Advice is a stranger; if he’s welcome he stays for the night; if not, he leaves the same day. ~Malagasy Proverb
It’s surprising since I published my Bullets book how many people have been asking me for advice on how to write.
As if I know anything.
But in an attempt to look like I do know something I’ve come up with a few sound words of advice. Things that I have learned since I joined up with two awesome ladies, Heather Leighton Dickson and Jean E. Pendziwol, who have taught me everything I know.
First thing: Read. Yep good writers need to read good writing. So go off to your favourite book store and buy books in the genre that you’re writing. But not just any books. Ask a bookstore employee what good quality books they recommend and then buy at least five of them. Then read them, pen in hand, and underline, circle, write comments in the margins, and dog ear all of those important pages, taking note of how certain scenes are played out, how description is handled, how dialogue is controlled. You get the picture.
Then read the book again. The first time you’re reading you’ll be more apt - if the book is truly a great one - to turn the pages a little too quickly and you won’t be paying attention to how the author got your attention in the first place. It deserves a second read through and you’ll gain so much more the second time around. It’s sort of like learning by osmosis. You kind of just soak it in. You may not be able to say specifically what makes good writing but you’ll know it when you see it in your own. And you’ll know it when you don’t and you’ll go about changing it. And that shows great maturity in a writer.
Second, recognize and embrace these wise words: There is no such thing as writing, only rewriting and more rewriting. I remember when Jean E. Pendziwol told me this. I shuddered. Wasn’t my writing good enough already? I had, after all, gone through my book a second time. Wasn’t that enough? Apparently not. As it turned out, as I worked with Jeannie and other editors I learned so much more and my story blossomed because of it. I watched my characters come to life, their conversations became more animated and my scenes played out before me like a movie. It had taken on a whole new level. It was a huge learning curve for me and it took time, but it was worth it.
And that about sums it up. I know there’s so much more to learn but perhaps these little nutshells of wisdom will get you started on the right path. Good luck and happy writing!
My journey as an author, giving voice to child soldiers.