As writers, we need all the help we can get. The easier the access we have to materials that assist in learning our craft, the better. I love writing advice from other authors, especially best-selling ones like Stephen King or...
Here are John Steinbeck's Writing Tips:
1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
I love the motivational tools writers use against writer's block. All this NANOWRIMO and #1khr stuff is just pressure. I'm a big advocate for writing every day. I don't really care how much, just do it!
2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
Someone also wrote a book about this. Although, I am a perfectionist, I will admit backtracking to fix every problem in the manuscript is my greatest excuse for not actually writing new material. Sometimes, I use it to get something done when the muse is out to lunch. Flow is something you should treasure when you write. It helps you to keep pace and tell your story.
3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
It's true. I have the worst stage fright ever. I used to sing in chorus when I was in school, but when we performed in front of our audiences everything we learned in the year, I couldn't help but feel an immense trepidation. My knees wobbled, and I couldn't relax. Then I'd focus on my dad. They say in Broadway, in order to avoid butterflies, it is good to focus on a beam in the roof or some object in the far off distance. This works great. To me, my dad was the only one in the audience when I performed and I was able to relax more. I love all my readers, but when I write, I think about one person, so I don't clam up.
4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
Throughout the writing community, the general rule of thumb is to cut 10% from your novel when you revise. It's more like an average then a rule though. Sometimes, you just can't leave certain things there. In addition to not revising while you write, it's good not to remain riveted on the same scene or section. Especially if already written. You might change your mind when you go back for revision later.
5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
Okay. This one is very hard for me to follow, but it's happened before. I am a writer with a closet ego. (Aren't we all?) Our work is very special to us. We covet it like junk food sometimes. There are scenes that I cannot simply delete, because they sound so perfect, but I know they have nothing to do with the plot. Writing romance, I tend to write great dialogue between the h/H, but the beautiful admissions of love come at the wrong time in the manuscript or they do not further the story. I've cut plenty of good material, but I always save it (just for kicks) in a separate file called 'deleted scenes'.
6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
Another tip I take personally. If you were to set up a video camera with sound in my office, you'd record every tantalizing reenactment of my manuscript spoken in my words. I know how my characters feel and interact with each other. I read each dialogue like I'm acting a part in a movie. If they don't sound natural, it's easier to catch the differences this way, and I know how to fix the problem. Even as I write this blog, I'm repeating it out loud.
I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have anymore you'd like to share, please feel free to tell me in a comment below.
Thank you for being a reader.
As always, Happy Writing!