Writing Advice

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  • #1115
    Mad Iguana
    Participant

    Anyone who’s been on Twitter may have noticed that I’m tweeting out some small nuggets of writing advice that I’ve found helpful.

    I’m hoping to continue to do this on a semi-regular basis, but…
    As I only have a limited number that are any use (if I had lots, I’d be a better writer than I am!), I wondered if any of the Denizens here had any that they’d heard/used/made up themselves and found useful?

    If you want to post them in this thread, they’d serve a dual purpose of being available for the Denizens to read, and also would provide some material for the @denofwriters twitter account.
    If you want to include your twitter handle, I’m more than happy to credit anyone here with the advice they proffer!

    Cheers!

    #1116
    Daedalus
    Participant

    Good idea, Mad. Can’t think of anything right now, but will rack my brains. Would be great to see others’ suggestions

    #1117
    Mad Iguana
    Participant

    Just noticed that people may not realise that by “I” in the post above, I mean the “@denofwriters” twitter account, which I’m currently curating.
    I don’t mean my own personal twitter account, which tends to be less polite and helpful.

    #1124
    Seagreen
    Participant

    Make time for day-dreaming. Fifteen minutes of doing nothing, except thinking about a particular scene, can help you visualise better.
    Atmospheric music helps. As does wine. Or gin.
    Okay, maybe not gin.

    #1131
    Squidge
    Participant

    Choose ring bound notebooks to scribble ideas in; you’ll never lose your pen if you keep one clipped down the inside of the rings…

    #1132
    Jonathan
    Participant

    One of my favourite (quotable) bits of writing advice is from Geoff Dyer: “Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire.” I love that.

    #1133
    Elle
    Participant

    When writing that painful 1st draft always remember Hemingway wise words: “The first draft of anything is shit.”

    #1143
    Mad Iguana
    Participant

    Excellent. Will use these. If you have a twitter handle, I’ll credit ye – otherwise anonymity will have to suffice.

    #1150
    Julie Cordiner
    Participant

    I write in 3rd person and if I’m struggling with getting the voice right in a scene, I try re-writing it in first person. It seems to create more intensity and immediacy. Then I keep the emotions when I revise it back to third person.
    I discovered this effect in one of the exercises in the Self Editing course.
    Twitter handle is @Julie_Cordiner.

    #1154
    Raine
    Participant

    Good idea, Mad.
    Umm. One I heard that I think made sense in terms of the editing process was ‘Write the first draft for yourself, edit for your readers.’

    Also, Find the theme of your story. Themes tie characters, plots and subplots together.

    Also (Although I am rubbish at doing this), when finishing for the day, stop in the middle of a scene, not at the end. THen it’s easier to get back into the next time you sit down.

    I shall mull…(that’s not a tip. Although it might be)

    #1155
    RichardB
    Participant

    I believe Hemingway also gave that tip about stopping in the middle of a scene, Raine, so you’re in good company there.

    Though as it happens I am at this moment taking a break (all right, procrastinating) from struggling to get back into the middle of a scene…

    #1157
    KazG
    Participant

    Great idea, Mad, and some good ones here.

    Hmm. Steven King said something similar to Raine’s ‘Write the first draft for yourself, edit for your readers’ with his ‘Write the first draft with the door closed, the second draft with the door open’ which has always stuck with me.

    I also found the discipline of writing something, anything, for at least 10 minutes a day a good one for a while there. It keeps writing top of mind and does seem to exercise that writing muscle so that it becomes stronger and more nimble. More responsive to the day. I found I was looking at things with a more writerly viewpoint.

    One I love – taking home a face each day. I can’t remember where I first saw this one, but its basically choosing a face to study (surreptitiously!) when you’re out and about, and then getting home and writing as full a description as you can from memory. You can then take it to a story stage, surmising who this person is, what their story might be. This could also apply to a moment, a conversation, a sighting, whatever.

    #1167
    Raine
    Participant

    I am clearly stealing all my tips from people who can put them much better than I can!!

    #1168
    Woolleybeans
    Participant

    How about: if you want the book to exist, you have to actually write it…

    #1204
    Daedalus
    Participant

    Well that’s just unreasonable WB 😉

    Jacques Anquetil, first five time winner of the Tour de France was once asked what advice he’d give aspiring bike racers. ‘Ride a bike, ride a bike, ride a bike’ was his answer. The equivalent for aspiring writers could be ‘write a book, write a book, write a book’.

    #1209
    RichardB
    Participant

    He left out ‘Take the dope, take the dope, take the dope.’ Though i’m not sure what the equivalent would be for writers.

    #1210
    Daedalus
    Participant

    Anquetil had a comment for that, too – it was something along the lines of ‘you expect us to do what we do on mineral water alone?’

    If there was a performance enhancing drug for writing, I’d be sorely tempted by it right now. (Not sure Hunter S Thompson’s idea of such a thing counts, btw)

    #1211
    Mad Iguana
    Participant

    You mean this one?
    Schedule

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Mad Iguana.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Mad Iguana.
    #1214
    RichardB
    Participant

    So would I.

    ‘We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls.’

    Er, no…

    #1220
    Daedalus
    Participant

    Yeah. I recommend not posting Thompson’s regime as writing advice

    #1466
    John T
    Participant

    One I picked up from Brian Keaney at York for intense, magical or transformational scenes (to be used sparingly). Write it as prose, rewrite it as poetry (however crappy) then rewrite it again as prose. The idea is to knock away your own familiar turns of phrase and find a different language. I’ve already tried it in the last couple of days, and just a few resonant words in the right place make a big difference.

    #1470
    Baz Baron
    Participant

    I downloaded a voice recorder app for my mobile so that when I’m out and about finding inspiration on my country walks, I can record ideas that pop into my head and save the mp3 files into their own folder for future use.

    #1472
    Baz Baron
    Participant

    Good tip @John T I’ll try that.

    #3401
    John S Alty
    Participant

    I came across this piece of writing advice by Sol Stein which appeals to me:

    “….be sure you don’t stop the story while describing. You are a storyteller, not an interior decorator.”

    Probably a shot across the bows of so-called literary prose. King likes to emphasize this point too, but doesn’t do it quite as succinctly.

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