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  1. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    New to Writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lord Malum, May 12, 2011.

    So I'm noticing a bit of new writers looking for tips so they start their own thread. I figured why not make a thread specificly for new writers. If a new writer would like a crash course in writing he/she could find all sorts of tips here instead of jumping from thread to thread.

    Got tips or advice? Post it here!
     
  2. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Read.

    Thread over. What do I win?
     
  3. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    There's a lot more to it than just reading, though I will give you that's one of the most important things.
     
  4. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    1) Rough drafts are coined that for one reason: They are rough. Don't worry about trying to have the most delightful prose on the first try, or prose with any delight in it at all. Let your first draft be terrible with the ultimate goal of getting everything down on paper. The first/rough draft is a race to the finish line. Get to the end of the story by any means necessary. Skip scenes that are giving you trouble, and don't worry about how bad it's turning out. Hindsight is 20/20, you can come back to everything and fix it later.

    2) Re-write. Once you have a finished rough draft, start over from the beginning. You can peek at your rough draft to guide you (and you can steal ideas that came out well the first time), but start with a blank document/piece of paper. Everything will come out better the second time. Still not Faulkner, but that's okay.

    3) Print out your story and read through it. Mark any changes.

    4) Repeat steps #2-#3
     
  5. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    There's really not much more to it for a new writer (whatever that exactly means). If someone wakes up one day, figures they'll do a google search for writing forums, because they want to start writing and want some pro tips. My advice is to read. The end. Sure, it's a bit of a test too, as if a new writer isn't ready to read, then they may as well not even bother.

    It's ironic, perhaps, but the biggest mistake a new writer makes is thinking they should start writing. And if a writer has been reading, and is really ready to write, then they aren't a new writer, nor do they usually ask the 'I'm a new writer, what do I do' questions.

    See how perfect it is. Reading really is the answer. :)
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Take your time, and lose the notion that there are shortcuts.

    Read, read, and read some more.
    Write, write, and write some more.
    Be ruthlessly critical of what you write, but be unfailingly respectful toward yourself. Believe that you will improve with time and hard work.
    Cultivate your patience.
     
  7. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    I'm not a seasoned professional by any means, but I have been writing for a while (mainly for myself though LOL). My advice, for what it's worth? Hmmmm

    Read a LOT, write a LOT, don't be afraid to just dive into a story (don't feel like you're not "ready" to write a story, you can only learn by doing), hammer your ideas out on paper, outline your story and character ideas, revise revise revise, have others read your stuff and provide feedback, rinse and repeat :D
     
  8. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    Step #1 -- Learn to read like a writer.

    See this book:
    "Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them" by Francine Prose
    ISBN-10: 0060777044
     
  9. Liza
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    Liza Active Member

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    I've been writing for three or four years, do I count?

    Reading's a big part of it all. I just always assumed that writers always start out as readers.
    Also, being 100% sure of your idea. Trying to write as best you can and writing for yourself.
    And, my favorite, not being too eager to try and publish your books. If you aren't entirely happy with your work, why send it out? Especially if it does get published.
     
  10. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    You'd be surprised. I've had the pleasure of working with many beginning writers, often freshman who already have a novel or two 'done' and it's amazing how little many of them have read, and how the first thing they start shamming are the reading assignments in class.

    I like the rest of your advice. Reminds me of something that I was told early: never be afraid to take yourself seriously.
     
  11. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Blanket assumptions are nothing but trouble. Whenever I read something, I'm less likely to do writing of my own because immersing myself in someone else's fantasy removes me from my own. Lessened interest in what I'm writing... doesn't work out so well.

    So no, reading is really not the answer in all cases. Tell this to a new writer whose mind operates like mine, and you'll only serve to frustrate him should he take this advice.
     
  12. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    So, what's your advice, to not read? To stop reading while you're writing? Sorry to break it to you, but any writer with any chance of making it as a writer must learn to read and write. If reading makes you not want to write, then, umm, not sure what to tell you but perhaps it's a personal problem you might want to work out. I've never heard of a single successful writer who simply stopped reading while they were writing. They do them both, usually daily, usually to the point where if they're in a funk with their writing they specifically read to get their mojo back.

    It reminds me of the people that get depressed when they read high quality writing, so simply avoid it. Sorry, but it needs to be the other way around. Not being motivated to write if you're reading, or getting down when you read something great, are both really bad signs. The faster a writer gets over it, the better. And I've personally found/see the best way to do this is to start out reading copiously and then for a young writer to add in writing as they learn and see quality examples and start thinking about what kind of stories they like and how they want to write, etc.

    Reading is practice for writing. You don't stop practicing just because the season starts and it's game time. You might practice differently, or a bit less, or take a few more days off to rest, but you don't stop. And yes, with sports too, I've heard BS arguments about how practice just messes with game-time flow, blah blah, it's BS. Professionals practice hard, and don't stop just because real games start up. Professionals read, and don't stop just because they have something to write. And if you ever want to be a profession, you have to start practicing like one.

    Or, just do whatever, I mean it's all just so personal and subjective anyway, right.
     
  13. Bright Shadow
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    Bright Shadow Member

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    Read, read and when you're done with that, read some more.

    Or, better yet, do what I did: refuse to watch television or movies. That way, you FORCE yourself to read if you want to be entertained.

    Also, don't try to find time to write. No, that's impossible. What you should do is MAKE time to write. Work writing into your schedule, along with chores and work and all that.

    Also, make sure to find some other writers and share your work, either online or in person. Everyone has blind spots and it takes others to spot them.


    But, the biggest piece of advice, that was given to me by R.A. Salvatore when I met him at a convention...DON'T GIVE UP. If you really, REALLY want to be a writer, keep at it. You're never a failure until you either die or you give up. I've read about SO many people who give up on getting published after they get ten rejection letters. When I'm at the "send it out" stage, if EVERY AGENT in the USA rejects me, I'll just suck it up and write something else AND send it out to agents in Britain and Canada.

    Granted, I'll keep my day job and keep going to school to be a mechanic (cars and books, my two passions in life) but I don't think I'll ever quit. I wanted to be a writers since I was nine years old, and it is something I can't give up on.
     
  14. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree, I've never understood this mentality.

    I've always been spurned on to write or play music because of 'the greats'. Nothing drives me more than that.
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it's fair to assume that just because someone is new to writing doesn't mean they're new to reading. Maybe they have read their entire life and now they want to start writing themselves. Telling them to just keep reading and nothing else isn't the most complete advice (but I might have misinterpreted your words?) then, there's nothing saying that they shouldn't KEEP reading while writing. maybe they just need some practical advices to how to get started on writing that story they have in their minds. I'd say just start writing and keep writing without expecting much from the first draft/first attempt as for quality. write every day , even if just a little, important is to make it a habit. make it a habit to take notes of ideas that comes to your mind while writing or doping something élse.
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There goes one, now.
     
  17. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    @ Tesoro- I don't believe Pops was assuming anything. The way I read it he was saying that the most important tool a writer has is reading. That if you are not an avid reader you are probably not ready to write yet so you should jump on the reading wagon. If you already DO read a lot then you aren't really a "new writer" because you should already have learned many of the basics of writing from what you have read. I think he's right in that most people who are avid readers don't usually post the "what do I do?" questions, because they already have a fairly good idea. From reading.

    @EdfromNY- LOL :D
     
  18. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    My advice to a new writer on this site: Don't argue with popsicledeath, he'll kill you with words.
     
  19. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    This precisely. Clearly reading works for you, and most people here, but I have had nothing but negative results from this advice. There's also the simple fact that when I read, I don't absorb anything except for the story. Sure, I can appreciate an author's style like anyone else, but I don't really pay attention to it. I find it much less interesting than the story that's being told, and quite frankly, I don't care to copy the ways someone else weaves words. I found my voice about two years ago, and the best way I've found to improve it is to use it. Find out what works and what doesn't by actually trying it. I consider this to be practice for writing and infinitely more helpful than observing another person's results.

    It's no great tragedy for me, since I'm not even interested in about 90% of the books I find. I read between two and five books a year. This means my weakness, as you see it, doesn't affect me so much. I also get the added satisfaction of knowing that every improvement to my style that I make, as well as most of the ideas I come up with, comes entirely from my own mind. My stories are my own, undiluted with the efforts of others... I can hear some talking about how silly that is right now. :rolleyes:

    Anyway, I'm rambling. Point is, I don't believe reading to be such a vital aspect of writing--not in my case, at the very least--and nothing anyone says will be able to convince me otherwise. I don't care if you consider my little issue a problem or a weakness. I seem to be getting along just fine. But if you do see fit to try to convince me that my ways are wrong, consider the possibility that I understand what does and doesn't work for me a hundred times better than you possibly could, and that overlooking that tiny detail will not yield satisfactory results.

    (Hmm... Sounds a bit confrontational. But I don't have time to rewrite all this.)
     
  20. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I mentioned already how someone who's read their entire life (like really read, not just opened books to look cool, were that possible), already has an idea what to do. Any initial, practical advice they'd need has been in all the books they've been reading. ;)

    If you've been reading for years, you aren't a new writer. The things one reads is writing, after all.
     
  21. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    The day I have to force my self to read will be the same day you look out the window and see flying pigs. :p

    I have always preferred the book over the movie because I draw a very different picture in my head. I also hate when directors cut stuff out which makes the plot not work any more. :(

    I do hate waiting for a sequel to one of my favorite books and really hate it when my favorite genera are not popular but I will read a murder mystery if that is what is in right now. They are just not my cup of tea. I am reading James Patterson right now and they are well written and fun. I would rather be reading a Rowling or a Stephenie Myer book though.
     
  22. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Not sure if this is :) or :confused: but I'll take it as a compliment.

    There are people who have learned a few things and actually care about the random strangers in the world who want to be writers. It's usually more from a dedication and respect for writing and writers, not necessarily an affinity for having to deal with random writers, but comes from a place of having experienced the early lessons (and sometimes more), and wanting to help other young writers avoid them.

    It's tough, especially with writing that is something often highly personal as well as requiring a high degree of professionalism, often being one of the most difficult things a person can dedicate their lives to personally, as well as being one of the most professionally competitive fields.

    Yet, there are people in the world who don't get paid very much to teach younger generations, and even people on sites like this, like mammamaia, who dedicate their lives to little more than helping writers and building respect for writing. And there's a reason she has 'mama' in her username, as is often the case, people like her aren't offering advice just because they like hearing themselves talk or are obsessed with being right, but because they've actually learned things and care about teaching those things to young writers, helping young writers achieve what is usually their personal dream in what is professionally one of the most competitive fields.

    I guess my point is that I'm never arguing with individuals just to argue and never give my opinion just because I think the fact I have one automatically makes it right. My respect and dedication for writing goes deeper than that.
     
  23. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I still have to kindly disagree with both of you. :rolleyes: I don't think you can say someone who knows how to read automatically knows how to write stories. Most people read to some extent, but not all of them are good writers. it's like saying someone who has been watching horse races all their life automatically knows how to get up on a horse and participate in a race... or a showjumping contest. Writing is a craft like many others and you have to learn it by practising. of course, reading a lot gives you a good tool but practise is the most important part I think. practise and patience.
     
  24. Nightshade
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    Nightshade Senior Member

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    I think the best advice you can give a new writer is to do what feels right to them at the time. Yes it's good to read a lot anyway, and when trying to hone new skills but you have to produce your work at a pace, in an environment, and under influences which suit you and your methods.
    If I were to give advice based on methods which have worked for my productivity I'd say;

    1) Always carry a notebook and pen with you wherever you go.
    2) Write down any and all ideas you should have.
    3) Never throw away any ideas because you never know when you can incorperate them into something new or go back to them.
    4) If you're writing on a computer always make backups, preferably on a USB stick and keep it on you or in a safe place. If you carry it with you then you can access it whenever you're near a computer and the mood takes you.
    5) If you're in the middle of one project and get another idea for a new project then write down your new idea but don't start writing it until you finish the last one.
    6) If you're trying to make sense of a plot or timeline write down all the events you want/need to happen on post it notes, stick them up on a wall and link them with string and blu-tack in different orders to see what makes sense to you and makes the story flow in a natural way. This is just something I do when I'm having difficulty but it's fun and it works. Then if you cut anything out from the story you can save the note and use it elsewhere!
     
  25. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I would think you would have a good grasp of odds, betting, and a solid working knowledge of the best stables wouldn't you? You should also be aware of what a riding crop is, a saddle, stirrups, the track, which side to mount a horse from, which end is errr... up. lol. The point is you would learn the basics of horseflesh in the scenario, does that mean you won't get bit, kicked, or thrown? Nope. It is the same for writers. You most certainly should be able to gain a basic working knowledge of writing from reading. Does it mean you'll be great your first time out and have learned it all? Of course not. I don't personally think you can learn it all. There's no such thing. For the basics though I stand as stated.
     
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