Five Things Writers MUST Do

I would say there are about twenty-five things writers need to do, but these top five are ESSENTIAL:

1- Know your audience and write for them.  I don’t write YA, but if I did, I would have to learn my readers’ interests… their unique vocabulary… popular phrases… wardrobe and hairstyle preferences… everything there is to know about them. No one—no matter how much they love to read—will invest the time in reading what doesn’t interest them or reflect their dreams and aspirations.

2 – Read. First and foremost, a good writer reads. Get to know what’s out there and how other authors approach their craft. All the while, read for fun and pleasure, too. After all, fiction writers must be able to offer their readers an enjoyable reading experience.

3 – Learn the writing “rules.”  Read books on plot, style, character, etc. Go to conferences. Talk to other writers. Ask someone to mentor you. (Don’t worry, after you learn the rules, you can grant yourself permission to break them!!! I’ll clarify. Don’t break all of them all of the time. Be careful. Pick and choose as you find your unique “voice.”)

4 – Make every word count. Be precise. I use a an average vocabulary because I want my readers to enjoy my stories and not have to look up unfamiliar words. I think this is good advice for most fiction. However, I can see that Sci-fi and some other genres may want to use a different standard. By reading other books in your genre, you will learn what to use for your specific story.

5 – Edit, Edit, Edit.  Mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation stand out like a sore thumb and draw attention away from your story. Even though no book is perfect, you don’t want to be embarrassed by mistakes. Take your time. Use an editor, but also read through your own work several times before sending it off to them.genre

The Problem With Repetition

Continuing on from my last post…

Another thing I realized as I scanned my manuscript was that I had used a lot of exclamation points in my writing. (I must really think my writing is exciting!!!!!!!!!)

With most things, the more you do them, say them, express them, the less effective they become.

Or, to say it another way:

A SMALL DOSE GOES A LONG WAY.

Exclamation points should be used sparingly and, by and large, in dialogue. After all, their purpose is to denote excitement. But, remember, not all things are equally exciting, so be careful not to use them too often. Then, when you do use them, the reader will pay attention.

Another thing that I remarked on before (when talking about pet peeves, I believe) is words that are repeated over and over. Take the word “walked”. There are so many more words—exciting ones— that can be used in its place: sauntered, ambled, jaunted…

This problem is easily fixed by going under the EDIT tab and clicking on FIND. You can type in a word you think you may have used too often, and your computer will search your manuscript for it, page by page. It is up to you whether you want to keep a given sentence as you originally wrote it, or whether you want to replace it. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t forget, your Thesaurus gives you plenty of alternative words to use. When you run out of replacement words, you can always cycle through your list, again. Or, you can try rewriting your sentences so they read altogether differently.

More observations next time. I’m always open to questions, also. If I don’t know the answer (which I very likely may not) I will find out…

Brenda