#1 Posted by dr_nefarious (1619 posts) -

I'm trying to become the best writer I can possibly be, so I thought I would create this thread so that writers could exchange tips with other writers.

#2 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Its: possessive.
It's: contraction.

#3 Posted by Breadfan (6590 posts) -

Write drunk, edit sober.

#4 Posted by Tireyo (6451 posts) -

Uh... well...

Are you bored or something? This is so unlike you.

#5 Edited by mlarrabee (3031 posts) -

Write incessantly, pausing only to ensure you aren't falling into the many traps in writing.

Don't give up.

Changing my location helps me break dry spells. The walls of my apartment began hindering my imagination more quickly than I expected. Now I can't write in one place for more than a week.

If possible, keep voice memos. My best ideas always arrive at the worst times. Capture them if you can, however you can.

#6 Posted by WickedFather (1733 posts) -
@breadfan said:

Write drunk, edit sober.

Bruce Robinson's masterclass. I've done so much shit drunk and then woke up and thought "Wow, did *I* do that" when it comes to writing, but when it comes to forums it's the opposite. All attempts at being playful turn into disasters. It's like a friendly gorilla try ing to cuddle a butterly.

#7 Edited by PandaBear (1379 posts) -

Are you a spambot? Is this an actual question?

#8 Posted by believer258 (12101 posts) -

Write often! Read what you've written, wonder how it can be better, and then write some more! Get someone else to read what you've written and criticize it!

The best writing is that which is clear, concise, and focused. Whatever you write, read it and re-read it, and try to trim out things that aren't necessary or don't work. Make sure everything you say relates back to your overall idea. Contrary to what you might think, English teachers aren't impressed by purple prose, they're impressed by someone's ability to extract a concept and explain their ideas about that concept in a way that makes sense and uses good examples.

#9 Posted by ShadowConqueror (3082 posts) -

Just fucking write.

#10 Posted by WickedFather (1733 posts) -

Its: possessive.

It's: contraction.

Or if it were Steven King's IT it could be IT's posessive or its posessive or IT's as a contraction. Grammar is the new horror.

#11 Edited by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

Make a different career choice! D:

#12 Posted by IzzyGraze (852 posts) -

I haven't done much writing but I devour any advice and tips on the subject. So... I'll just post some of the stuff I found and seemed like good advice.

Start writing. If you plan out the whole thing to the last detail then you won't actually want to write the damn thing. There are two types of writers, planners and explorers, but even if you are a planner like me...don't over plan. Write.

Tim Schafer goes over his writing process in the Broken Age documentary in the backer forum. He writes every morning in a notebook for at least an hour. It has to be uninterrupted and it doesn't matter what you write about. It can be ANYTHING! Grocery list? Your day? Strange musings on the past? ANYTHING! He finds it helps shake loose ideas. I never tried it but it seems interesting. He also suggests doing it first thing when you start your day. That way your mind isn't so cluttered.

Make your character want something, even if it's getting a glass of water.

If there's a gun in the first act then it has to shoot someone in the third. I don't necessarily agree with that but it's a common tip/rule that comes up.

Another piece of advice that comes up often is: Finish what you write. Even if it's shit. Finish it. It'll feel nice to get that accomplishment.

On Youtube, Story board is a really interesting webseries where writers discuss a different topic each week. It's hosted by Patrick Rothfuss.

A good podcast with writing advice is Writing Excuses. 15 minute podcasts and very interesting.

#13 Edited by SoldierG654342 (1805 posts) -

Peer-review.

Nothing will tighten your writing up faster than having it torn apart in front of you by your peers.

#14 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Nothing will tighten your writing up faster than having it torn apart in front of you by your peers.

Personal experience has taught me that this man speaks the truth.

#15 Posted by gumdealer (96 posts) -

Don't obsess over writing perfectly in the first go through, finish your idea and go back to it later. I've gotten burnt out on so many projects by rewriting parts I didn't like over and over again.

If you have a rough idea of what you are going to write, make an outline. Basically make it as easy as you can to finish something, that's the hardest part.

#16 Posted by PandaBear (1379 posts) -

Get paid for it. If at some point you're not you're wasting you time. Peers and friends are fine, but deal with an editor who is paying you.

#17 Edited by Tru3_Blu3 (3239 posts) -

Treat your nearest library like a second household.

Gain tons of knowledge and experience on stuff. This helps with plotholes if you're writing a narrative.

Make a blog.

Write some short stories, even if they suck. Fanfiction is also acceptable.

If you're still 13 or younger, role-play with some friends.

Install a dictionary site upon your top right navigation bar. Very fucking useful if you need a new word.

I've asked the same question to some of the professional and intelligent folk on this site, one of which was Rorie himself. Guy said to just READ a lot. Obvious statement, but congenial.

#18 Posted by Daneian (1251 posts) -

@soldierg654342 said:

Nothing will tighten your writing up faster than having it torn apart in front of you by your peers.

Personal experience has taught me that this man speaks the truth.

If for no other reason than to discover how to communicate information to people in a way they can understand. You can have the most amazing ideas but if you're not clear, none of it matters.

#19 Posted by CornBREDX (5838 posts) -

Then you should write more and expand on your topic and not make so many pointless threads. =)

Just friendly advice.

#20 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Start writing. If you plan out the whole thing to the last detail then you won't actually want to write the damn thing. There are two types of writers, planners and explorers, but even if you are a planner like me...don't over plan. Write.

I thought it was swoopers and bashers. Also, it usually helps to view these more as spectrums than dichotomies.

#21 Posted by MonetaryDread (2135 posts) -

Pick up the books "The War of Art," by Steven Pressfield (about 'resistance' and getting work done), and "On Writing," by Stephen King (about the fundamentals of writing). Read those books because they are the two best books on the theory of being an accomplished writer. Then you can take your inspiration, lock yourself in a room with a bottle of Jack, then write for tens-of-thousands of hours. After a decade of practice, then you will finally start to learn how to write properly.

#22 Edited by SoldierG654342 (1805 posts) -

@daneian said:

@video_game_king said:

@soldierg654342 said:

Nothing will tighten your writing up faster than having it torn apart in front of you by your peers.

Personal experience has taught me that this man speaks the truth.

If for no other reason than to discover how to communicate information to people in a way they can understand. You can have the most amazing ideas but if you're not clear, none of it matters.

True, true. It's also good for you to put yourself out there and make yourself vulnerable. Especially when starting out, people tend to write in a vacuum. It's healthy to be humbled every once and a while.

#23 Edited by HatKing (6063 posts) -

Don't seek writing advice from people whose writing you don't respect. I imagine, most of us, haven't shared anything with you, so take what we say with a grain of salt (even this). Find somebody you respect, and hassle them until they take pity and part some wisdom on you. Then become better than they are and look back and wonder why the fuck you ever sought their advice. Do this a few hundred times and you might be able to read something you've written without wanting to burn it.

Twitter is, actually, an okay place to make connections. Either writing friends (which is just friendly competition), or people who have the ability to pay you for your work.

Sorry for coming off like a cynic, but it's honesty.

#24 Posted by Krullban (1062 posts) -

@soldierg654342 said:

Nothing will tighten your writing up faster than having it torn apart in front of you by your peers.

Personal experience has taught me that this man speaks the truth.

Indeed. Even worse when it's not even your native language being torn apart by your peers. Almost a year ago I had to write a 4 page essay and a presentation in Korean. My asshole was destroyed.

#25 Posted by Rick_Fingers (523 posts) -

Read everything you write out loud

Read dialogue out loud twice

#26 Edited by Broomhitches (173 posts) -

One major tip (that I should follow) is to not allow your apprehensions regarding your possible lack of creativity prevent you from writing anything.

#27 Posted by Hunter5024 (5909 posts) -

Being a great editor can help you when your skills as a writer fail you. Both of these skills are key.

Online
#28 Posted by Usernameandemail (123 posts) -

Buy a style guide and use it.

#29 Posted by WarosVenus (12 posts) -

Don't obsess over writing perfectly in the first go through, finish your idea and go back to it later. I've gotten burnt out on so many projects by rewriting parts I didn't like over and over again.

If you have a rough idea of what you are going to write, make an outline. Basically make it as easy as you can to finish something, that's the hardest part.

Yes, this. This is what works for me as well, and if you need a jumping off point, I would recommend starting here.

#30 Edited by Everyones_A_Critic (6309 posts) -

Write the way you talk and keep it simple. You can reach way more people that way while not coming off as a stuck up prick. If you're a journalist this is invaluable since your editor will undoubtedly find a nice-guy way of saying "OUR AUDIENCE IS A SEA OF RETARDS, IF THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND WE'RE FUCKED." So write like a normal dude while also making your point. That way you don't have to be a cunt and talk down to your readers and you'll keep your editor happy.

It's also important to remember that writing is nothing more than the transcription of sounds we make with our mouths. Making it out to be an artform only gives it unwarranted power. Grammar is fucking horseshit too. As long as you get your point across and people realize what you're saying you shouldn't give a fuck about grammar. Start sentences with prepositions just to piss people off. Because anyone who gets that wound up about something so marginal and fucking stupid should choke on their lean cuisine dinner and die alone.

#31 Edited by Encephalon (1311 posts) -

Learn to weather rejection.

If you're writing with the intention of someday getting your work published, you'll have to be able to hear "NO" a hundred times without letting it break you.

#32 Posted by dr_nefarious (1619 posts) -

@tireyo said:

Uh... well...

Are you bored or something? This is so unlike you.

Haha! No, I'm genuinely trying to improve on my writing.

#33 Posted by dr_nefarious (1619 posts) -

I haven't done much writing but I devour any advice and tips on the subject. So... I'll just post some of the stuff I found and seemed like good advice.

Start writing. If you plan out the whole thing to the last detail then you won't actually want to write the damn thing. There are two types of writers, planners and explorers, but even if you are a planner like me...don't over plan. Write.

Tim Schafer goes over his writing process in the Broken Age documentary in the backer forum. He writes every morning in a notebook for at least an hour. It has to be uninterrupted and it doesn't matter what you write about. It can be ANYTHING! Grocery list? Your day? Strange musings on the past? ANYTHING! He finds it helps shake loose ideas. I never tried it but it seems interesting. He also suggests doing it first thing when you start your day. That way your mind isn't so cluttered.

Make your character want something, even if it's getting a glass of water.

If there's a gun in the first act then it has to shoot someone in the third. I don't necessarily agree with that but it's a common tip/rule that comes up.

Another piece of advice that comes up often is: Finish what you write. Even if it's shit. Finish it. It'll feel nice to get that accomplishment.

On Youtube, Story board is a really interesting webseries where writers discuss a different topic each week. It's hosted by Patrick Rothfuss.

A good podcast with writing advice is Writing Excuses. 15 minute podcasts and very interesting.

Thanks. This helped a lot.

#34 Posted by CynicalBuzzard (240 posts) -

If you do not write everyday, you will never become a great writer.

#35 Posted by Whamola (131 posts) -

Find your voice. What I mean by that is don't try to inject a bunch of words into your writing that you think will make you sound smart. They won't and you'll probably use them the wrong way.

Read as much as you can, but try to only read quality stuff. When getting into a writer, try not to read their most famous work first. For example, instead of 1984, read Down and Out in Paris and London; Instead of Lolita, read Despair; Instead of The Stranger, read The Plague. When you find a writer you really like, find out who their favorite writers are and read them.

Do NOT write Science Fiction or Fantasy to start out. Those two genres are completely riddled with cliches and they make it very likely that you'll pick up some VERY bad habits.

But seriously, just read a lot, don't just read one genre, and listen to what's being said and how its being said.

#36 Posted by HistoryInRust (6380 posts) -

A timely tip, especially if you are only just beginning your endeavor as a writer:

Participate in Nanowrimo! It's a fantastic way to break yourself of any perfectionist tendencies en route to a first draft. First drafts are about dumping your ideas out as though they're coins in a piggy bank. Just see what you have and pick through it afterward.

#37 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@whamola:

What if he doesn't want to write fiction?

This just seems to be a common assumption everybody makes: when you ask for advice on how to write, they give you advice on how to write fiction.

#38 Edited by Whamola (131 posts) -

@video_game_king: Well, if he wants to write non-fiction, the same rules apply pretty much, but with a few things added:

Figure out what is relevant and what isn't. I know its en vogue for journalists and the like to write these long set ups about how they were drinking a chai-skinny-latte with extra foam at Balducci's on MLK and Washington when The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen started playing on my 32 gig Apple iPhone 5s when I saw a Peruvian Pan flute player wearing Gauchos and I thought to myself, "My God! It's so simple! Globalization is...SHUT THE HELL UP. The worst thing you can do is insert yourself into a story. Hunter S. Thompson did it, sure, but he did it because he specifically became part of whatever he was covering, that was how he worked best. Just learn what the story is, figure out why it's important or interesting, and talk about that, don't pad things out. Be concise first and foremost and the rest will fall into place.

Figure out how to properly put things in an order that makes sense. Let's say you're writing about art in the ancient Mediterranean. You wouldn't start with the Etruscans, go on to the Romans, and end on the Greeks. It sounds simple, but its a mistake I see a lot of people make.