1. tolintino
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    tolintino New Member

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    Essential Advice for Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by tolintino, Jul 28, 2016.

    The most helpful advice I received came from a professor in college. I was working as a reporter for the school newspaper, and he said that I should use verbs that require an object. Active verbs make the story better to read.

    In addition, he said my writing style should be economical since a story can only take up so much space. Prioritizing information is key. Essentially, active verbs and prioritizing information are essential for a journalist. These rules can also be applied to writing fiction. What helpful advice have you received as a writer?
     
  2. Midnight_Adventurer
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    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    The advice he gave you will ensure that your writing is clear and concise, however don't skimp on details, they're needed to flesh out your stories and characters. The most useful advice I have received is very simple and something most writers should already know.
    Your first draft will be shit, just get your story out and then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!
    For reasons beyond my understanding I am a perfectionist when it comes to my writing, I want it to be perfect the first time round. In no other aspect of my life am I like this and I think I need to have this advice painted across my walls, because I seldom follow it and I know I should otherwise I'll never finish a story. None-the-less, if a newbie writer asked me for one tip that would be it :agreed:
     
  3. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Find a story you love and make it your own.

    (that seems innocent, but it actually teaches you how to write).
     
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  4. U.G. Ridley
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    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    The most helpful advice I ever received has basically become my motto.

    "Read a lot, write a lot."

    As someone who got stuck in long periods where I didn't write at all because I thought I had to find the "secret" to writing before I could start, this really was a good slap in the face.
     
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  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    1. Ignore advice from anyone whose writing goals are not very close to your own. For example, if you want to write like Cormac McCarthy, ignore advice from someone who wants to write like Elmore Leonard.

    2. Ignore advice that is far too specific. For example, "Never use adverbs. Never use semicolons. Stick obsessively to three-act structure." Etc.

    3. Ignore advice from people who don't know what they're talking about. For example, "Show, don't tell." Most people don't even know what showing and telling are. They think they do, but they don't. Or, "Avoid Mary Sues." Most people don't have a clear idea what a Mary Sue really is, or why she's a "bad" kind of character.

    4. Just generally ignore advice. It tends to tighten your writing muscles into knots and keeps you from getting anything written. It can also make your writing experience pretty excruciating.

    ;)
     
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  6. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Have to add some little piece to the fourth point of @minstrel :

    Ignore advice until you have an inkling of what the heck you are doing - and how to separate good advice from bad :)
     
  7. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    Give up television for a while or limit it.
    Read a lot of books
    if your story is predictable then change something.

    Those were the best words of wisdom i received.
     
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  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) Open your mind to the possibility that your writing has deep, deep flaws and that you have lots to learn. Embrace humility.
    2) But remember that you and only you are the final judge of how the things that you learn should apply to your own writing.
    3) One application of this is that when someone tells you "this doesn't work" they're probably right. When they tell you "this is how you should fix it" they're far more likely to be wrong, at least in anything beyond SPAG.

    Edited to add: And, yes, this applies to me, when I give in to the temptation to rewrite somebody's piece in the Review Room. I always intend my edits to be a way of highlighting "this doesn't work" rather than telling anyone how to fix what's wrong. Even when I forget to say that. And even when I'm convinced, in an enthusiastic moment, that I do know how to fix it. :)
     
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  9. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    This is really wonderful advice. I don't watch TV, haven't for a while.

    What I stopped doing that helped me to be more productive as a writer was deleting my social media accounts (Facebook).
     
  10. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    It was hard for me, but I limited tv to 1 or 2 madmen episodes a week. I was amazed to find how many words I could write in one day.
     
  11. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    It's really an incredible feeling. I read so much more, which makes me more inclined to write. Recently I've had a bit of a dry spell but that's probably due to some outside factors. It feels good to not watch TV or use much social media.
     
  12. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Movies and TV shows helped me just as much as literature.
     
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  13. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't even know what this means.
     
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  14. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you haven't found any disagreements in the advice that you've collected, then you haven't collected enough advice yet. Keep looking for more until they start disagreeing :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
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  15. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I scrolled down to write exactly the same thing. :p Can someone give examples?

    I don't know what's the best advice I've had. I agree with @Lifeline that you shouldn't read advice articles or how-to-write books until you know what you're doing, by which time you can see how crap and flawed they are.
     
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  16. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I disagree with some of these suggestions .. to a point.
    I'd say read as many guides to how to write fiction as you can. Learn enough to understand the rules. Why they exist. Learn the purpose behind the rules. After you're done with that, cross out "rules" and consider them "guidelines."
    Until you understand why 1000 writing guides tell you the same "rule", you won't know when it's appropriate to break them.

    I haven't watched more than 10 hours of TV in the past year. Even less the year before.
     
  17. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    I guess it depends on what you write. For me it doesn't help because i'm not reading anything that I could later put to use, whether its writing style or the way an author uses a word or something. Movie and tv take away time that I could have spent writing.
     
  18. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    1. Start before you're ready.
    2. Don't confuse the reader.
    3. Don't burden the reader too much.
    4. Write imaginatively.
    5. Edit ruthlessly.
    6. Come back to it later. (A passage can seem wonderful when you write it, but after a few days, when you look over it, you may think, 'what on earth possessed me to write this?')
    7. Read it out aloud quickly. If you find yourself stumbling over the worlds, you probably need to choose some different ones.
    8. Take other people's comments seriously. Then fix the text until no one can find any faults with it.
     
  19. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I don't own a tv. True you can just about watch anything online, but I'm never sitting down in front of the television. I enjoy reading over watching. Getting rid of my tv turned out to be better for my writing than I thought it would. Very glad I did it.
     
  20. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I'm a little confused by the first bit of advice. It sounds like you may have been having some issues with sentence structure. But glad it helped. As a few other people have said, it would be great if you could explain this a little more. It might then also help someone here.

    As for the additional advice, newspaper writing is very different than other writing. It's also changed a lot. I've seen the inverted pyramid come and go out of style. It used to be you needed the who, what, when, where and why needed to be in the lead. It still needs to be there, but it's not always in the first line. You usually will still find the nut graf (usually the second paragraph but sometimes a few short paragraphs down). Long-form journalism and more narrative approaches have changed news writing. The reason it used to be important to prioritize was so that editors could basically cut from the bottom and the story word still work. It's kind of a dated way of thinking. This was before everything was online, which eliminated space problems. And styles change. Still, you want to write well. It doesn't hurt to be economical in any form of writing. Was that the piece you took away for your fiction writing?
     
  21. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know if it was the most helpful, but it's right up there...

    Write for an audience of one. Pick someone you're telling the story to and write as if you're talking to them.

    What this did was it made me aware that I had to maintain comprehensibility and engagement with every word I wrote. It's made me go cross-eyed from time to time, and put me to sleep more than once, but in the end, it really made a difference for me.
     

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