Any aspiring writer needs to do three things – read extensively, learn the craft of writing, and write. Here is some of the awesome writing advice I have absorbed along the way:
- Create an opening that raises questions immediately and hints at the upcoming conflict.
- Start with an inciting incident, a crisis. Give your character a compelling conflict – internal or external.
- Make your character someone readers will want to be friends with – you want them rooting for her.
- You have to give your character a challenge – a dilemma to overcome. Then you need to stack the odds against her. And keep raising the stakes. What is stopping the character from getting what she wants?
- Give your character flaws. Give them a secret. Remember people lie to themselves. People often act, then think later.
- Submerse your lead character in trouble – at work, with family and friends, in love. You need their world to shatter.
- When you are working on what happens next, don’t go with the first thing that comes to mind. Continually wonder what else could happen so you surprise yourself – and the reader.
- A villain often has a goal that is in conflict with your heroine. But they also need to have some redeeming qualities.
- Memorable characters are those with quirks. Make them larger than life.
- Use a new paragraph to indicate a new speaker.
- Dialogue is the best way to reveal character.
- Don’t write dialogue word for word how it would unfold in real life, leave out the boring bits.
- Any time body language can take the place of dialogue, let it.
- Speed up the pace through dialogue, slow it down through narrative.
- If someone needs to read a sentence twice to understand it, rework the sentence.
- Your beginning must hook them in, your middle must hold attention, and your ending must satisfy.
- Show, don’t tell. Use action, thoughts, feelings, senses. Think visually.
- Readers need to experience the world through all five senses of the characters.
- Make sure the reader can follow how much time has elapsed between scenes.
- Anchor each scene in a physical space.
- Don’t leave any subplots unresolved.
- End a chapter with a cliffhanger or tension so the reader has to turn the page.
- At the heart of tension is unmet desire.
- Clues work best when readers don’t notice them at the time but remember them later.
- As the climax nears, increase the pace.
- Don’t leave your ending until last. You need to know where your story and characters are going.
‘Good stories are not written: they are rewritten.’ – Maeve Binchy
‘The first draft of anything is shit.’ – Ernest Hemingway