I wrote the first part of this post back in 2011. It is as relevant now as it was back then… It highlights the mistakes we are all guilty of. No matter what form your writing may take, there are a few givens which always apply.
- Overly long sentences are to be avoided at all costs – GUILTY!
- Too much or too little punctuation, combined with unnecessary use is also to be avoided – GUILTY!
- Too much descriptive narrative is not desirable – GUILTY!
- Too little, or too much conversation between characters either annoys the reader, or bores them to death – GUILTY!
- Don’t be afraid to make your characters three dimensional – VERY GUILTY!
- Avoid overly long paragraphs – GUILTY!
- Determine what is the appropriate length for each chapter – not sure, then ask your colleagues for their advice. Better still take a look at some of the books in your personal library.
- Don’t be afraid to change a word when the offending word has another form far more suitable – GUILTY!
- Be highly critical of your own work, why, because your readers surely will be, that’s why – GUILTY!
Back then I was totally guilty of all of the above.
As I now sit reading through yesterdays contribution to my latest sci-fi manuscript I find myself scratching my head as to why I wrote each sentence in the way I did. At the time when that sentence first leapt from my mind onto this computer screen it made complete sense. But does it now – no, not really.
Don’t think that spending hours each day working your way through several chapters at a time will solve the problem either – it won’t. You need to take bite sized chunks and rewrite them. To do this you must be fresh and wide awake. These days after editing the previous day’s effort, I deliberately restrict my daily input to between two hundred to two hundred and fifty well chosen words. While working this way means that the novel will take longer than normal, take it from me when I say the end result will be worth it.
Stop for a cup of tea, coffee or even something stronger. If the weather is fine, get outside for a break away from those pesky words sitting there in front of you for an hour or so, they’ll still be there when you get back.
Above all, don’t treat your writing efforts as a chore. Relax; enjoy watching that story or article slowly unfold in front of you.
When your work is fired back to you from fellow writers whose opinion you value as trusted unbiased beta readers, don’t take umbrage at their suggestions. Take what they say on the chin, learn from them – I did.
Since 2011 I’ve come a long way in the writing game. I’ve learned a hell of a lot. With each successive novel, I can honestly say I have improved immeasurably.
You can to…