Writing Tips: The Fundamentals
- remembering the basics::
writers perfect their craft, often they question the progress,
or lack of progress, they are making in their careers. Bill
Loewenstein creates a list that reminds us of key writing tips.
these when a project is stalled. Dust off a copy of This
Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff. Visit a paperback book store
where an old copy of Edward Morgan Forster's The Longest
waits to kick start your next story.
Renew your commitment to the basics with these ten tips. And
scroll to the bottom of this page for tips on writing a query
letter, a professional method for literary permissions, and
finding literary agents.
Fundamentals - Ten Tips
Read fiction. Read non-fiction. Try to understand why you
like certain writers.
Read with an eye to analyze how different writers write. Don't
be afraid to try different writing styles as a way of developing
your own style.
Write. Write letters to friends. Write letters
to the editor. Keep a journal. Write just for the practice
of writing. You don't have to write the great American novel
as your first effort. Write descriptions of people, places
and things. Write about emotions.
Use short essays to sketch something that has caught your
attention. Write something every day. If you want to be a
writer, then start writing.
Practice writing poetry. Poetry captures
moods, places, people in the briefest description, but when
chosen with care, those words blossom forth with more than
is on the page.
Take a writing class. Check out your local
community college, or go on-line to sign up for a distance
learning writing course. Get feedback from others on your
Join a writers' group. Groups may be listed
at a local bookstore, library, or on-line. Get to know people
who enjoy writing and learn from them.
Read books and magazines on writing. Check
these out at your local library or bookstore. Educate yourself
on different styles of writing.
Revise, revise, revise. Rework the writing
that you have done in the past to see if you can make it better.
Review what you have written a month, or a year ago, and see
if your writing is improving. Use past writing as a way to
continue a story.
Don't get writer's block. Writer's block
means that you are waiting for perfection to appear on your
page. It's a long wait. Start with less than perfection just
to get something on the page. Then try to make it better.
Get published. Check out the books available
to direct you to potential publishers of your writing. Many
small publishers of fiction or poetry may pay in copies of
magazines or books, but it is still your writing being published.
Many non-fiction magazines may pay more, but require a series
of queries prior to accepting your story proposal.
Get familiar with the requirements of each publisher. Try
to find ways to rewrite non-fiction that will play to the
interests of different publications.
One story rewritten to serve the interests of different magazines
thus becomes more profitable if you are hoping to make a living,
either part-time or full-time, from your writing.
Persevere. Don't give up. Most writers are
not successful at first in selling their work. It takes time.
Although it is art, it is still work. If what you write provides
you with some satisfaction, or allows you the ability to express
yourself in ways that allow you to grow - as an individual,
and as a writer - then your time has been well spent.
additional reading and to continue improving your writing, the
editors suggest: Peter Barry's "Beginning Theory: An
Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory"
and "Perrine's Sound and Sense" edited by Thomas
Arp. Also read "Spreading the Word: Editors on Poetry,
compiled by Stephen Corey and Warren Slesinger.
Loewenstein teaches creative writing in South Carolina and advises
broadcast and print journalism students on writing, reporting,
and the craft of storytelling.
:: Finding a literary agent
the Cover Letter
Attending a writing conference
We write with the
porch light on, expecting at any moment
that either truth or irony will appear on the doorstep.
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