1. Rebel Yellow
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    Rebel Yellow Active Member

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    What are the things you wish you knew earler?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rebel Yellow, Apr 25, 2013.

    I think it's fair to assume that everyone on this forum started as a beginner and worked hard to improve their skills. Let's say you had a chance to turn back time to give one writing tip to your former self. What would it be?

    For my part, I would advise myself to build more tension in the earlier phase of my story.
     
  2. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    I'd tell myself "Edit your drafts as if they were someone else's and you didn't care how that author felt about your comments. Be ruthless."
     
  3. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Never use ly adverbs
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think I'd tell my young self to read his work aloud, and revise until he's proud of it.

    Really? That's way, way down the list. Probably completely off the list. I think they can be overused, especially in dialogue tags, but should they never be used? I just used three of them in the last two sentences. I don't believe you improve your writing by eliminating them entirely (there's another one!); it would be like writing a whole novel without using the letter "e." An interesting intellectual exercise, but pointless. Face it, blackstar, all good writers use ly adverbs.
     
  5. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    1. Write things in such a way that the reader can tell what's going on without you telling them outright.

    2. Only write a story if you can't stand the idea of not writing it.

    3. Don't beat yourself up. Everyone starts at the bottom and works their way up.
     
  6. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Everything I now know, and am learning about marketing.
     
  7. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    I use this advice for myself because it forces me to find the perfect words I need to accurately say what I want. In my experience, every time I sued them, it didn't improve the prose. It hindered it. The last time I ever used one was in a dialogue tag when a character was being sarcastic. "He said sarcastically."

    And yeah writers do use it, it's just the ones I really like barely use them. And yes, you caught me using an adverb. :(
     
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  8. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Mine would be to stop with excessive to-be verbs and "ly" adverbs.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Write more. A lot more. Whether inspired or not. I'd be better in a dozen dozen different ways if I'd just written more.
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Learn to recognise melodrama in my fiction, AND REMOVE IT!
     
  11. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    Good question.

    I'd tell myself to take an honest look at stories I'd written with the express purpose of being entertaining, and the practice stories or journal entries I'd written for fun.

    It took me a while to realize that my natural voice is actually more honest and entertaining than my forced one.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If I knew any of the points of the lessons earlier, I'd not as fully appreciate them. I'd have missed out on the learning process (which is far from over).
     
  13. Suffering-is-Beauty
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    Suffering-is-Beauty Member

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    I feel dumb for posting this, but I never gave ly much thought until now. I'm going to have to go back and check my work. see how often I used it.

    Patience would be what I would tell myself, and am still telling myself.
     
  14. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    That writing is time consuming, tedius, boring, and hard. Oh why did I start!?
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    THIS!

    Every bump and bruise along the way was necessary, and there are more to come. To borrow from the Sri Chinmoy folks: write and become, become and write.
     
  16. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    To get my act together and stop spending all my time smoking weed and hanging out in my friend's basement. Finally did, and still pretty young, but I think back on the years where I could have been writing and reading and learning instead and wince.
     
  17. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    You'd assume in the context of the question that part of knowing this 'whatever' earlier is appreciating and understanding it as if it were learned today after years of work (the learning process).
     
  18. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    If I could have told myself stay away from World of Warcraft and alcohol, I'd probably be able to speak six languages, do long sums, and have a house filled with my latest paintings. But, it was not to be... If anything this wasted time gave a me a lot of inspiration to draw on.

    For me it's marketing. All the stuff I'm learning about and have learnt about, if I had have known it earlier I think I'd be doing a lot better.
     
  19. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's another thing: Stay away from alcohol. It's insidious and it saps your life away.
     
  20. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I don't like to write without whisky. Or whiskey.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think so. The context seems to me to be what lessons you wished you'd learned the easy, without the pain and the wasted time,

    I was married, for about a decade. It ended, well, painfully. And getting out from under that marriage was like crawling out of a cold, dank cave into warm sunlight. There were lessons I learned about what a marriage is, and about respecting my own needs, that were hard-won knowledge. I might have been tempted to have skipped that decade, but I wouldn't have my two wonderful kids. I wouldn't know as much as I do about abuse (my ex's past), nor would I have learned patience so well. I never appreciated so many things I gave up for marriage until I got them back.

    In short, the experience was not wonderful, but it was invaluable. You really can't shortcut the real lessons of life.
     
  22. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    One thing I'd tell myself? Well, it's probably this: don't force your story in a certain direction.

    Currently I have a very near polished draft, about 99% ready for submission. Only to realise, hang on a minute, it wasn't the best story I could've told with what I had. So I can't submit it. I can't, because I know it's wasted potential if I did. And perhaps the lesser story won't get published anyway - there's a reason, after all, why I think it's not the best story I could've told.

    Another thing I learnt? Writing is heartbreaking. I don't know how many times I've cried over my book because of how hard it's been. Sheer will got me through, and of course, that it feels amazing when you're writing something beautiful.

    I guess above all, I underestimated just what it would involve. If I started a new book now, I think the process would hurt a lot less - deleting whole chapters doesn't hurt half as bad as it used to, needing to do my third rewrite wouldn't feel so painful because now I know that's just what it takes. Every rewrite felt like failure, felt like defeat, and I'm still in my pit of resignation over my first novel because I thought it should be over by now, and it's just not. But for a new book, I'll know to cast my eyes further, I'll know the finish line is further than I thought, but that would make the journey easier. There're nothing that will break you faster than false expectations and false hope.

    Oh, another thing - rewrites work wonders. Rather than see the work ahead of you and feel disappointed that it's not finished when it should be, see it as something exciting because, this time, you know it'll be something new, like a caterpillar transforming into a cocoon, and finally into a butterfly. Every rewrite changes your work beyond recognition, and it's more wonderful each time by leaps and bounds, and you're weaving precious layers into your story that's gonna turn a good thing into an excellent thing, and transform a good story into something that just might touch someone's heart.

    Last thing: research before hiring an editor :rolleyes: Speaking from bitter experience.

    Well, in any case, I wouldn't advise or encourage anyone to write a book unless they love writing. It's a funny thing - it seems like everyone wants to write a book, except - well, perhaps I'm being a little haughty now, sometimes I wonder if they actually know how hard it is. I've had several friends who want to write a book, yet they have never written anything that I know of. Some of them has entire book plans but have written as far as chapter one after 5 years. I feel like they're dreamers, and they will keep dreaming, but they'll never know the toil writing actually comes with - and therefore never have a book they can hold in their hands.

    And that leads me to my last (last) thing: never, ever, ever give up. Start and finish, for goodness' sake!
     
  23. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't like to do anything without whisky. Or whiskey.

    Ditto that.

    I'd also tell myself to read a bigger variety of people, and to start paying more attention to how people around me act.
     
  24. g_man526
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    g_man526 Member

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    What the hell are you waiting for? Write that masterpiece now!

    I've been writing since I was 12, but I always considered it just practice or playing around, and so didn't take my task seriously enough. I never finished anything because I gave up so easily. I didn't realize that to get to that point where you can finish a draft, rewrite, redraft, and finish a story, you have to take every project as seriously as the ambitions you put into them. Life always gets in the way, sure, but that's no reason to stop writing like you mean it.
     
  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Amen to that, McKK....!
     

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