The writer in YOU
"If you want to write, read." I have read that quote by many different authors, so I'd say it is great advice. I think when you find a book you really connect with, written within those pages may be the style you were meant to write. (Perhaps this applies more to prose than poetry. To be honest, I know nothing about poetry!)
Stephen King takes that quote a step further. "If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."
And isn't that why we are here on prose? Because we want to work at becoming a writer; because we want another set of eyes to read our writing, and read what other aspiring writers have up their sleeve? Don't be afraid to post! If one person likes what you write, it's a win! Just like they say, practice, practice, practice! And then drop it here on prose!
Another Stephan King quote that is almost spiritual in nature really resonates with me:
"Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Getting happy….this book….is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you are brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free, so drink. Drink and be filled…
The reason this resonates so much with me, is because writing has been so beneficial to my mental health, so in a way, prose is a life saver. In every challenge there is a creative test and during that process, stinkin' thinkin' flies out the window. Does it work that way for you?
I primarily enjoy the writing style of stream of consciousness and short fiction, first person, with a satirical slant. My personal tips are a work in progress all the time and are as follows:
Formulate your ideas, and find a WOW first sentence. Make the reader want to read more with every sentence.
Find an authentic voice for your protagonist. Become the protagonist. Act out the scene in your mind as you write by asking what-if's.
Think about the reader when you write. Make them feel emotionally connected.
Create a rhythm with your words.
Play with vocabulary and metaphors.
Keep it fun! Many of us have addictive tendencies. Don't obsess! If something really isn't working for you, drop it, at least for a period of time. But that doesnt mean to give up either. There is a fine line. Know the fine line.
Writing began for me by landing here on prose a couple of years ago. My first post was simple in structure and composition. It was @sandflea68 and @Mnezz that were the first prosers to come take a look and press the like button. I thought I had landed on the moon! A heartfelt thanks to them both and for all the other amazing writers here on prose that have taken the time to take a peek at my writing. You are my virtual family!
The Pretender’s Potpourri
My first inclination is to speak in generalities, but I’m going to instead post random bits of things that work for me. They might not work for you; that’s fine. Disregard at will. But for 20 minutes I’ll imagine I know something, toss out some thoughts and post them, and perhaps someone will find something helpful.
1. Show, don’t tell, as all the writing instructors say. Never tell your reader what to think when an image will do.
2. While editing, you can probably strike half your adjectives. If you use an adverb, too, you’d better have a damn good reason.
3. Does it really matter what color your character’s eyes are?
4. Listening to the right album or playlist while writing can make a big difference, in no small part because
5. you should never neglect mood.
6. Hemingway for economy (even if he is a bastard) [“Old Man at the Bridge,” “Hills Like White Elephants”], Virginia Woolf for lyricism and her ability to narrate silence [To the Lighthouse, for a start], Thomas Hardy for scene setting linked to narrative vision [Tess of the D’Urbervilles], Joseph Conrad for frame narrative [Heart of Darkness, though Achebe’s right about the racism], Jane Austen for wit and restraint [Pride and Prejudice], Flannery O’Conner for the sickening irony and portrayal of a fallen world [“A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”]. The Great Gatsby gets my vote for The Great American Novel (TM). I’ll take Ta-Nehisi Coates over any living essayist I can think of, though I’m less widely read in that genre than I ought to be.
7. And to flip to a different medium for a hastily-considered list, Vertigo, The Virgin Suicides, Moonlight, The Third Man, and The Illusionist, and Tokyo Story all have things to teach a writer.
8. Sections of dialogue become more vivid with properly-timed descriptions of physical actions and setting, which can also provide pacing.
9. Balance the abstract and the concrete.
10. Find a reader and editor you trust (easier said than done, but incredibly valuable and rewarding).
11. Leave your reader space to interpret. Guide the reader, but don’t shoehorn them into a lesson.
12. Being a good Proser means reading, not just writing.
Break the Rules
Learn the rules, then break them better than anyone else. :P
Warning: May not be legitimate advice.
Write what you know.
Write what you've felt deeply
the colors, smells, tastes.
You don't have to write an autobiography but
everything you write has to have your unique perspective
based on your own observation, familiarity, involvement, survival.
You can change the characters, places, plots
but without your singular vision
works ring empty.
Know who you are
and what only you can bring to writing.
Authenticity is everything.
The Golden Rule
When you want the readers to know something about a character or scene don't say it, show it.
Instead of saying, The sky is blue, say it in more detail; she gazed up. the perfect combination of blue and white. it lit up her eyes.
Another example of the golden rule.
Alex likes Mallissa. WRONG
His thoughts spun around him like a carousel. Does she like me? Does she feel the same way? Does Malissa even know me? CORRECT
See the difference. If you are always explaining everything as a narrator then your readers won't be interested and eventually get bored.
Follow the Golden Rule. Show Don't Tell.
I don't know if I'm in any position to be giving out tips for writing but I think one of the most obvious ways to improve is to just keep writing. Sometimes you may look at what you've written and think "it's just trash" but I encourage you to keep it. I enjoy to look back at how far I've come and sometimes it makes for a good laugh to see some cheesy or badly written work.
Write everyday. Everywhere. Anytime. With technology we have today you don't need to be carrying around a pen and paper to be able to write, you can just take out your phone and flip to notes and write away.
If you don't know what to write about, write about your surroundings, how you're feeling, or using all five senses in your writing. Also try to change your sentence structure up. I tend to stick to one type of sentence structure and it's something I've been meaning to fix about my writing.
Read some books with writing styles you like. Copy their style. Not their story.
Do they have short sentences with simple language? Is it long and complex with a lot of sensory details?
Find what you like, find what you like to write about and just write.
If you want to write, then write.
If you want to write, then write. Don’t focus on anything else. Don’t compare your stories to anyone else’s. Don’t say, “They’re so much better”. Don’t listen to the darkness in your head, or embrace the fear that you might fail.
If you want to write, then write. Don’t write long stories, if you don’t want to. Don’t plan and worry and trouble yourself over words that don’t make you happy. Don’t make things more elaborate than they need to be. Write for yourself, not to impress.
If you want to write, then write. Don’t write short stories, if you don’t want to. Don’t try to cram your thoughts into a few paragraphs if a couple pages will do. Don’t censor or edit yourself to make others happy. You can’t make everyone happy, anyway.
If you want to write, then write. Pour your soul into the words on the page. Write like a river, ebbing and flowing with emotion and story. Don’t get hung up on the rocks of sentence structure and expectation. Don’t edit, don’t stifle, and don’t change. Just let it out.
If you want to write, then write. If you don’t tell your stories, who will?
About what are you passionate?
Can you describe, in detail, the surroundings?
- make sure the description will enhance the story.
- their point of view (as it pertains to the story)
Less is more (at the right time (this helps your reader to use their imagination)
More is more (for example: how is the character feeling, what is the character thinking while going through a pivotal moment in the story).
The ending (what is the best for the story?:
- no closure
Do what you're doing right now. Maybe try some other writing sites, too. I've tried Khan Academy for writing and it helps.
Listen to your Heart
Don't take advice that you don't believe in, no matter who the person may be. Constructive criticism isn't always as constructive as you might think. If what you wrote feels right, why change it because someone thinks this word should be that and that sentence should be a little shorter and so on? If it feels right, you don't need to apply every change to a piece or to your style. Though the advice might be good, it might not be good for you and how you want your writing to be consumed.