Edgar Bulwer-Lytton said it nearly 200 years ago, which still holds today. A simple story has the power to change lives, which is why many people choose to become writers.
They are finding the words to describe the story how you want to or even begin writing can be challenging. We’ve compiled these 20 essential tips for writers who wish to perfect their craft and tell their stories to the world.
These tips will help you improve your writing. Some are about narrative, and others are about mentality. These tips have one thing in common: they will help you improve your writing — and perhaps even write the book you’ve always wanted.
This video will give you great writing tips you won’t find anywhere else.
Even pantsers should plan
Let us explain if you have never heard of these terms. Pantsers is a term used to describe writers who “fly from the seat of their pants,” that is, they don’t prepare much before writing. Start writing without too much preparation, and trust it will all work out. Plotters are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They plan and outline before they start writing.
What is the best way to proceed? What works for one writer may not work for another.
Experience has taught us, however, that planning is essential. We always recommend preparation before writing, even if you only have a few nuggets about your plot. If you still need to do so, create a plot outline today.
Remember your outline
It would be best if you used your outline. It may seem obvious, but this is one of the most challenging writing tips to remember!
Subplots and characters secondary to the main plot can lead writers astray, leading them into long chapters with no real purpose. Returning to the main story, they realize they are too far away.
You can avoid such detours by keeping your outline at the forefront of your mind. Even if you deviate from your plan, you should be able to refer to it and explain how you will get back on track.
If you need clarification on your memory, it is essential to write down your outline.
Early conflict resolution is key
Conflict is one of the most essential elements to focus on in your story. The battle of your account is the core of any good narrative. Make sure you tell readers what it is in the first few chapters.
This can be done by having an early incident where the main character makes a big revelation or gets involved. In The Hunger Games, the inciting event is Katniss’s decision to volunteer for the Games, which sets off her political and personal conflict with Capitol.
Remember that conflict can take many forms. If you need to know what conflict is, it may be unconventional. Your conflict could be inside the narrator’s mind (character vs. themselves) or against a more significant force (like technology vs. nature). When you’ve figured it out, introduce it as early as possible!
Control your pace
Good pacing can ruin a great book. It would be best to control your story’s pace to avoid readers losing interest and putting down your book out of frustration.
To combat the slow pace, you will need to:
A) Cut down lengthy sentences and descriptions.
B) Increased action and dialogue.
First, it eliminates fluff and filler. In extreme cases, you may need to remove a lot of exposition to get right to the heart of your story. This can be done by using writing tip 18.
It may seem counterintuitive that adding to the content would result in a faster pace. You can always count on dialogue and action to speed up slow rates because they tangibly move the story.
Show, Don’t Tell
Similarly, you might have heard this advice before, but it’s worth repeating as much as possible: Show, don’t tell. We’ll show you what it means for those who don’t know. This rule is illustrated in this passage from Sally Rooney’s Ordinary People:
He gets up shortly after eight. The carriage is warming up with a lot of sweat and breath. It’s bright out the window. Connell rubs the left side of his eye with his fingers and stands up—minor stations with unreadable name flash by. Elaine reads the only novel she brought on her journey. It has a glossy cover with the words “Now a Major Motion Picture.”
You can see that it is not easy to eliminate all telling in your writing. You could say the first sentence of this passage qualifies as “telling,”; but the rest “shows” because it creates a vivid picture: the warm, bright carriage on the train, which is rushing by other stations, and the girl in the opposite chair reading the glossy book.
But don’t reveal TOO much
You want to make your scenes “showy” and as detailed as possible. However, you want to keep the plot and characters private from your readers. Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory” suggests that you only give readers the “tip of the iceberg,” the most essential part of your story.
Writers often create long-term plans or detailed histories for characters. Readers only need to be aware of the “here and now,” so to speak. If you give them too much, they will be overwhelmed and may choose to read something more straightforward.
You can include some backstory and foreshadowing, but keeping most of this information to yourself is best. You can also use this technique to reveal a few hints as you progress in the story. This will keep readers interested rather than losing it. Two writing tips in one!
Take care with POV
Be careful when choosing your narrator’s point of view. Your reader will be able to enter the story through them. Your narrator should not have a peculiar voice. They must be relatable and accessible to readers and shouldn’t sound stereotypical if they speak a particular dialect. (I can help you with this. You might also consider getting a sensitivity reading.
Remember that while omniscient narration allows you to be more flexible, it requires discipline from the author. The omniscient narrator may move between storylines too quickly, which can cause readers to experience mental whiplash.
Remember our tip always to keep your outline in front of you. This will ensure your omniscient narrator stays within the story.