Top Five Writing Tips I’ve Learned

I’ve read a lot of writing books this past year and I’ve been learning a lot. In the past few weeks I’ve been tearing through Chuck Wendig’s books. They’re cheap, incredibly entertaining and quick reads (if you don’t mind some dirty language!). I think all five of these can be directly attributed to him:

5.  Avoid flowery “purple” prose. Don’t use big SAT words. Keep it simple, stupid. The point of a sentence is to be concise and easy to read, not to impress people with your thesaurus skills.

4.  Remove passive tense. Always have the action performed by the noun. I’ve been using passive to describe pre-existing actions but I’m trying to kill that now.

3.  Cut unnecessary words. Read a sentence you’ve written. Can you remove words and keep the sentence functioning? Then cut them!

2.  You’re going to rewrite! This was a hard truth for me to accept. I thought writing was a) intense planning, b) writing the final product, c) fixing typos. I had it in my mind that pre-planning everything out in my head would erase any mistakes. But no plan survives contact with the enemy. You’re going to have to do edits. Rewrites. Fixes. Sometimes even throw out sections and start anew. Entire new scenes will need to be added. It’s all part of the process.

1. You’re allowed to write bad. This is the top reason I put off writing for years. To my mind, I had to get it perfect the first time through or else it would be permanently flawed. And what happened because of that attitude? I stopped writing. You have to write; even if it’s bad. You’ll fix it in the edits. But if you fall out of the habit of writing, you’ll never get back to it.

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