Writing advice for a first-timer

Typewriter Keys by Kristin Nador of the WANA commons

As we go about our business as writers, we have to learn an awful lot of tricks of the trade to help us stay focused and finish what we start. Because this is a solitary pursuit, with projects initiated and abandoned in private, it is all too easy to run off the rails and never make it to the final page.

I am by no means an authority on the subject, but here are a few hints that might help you get all the way to the final full stop.

Sit somewhere comfortable, I like to have a view so that I can daydream my way through the story as I write (if I can’t visualize the story, I can’t write the scene). My favorite things to watch are clouds and cars.

Disconnect the internet, seriously, unplug it at the wall. There are too many opportunities for distraction online and you need to get away from them. I have often fallen into the trap of telling myself I’m writing when I’m reading about plotting or characterization and, although these things are important, I end the day with very little movement on the manuscript.

Use a standard manuscript format if you are worried about it (Times New Roman, 12 pt, double spaced). Your work looks neater, it is easier to revise when it comes time to edit, and you will have less work to do when you are ready to start submitting your MS to agents/publishers.

Start at the beginning, write until you reach the end. To do this you have to know where all those things are. The most basic form of an outline is to know the beginning and end of your story (if you don’t know where it ends when you start you will have a hard time sorting that out later). You don’t have to stick to it and your plot may change as you write, but you can’t get to the end if you don’t have any idea of where it is.

Try to avoid going back and editing what you have written until you have finished the 1st draft. I will sometimes read a few paragraphs of what I wrote the day before to get my mind into the swing of things. I also like to stop writing in the middle of a sentence so that I can easily jump back in the next day. What I don’t do is start editing my MS before I have finished it. I will never finish my story if I do this because I will always be working on something I’ve already done and I will never add new words.

These are my most basic tips for a new writer to get that story written, what are yours? Please share your tricks in the comments below.

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