This is it. After months, maybe even years, of having the perfect story idea in your head, you are finally ready to begin writing. It is the story of your soul, one that you dream about, and you know you are the person that must tell it to the world.
But you’ve never written more than a grocery list before, and have no idea how to begin. You’ve looked for tips and tricks online, but quickly fell down the Internet rabbit hole and became overwhelmed with all the various opinions and options for how to tell your best story. You’ve bought a plethora of notebooks, pens, highlighters. You’ve scoured the book store for writing guides with the intent of picking out the best gems of advice, only to end up flagging every page.
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Even the most famous writers in the world started out exactly where you are now: sitting at your computer, staring at that blank page and little blinking cursor as it taunts you with the lack of words on the page. They found their course, waded through the voices and advice, and came out on the other side, and so will you. And to help you on your way, we’ve decided to compile the most comprehensive and direct advice on writing to help you get started without getting weighted down by those pesky online searches.
So here are Fangirlish’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Your Best Work
You’re probably thinking ‘duh, no kidding’, but we’re serious. It really can be that simple, at least in some ways. Remember that mean little cursor, mocking you with each blink? Show him who’s boss, and start typing. Many writers, when feeling stuck, try free writing. They have a general concept in mind, but can’t seem to find the perfect words to get it from their brain and onto the page. What many don’t realize is, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around. It just has to be written, so start typing whatever those swirling words are, and get them onto that page. Eventually, you will find that your mind will find its balance, get on track, and the ideas will organize themselves. Starting your story is the hardest part, but once you get over that initial block, you might surprise yourself. Another thing to help you work through that first little block, would be plotting. Not every writer is a plotter, some are pantsers, where they just fly by the seat of their pants, and most of their writing is free writing. But some people love the organization and order of a well drafted plot to help keep them on track, with character information, scenes pre-planned, arcs, twists and everything in between. If this is you, this is where you start. Get it all outlined, however you need to, and this will help smooth out that hurdle of the first page fears.
Read! Read! Read!
Some of you may feel like this one is redundant. How can reading someone else’s work help you write your own? Well, reading is the best writing teacher you can possibly have! And it’s fun! Every time you read a book, you not only get an incredible experience, you also learn craft, pacing, plot, and dialogue. Look at the lines in your favorite books that made you gasp. What was it about them that evoked such a reaction? Consider this each time you want to throw a twist in to your own books…build up, then BAM. You can read whatever you want, as much as you want, but we do recommend reading a lot of your own genre. If you write YA, devour everything YA. Have a great horror concept? Learn from Stephen King. Even the horror master himself, Mr. King, says reading is the best way to learn how to write.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like most things, the more you do it, the better you get. Writing is no different. Most best sellers will admit that their first few books were not pub worthy. It took many drafts, many different manuscripts, to find the one that worked. So if you toss your ms out into the world and get no bites from agents, don’t despair. That is completely normal, you are not alone. The best way to correct this particular issue is to just keep writing. Try new things, from short stories, one shots (single scene stories), poetry…anything that will help you perfect your prose and hone your skills. There is no such thing as a wasted writing, because everything you write has a purpose in its practice. This can also be done with free writing, and letting the worlds flow without restriction. You might surprise yourself and come up with the next New York Time Bestseller!
Avoid the Bandwagon!
This is something many new authors tend to do, and it’s an honest mistake. When vampire books were the rage, authors tried their hand at tapping into the trend. Dystopian worlds? Been there done that. Any agent or editor will tell you that certain concepts that have saturated the bookshelves are no longer what is selling, and selling is what is important. But that doesn’t mean you should write strictly to follow those trends, because the publishing landscape changes so quickly. Never try to write what you think will sell. Write your story, your way, in your own time. Always be true to your voice, and your tale, because bandwagons are dangerous things when they dictate your creativity.
Revise! Because no first draft is perfect.
This is the biggest piece of advice we can give for aspiring authors. No first draft is without aspects that can be improved, so please don’t ever stop at just the first round. Many authors go through multiple drafts, beta readers, critique partners, edit, edit, edit, before they even consider jumping into the query trenches and sharing their work with agents or editors. Step one said that your story doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be written. This is the step that allows you the chance to perfect those little plot holes, fix that grammar, and let the spelling police descend. Cultivate a strong group of betas and CPs, know the difference between the two, and utilize the heck out of them. They will be what makes your good book great, and gets the attention of your dream agent.
There you have it. The five most shared steps in launching your writing journey, from the first words on the page to the art of perfecting those little changes. We hope these tips help you get over the initial fear of writing, and give you a little boost to tell your tale! We can’t wait to read it!