The Best Advice: 9 Writing Tips

Over my writing career I've received a lot of advice. Some of it good and some, well, less valuable. Here are the tips that I find myself sharing with others along the way:

  1. Writing: Just start. However you can, whenever you can, just do it. You will not be alone in seeing the blank page and panicking. We've all been there, done that. The first and most important action you can take is to sit down and begin.
  2. Writers' Block: Okay, this tags onto number 1. When you don't know what to write - write about that. I'm not sure where to begin. I could begin with the beginning, but I think it will take too long to then get to the action. Perhaps I should begin with the action like start with a really exciting sword fight. . . Suddenly you will find yourself writing. Put pen to paper, fingers to the keyboard and get started.
  3. Writing What You Know: I heard that a lot when I was first writing, but I really wanted to also write about things I wanted to learn about. A writing friend of mine learned how to harvest wheat by working on a farm in order to add that element to her story. Write what you know and/or what you want to know more about. Your interest and passion for your topic will transfer to the writing and, most importantly, to the reader.
  4. Show Don't Tell: This advice was another I heard often. So the difference between showing and telling? Telling: He was embarrassed. Showing: His ears turned red.
  5. Dialog: Go to the mall, the nearest coffee shop or stand in line and listen to conversations. People talk in short sentences. Conversation is a give and take. It should be no different in your story or novel.
  6. Characters: Everyone is flawed and complex so each of your characters should be as well. Yes, that includes the heroine, the hero and the villain. The heroine and hero will have flaws and the villain may have a gentle side. That is what makes them interesting. 
  7. Surprise the Reader: Every page should contain a surprise for the reader. Okay, what does that mean? Well, a word choice that is a bit different, a decision the reader won't see coming, a plot twist or a metaphor or simile that makes your reader smile. Something that will keep the reader turning the page. 
  8. Read out loud: One of the best ways to edit and find errors is through reading your work out loud. Find a quiet place and go for it. This will also help you to find areas where the dialog sounds stilted, where you've used the same word too close together or used words with the same sounds too close. (Using the same words or sounds is not bad in and of itself, only when it's done because of laziness.)
  9. Read, Read, Read: Writers should also be readers. 
Now what are you waiting for? Get to it.
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.



Karen Cioffi said...

Jean, great writing tips. I like #3, while it's good to write about what you know, it's also good to learn what you need to as you go along.

Sandra Nachlinger said...

Great, common sense tips. Thanks for sharing them.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Jean, I just love that "just start." I tell my clients the same thing. And to keep at it. Ditch the revisions and editing until you have the project completed. Get on a roll! (-:

Unknown said...

It feels good to get writing tips, but as the article says, if yo don't start you will get no where.
I say start with the first letter, the word will form. Now you're on you way to write your compelling story.

Karen Cioffi said...

Great advice, Audley. You can't start your journey without taking the first step! said...

Good advice. I broke my femur two weeks ago and I've been so tired I haven't done anything which includes a writer's slump. I'll try some of your suggestions to get out of it.

Karen Cioffi said...

Mary, so sorry to hear you broke your femur. Hope you have speedy recovery. Hope Jean's tips help you get out of your writing slump too!

Karen Cioffi said...

This is from a reader who emailed me in October2016:

My name is Mackenzie Ward. I'm sure you're quite busy, so I'll get right to it I just wanted to pass on compliments on Writers on the Move and your post, The Best Advice: 9 Writing Tips.

As an aspiring writer and someone who has been working at crafting short stories for the past year, it's a great help.

Have a great day!

Best Regards,

Mackenzie Ward

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