WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT WITHOUT THOUGHT, just allow the creative spirit to produce your magic. Then go through it with your editorial hat on, and revise to include the following points.
Have characters, will travel
You have an idea where your story is going, but no clear destination; it just develops as your characters take over. Look then at the ending and how they arrived there. Perhaps you set the reader up for one sort of story, then handed out something quite different. You will probably need to scrap the opening and rewrite it from an entirely different perspective.
Aim for clarity
Use simple words and easily assimilated sentences. Your writing should be direct and honest. Otherwise you sound as if you’re trying too hard to sound clever, and only frustrate the reader.
The reader is not stupid
Trust the reader to be able to fill in small details. Give enough information to develop your characters and to move the story forward, but don’t try to describe everything, or report every movement.
The reader is not psychic
Be specific. Although readers can be trusted to fill in small parts of the picture, they can’t make the big leap into your mind. Details that are relevant and interesting must be included if what is in your head is to appear as a vivid scene on your page.
Entertain the reader
This holds true for non-fiction as much as for fiction.
Show your work to someone prepared to be brutal. Ask them to mark on the page places where interest drops, confusion arises, or other problems they perceive.
Look at others’ work to see how you could have done it, could have kept the reader’s interest better. If you are thoroughly entertained by it, see how the author has achieved this.
— Stephen Gritton
HELLO GUESTS AND MEMBERS ALL!
As you can see Writers’ Dock now sports a new front page.
Apart from its exceptional good looks, we’re excited about it for another reason – the ease it gives us in allowing us to sharing information with you!
You’ll now be able to come to WRITERSDOCK for regular tips on writing and the publishing industry at large without having to log into our forums.
Pop back often for updates.
— Stephen Gritton
HERE IS THE ESSENTIAL do and don’t list, the numerous publishers’ dislikes and how to fix them. Essential reading for an author who wants to get his story in the mainstream. Read on and fix those simple mistakes and avoid that “no!”
Write as though it’s happening now, not as though you’re telling the past.
2. COMPLEX PAST
Where possible, keep past tense simple.
He had gone.
write: He went.
3. WRONG POINT OF VIEW
Write from the view point of the most involved character, not an onlooker.
4. AUTHOR INTRUSION
He wondered if she would leave, and considered apologising
write: Would she leave? Perhaps he should apologise.
Publishers want to read a story, not read the author telling a story. Keep the author out of it.
5. PASSIVE VOICE
He is being watched by the children.
write: The children watch him.
6. SECOND ACTION WRITTEN FIRST
She fell to the floor when David hit her.
write: David hit her. She fell to the floor.
7. NAMING IN DIALOGUE
To avoid speech tags some writers fall into using names in dialogue, which isn’t natural.
“Don’t hit me, David”
“You’re asking for it, Mary.”
“Don’t hit me.” Mary shrank away from him.
“You’re asking for it.” His fists clenched.
These are action tags.
8. UNNECESSARY TERMS
Suddenly she noticed his presence. His figure stood out in the crowd.
write: Suddenly she noticed him. He stood out in the crowd.
9. SIMULTANEOUS ACTIONS
She packed her bag and went to the car.
write: She packed her bag then went to the car.
10. WHEN ACTIONS ARE SIMULTANEOUS KEEP VERBS IN AGREEMENT
As she drove tears were rolling down her face.
write: As she drove, tears rolled down her face.
11. FALLING EYES
Her eye fell on a piece of paper.
write: Her gaze fell on a piece of paper.
12. WEAK CHARACTERS
The villain in your story must be a worthy opponent of the hero.
13. WRONG SENTENCE LENGTH FOR MOOD
Keep sentences short to portray tension, longer for relaxation.
14. TELLING INSTEAD OF SHOWING
Show a character’s feelings by creating pictures. Think how a movie would portray someone’s mood.
— Stephen Gritton