella falls somewhere between 20,000 to 40,000 words or 60 to 120 pages.

Typically a novella can be read in one of two sittings. This makes them a good choice for our fast-paced lifestyles.

The art of writing novellas has been practiced for centuries. Here are just a few, in no particular order:
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
  • Strange Case of D. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Billy Budd by Herman Melville
  • The Body by Stephen King