Tag Archive - writing tips

Get Your Story in Hand Using Shorthand

Today’s guest post is by Tawnya Showalter.

If you’re a journalist, you may already be acquainted with shorthand. It’s a high-speed method of recording interviews or taking notes, using a simpler set of characters in place of the alphabet.

But shorthand isn’t just for journalists and college students anymore—it’s for authors too.

Writing your first draft—or sketching out a scene—in shorthand can significantly impact the structure of your novel. It helps shore up common pitfalls associated with first drafts, making your editing process a breeze.

Balderdash. Utter nonsense, you say. How can writing quicker really make such a difference? Continue Reading…

Famous Authors’ Bad Writing Advice

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at an excerpt from a previous post titled Words of Advice from Famous Authors That Are Just Wrong.

I imagine this post is bound to draw some criticism, but bring it on!

Maybe it’s just me, but when I read pithy statements from famous authors that are hailed as sage advice, I often scratch my head. Based on my experience as an author, sometimes the savvy advice is more rosemary or thyme than sage.

This silly analogy makes me think of spices, which leads me to think how everyone’s tastes are different. You may love cumin in your chili (I do), but a friend of mine says it tastes like dust and she can’t stand it.

So what’s my point about sage advice? That just because some really famous author said it, doesn’t mean it really applies to you. What works as gospel for one writer may be madness for another.

So it may be wise to take such advice with a grain of salt (unless you don’t like salt—so maybe that expression doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in this context). For you, maybe that great advice is just plain wrong. Continue Reading…

7 Quick Ways to Whip Your Novel into Shape

Whipping a novel into shape is a daunting task for many writers. The pain involved with trying to trim down and shape up all those scenes discourages us.

And then there’s the battle with self-esteem and frustration while trying to rework those rebellious passages. Not all that unlike the effort it takes to implement a health-and-fitness regime in our lives.

But there’s good news! Unlike fad diets, there are plenty of easy (painless) ways to help whip your novel in shape.

That’s not to say these tips are a cure-all to major flaws in a novel. But similar to the 30-minutes-a-day-get-in-shape-fast programs, here are some simple things writers can do to tighten sentences, shed unwanted words, and tone and shape the whole “body” of work. Continue Reading…

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