Wednesday, January 7, 2015

100 Things Every Beginning Writer Should Know (Recycled)

Fun Fact: I've actually been in Italy since New Year's Eve.*  Because I had to come up with an entire month's worth of blog posts in the space of a few days, I decided to bring back a post from January of 2013.

The more you write, the more you learn.  Everyone starts out making beginner's mistakes, but some are easy to avoid if you know what to watch out for.  As a list of advice for the beginner, or a refresher for the veteran, here are 100 things I think writers should know:
  1. Nothing you write will ever be perfect the first time.
  2. Writing is hard.
  3. Show, don't tell.
  4. Character development is the key.
  5. There will always be someone who doesn't like your book.  This is okay.  Haters gonna hate!
  6. Take every suggestion/comment/criticism with a grain of salt.
  7. Music is your friend.
  8. Writing a book takes a long time.
  9. Writing gets better with practice.
  10. Avoid cliches.
  11. Do research, but don't include every piece of research in your book.
  12. Give every character a secret.
  13. Physical descriptions of people are less important than you think.
  14. Spelling and grammar DO matter.
  15. There is more than one way to write a book.
  16. Carry your writing supplies with you everywhere.
  17. Don't listen to people who say writing is stupid.  They are stupid.
  18. Revision takes five times longer than you think it will.
  19. Don't use "the mirror trick."
  20. Don't write purple prose.
  21. Watch your pacing!
  22. There are lots of things about writing that aren't fun, but the fun parts make it worth it.
  23. Never be afraid to take a break.
  24. Don't stress about your word count.
  25. Find a writing routine that works for you, and stick to it.  And then, shake it up every so often.
  26. Spellcheck isn't God.
  27. Bigger words aren't always better.
  28. Know your characters better than they know themselves.
  29. Develop your antagonists, too.
  30. It isn't the end of the world if you have to delete something.
  31. Never underestimate the power of good old fashioned pen and paper.
  32. Know where your story is going.
  33. Readreadreadreadreadread.
  34. Don't overuse adverbs.
  35. "The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug." -Mark Twain
  36. No one knows your story better than you do.
  37. Write about things you love.
  38. If you're bored, your readers will be bored.
  39. Simplicity is underrated.
  40. It's okay to use "said" more than you think it is.
  41. Don't be afraid to imitate other authors.
  42. You learn something every time you write.
  43. Stick with it!
  44. No two writers are alike.
  45. Don't edit as you write your first draft.
  46. Nothing you write is ever set in stone.
  47. Write about things that scare you.
  48. Originality isn't always about having nothing in common with other stories.
  49. There are some tropes that never get old.
  50. Your story does not have to be a complex literary tome full of symbolism and metaphors.
  51. Use all five senses.
  52. Know what your characters want.
  53. Your writing will get better!
  54. Nobody likes to read flashbacks, or dream sequences.
  55. If you say "well, you haven't gotten to the good part yet", you have a problem.
  56. You are the only one who can tell your story.
  57. A little comic relief can go along way.
  58. The internet is a great source of writing advice.
  59. Don't emotionally exhaust your readers.
  60. Keep a file of "deleted scenes."  That way, you don't feel like you're technically "deleting" them.
  61. Take inspiration from other authors.
  62. Don't be afraid to change things of your story.
  63. Make your characters miserable.
  64. Learn proper dialogue formatting and punctuation.
  65. Your writing style is unique.
  66. You have the final say on any changes made to your story.
  67. Don't be afraid of criticism.
  68. Nobody likes a Mary Sue.
  69. Remember why you started.
  70. Take advice.
  71. Let your characters teach you things about their story.
  72. In the end, no one can "teach you" how to write.  You have to learn for yourself.
  73. Don't be afraid to end your revision and call it done.
  74. If you are tempted to skim a section, your readers will be, too.
  75. Fiction is more real than you might think.
  76. You are your own harshest critic.
  77. Write a lot.
  78. Don't over-describe.  Don't under-describe, either.
  79. Everyone gets stuck.
  80. Longer does not mean better.
  81. People read for dialogue.
  82. Don't let Shiny New Ideas distract you.
  83. The strongest characters are the ones that are most human.
  84. When you think you've learned everything about writing, you're wrong.
  85. Revision is just as important as writing itself.
  86. Everyone loves a good vs. evil story.
  87. Let your characters make mistakes.
  88. Finish what you started!
  89. Don't line edit anything that you haven't structurally edited first.
  90. Keep a place to write down all your story ideas.
  91. Whether or not your readers can connect with your characters can make or break a story.
  92. If it doesn't affect you emotionally, your readers won't care.
  93. Listen to your instincts.  If something seems off, it is.
  94. Praise makes you feel good, but constructive criticism helps you improve.
  95. Back up your files.
  96. Experiment.
  97. Outlining helps some people, but hinders others.  Find your planning style.
  98. Writing is not the same as speaking.
  99. The best writing is the kind where you don't even know it's there.
  100. Love what you do!
I also have a second list of 100 things writers should know--it's right here.

What would you add to this list?

*It's true!  I'm spending the month of January studying in Italy.  I'll probably post more about this later.  For now, ciao!
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