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Done with Your Draft—What Next?

If you’ve recently finished writing the first draft to your first book, congratulations! If you’re getting there, applying many of these tips in this oist are going to help you get that draft into great shape.

Maybe you have written numerous drafts and possibly already published a book or more. My hope is that you’ll keep refining your process so it’s more effective and streamline so as to optimize your time and effort. 

There are lots of methods to revising your draft, and every writer has different issues they need to address. So there isn’t a one size fits all approach to revision and self-editing. However, using a targeted approach in revision is the most effective way to get that manuscript in shape.

My signature online video course, 8 Weeks to Writing a Commercially Successful Novel, teaches writers this vitally important technique of using one specific lens when working through a draft, one scene or chapter at a time. Instead of using a random shotgun approach, trying to tighten a few sentences or replace one word with a better word, revising with an eye to a specific element, like microtension or sensory detail, will strengthen obvious weak areas and actually improve your draft! Continue Reading…

7 Ways to Improve Your Writing Craft

Today’s guest post is by Dario Villirilli.

To become a skilled writer you need to pour blood, sweat, and tears into your craft for years—and no amount of good advice will get you there overnight. That said, if you’re here, chances are you’ve already started your journey and you’re now looking to level up your writing skills.

Whether you write for fun or you want to make writing your career, the 7 tips in this article are sure to help you improve your craft and become a better writer.

1. Embrace outlining as your friend

It’s often said that there are two types of writers: those who over-plan and those who don’t plan at all. Regardless of which camp you belong to, know that the purpose of outlining is to help you make progress with your story, not to limit it.

When you tend to adhere too strictly to a predetermined plot, you risk being predictable and losing readers’ attention. If that’s you, next time you reach a point where you’re unsure about how things should unfold, let yourself stay in that uncertainty a bit longer and see where it leads you. You might be surprised at how the story can evolve and still fall into the overarching narrative.

If, on the other hand, you’re a pantser, consider pausing after your first 30-50 pages to channel that inspiration and draft a novel structure. You’ll find that having some beats mapped out can help you find the focus you need whenever you get stuck (plus, you’ll finish your book sooner!). Continue Reading…

Fast-Writing Secrets of C. S. Lewis

Today’s guest post is by Jim Denney.

C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, wrote 14 novels, at least 22 nonfiction books, several essay collections, and enough letters to fill many volumes. And he wrote them all in longhand with a steel-nibbed pen that he dipped in a bottle of ink.

Lewis had a rhythm as he wrote. He’d write six or seven words, whispering the words aloud as he wrote. Then he’d dip the pen in the ink—mentally composing the next phrase as he did so—and he’d write and whisper six or seven more words. Though Lewis used a dip-pen, a relic of the nineteenth century, he was an amazingly productive writer. Whenever he sat down to write—which he did almost daily—he wrote confidently, intuitively, and with astonishing speed.

In August 1932, C. S. Lewis wrote an entire draft of his debut novel—roughly 60,000 words—in just two weeks. It happened during a visit with his boyhood friend, Arthur Greeves, in Belfast. Lewis hadn’t planned to write during his stay, but somehow, amid the afternoon walks and late-night talks with Arthur, Lewis became inspired—and he wrote a novel. That novel, The Pilgrim’s Regress, was published in May 1933, nine months after he composed the first draft.

Throughout his career, Lewis wrote most of his novels in just two or three months. The key to his amazing speed is what I call “writing in overdrive,” the ability to write intuitively and without inhibition under the influence of unconscious inspiration. Here’s the good news: you can learn to write as Lewis did. Continue Reading…

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