[found on jodyhedlund.blogspot.com; by Jody Hedlund]
“How can we know if we’re crossing the line and making our main characters too unlikable?
We hear this writing mantra over and over: Add tension to every page, increase the conflict, and get our main characters (MCs) into trouble. In humble obedience to the rules of fiction, we try to heap mountains of problems upon our MCs.
We do this externally in the form of villains, trauma, or drama. And we do it internally in the form of emotional struggles, character weaknesses, or relationship problems. A story wouldn’t be a page-turner without the conflict to move it forward.
However, at the beginning when we’re trying to establish the problems and the need for character growth, we may tip the scales too far. Yes, our MCs need flaws, things they have to work through as the story progresses (aka character arc). But in the process of making our MCs imperfect, we can’t turn them into bitter, whiny, selfish, angry, mean, cold-hearted jerks.
I’ve learned that in making my MCs have real, everyday, human problems, I have to be careful not to shape them into the kind of people no one wants to hang around for 300 plus pages.”
For more writing tips from Jody Hedlund, click here.
[found on goinswriter.com; by Jeff Goins]
- Start small. 300 words per day is plenty. John Grisham began his writing career as a lawyer. He got up early every morning and wrote one page. You can do the same. (Need some ideas for getting started? Check out these book ideas.)
- Have an outline. Write up a table of contents that guide you. Then break up each chapter into a few sections. Think of your book in terms of beginning, middle, and end. Anything more complicated will get you lost. If you need help, read this book: Do the Work.
- Have a set time to work on your book every day. If you want to take a day or two off per week, schedule that as time off. Don’t just let the deadline pass. And don’t let yourself off the hook.
- Choose a unique place to write. This needs to be different from where you do other activities. The idea is to make this a special space so that when you enter it, you’re ready to work on your project.”
For more tips from GoinsWriter, click here.
[found on chronicle.com; by Michael C. Munger]
“Write, then squeeze the other things in. Put your writing ahead of your other work. I happen to be a “morning person,” so I write early in the day. Then I spend the rest of my day teaching, having meetings, or doing paperwork. You may be a “night person” or something in between. Just make sure you get in the habit of reserving your most productive time for writing. Don’t do it as an afterthought or tell yourself you will write when you get a big block of time. Squeeze the other things in; the writing comes first.”
For more writing tips by Michael C. Munger, click here.
[found on bookcoaching.com; by Judy Cullins]
“Stop passive sentence construction.
When you write in passive voice, your writing slides along into long sentences that slow your readers down, even bore them.
Before you put your final stamp of approval on your writing, circle all the “is,” “was” and other passive verbs like: begin, start to, seems, appears, have, and could. Use your grammar check to count your passives. Aim for 2-4% only.
Instead of, ”Make sure that your name is included on all your household accounts and investments.” Passive culprits include “Make” and “is included.” Create more clarity with this revision,” Include your name on all household accounts and investments to keep your own credit alive after your divorce.”
For more tips on writing from Judy Cullins, click here.
[found on huffingtonpost.com; by Writer's Relief Staff]
“Learn the art of conflict. Creating a powerful conflict and weaving it tightly throughout the story is a tricky thing to master, and can take years of practice. The catharsis that a reader will experience at the resolution, however, is worth the struggle. Conflict is what makes us interested in outcome. And your conflict must affect your characters in a way that forces them to act and grow as a result. A story with a weak conflict that leaves the characters exactly as they were at the start won’t be satisfying; your story won’t make a lasting impression.
Here’s a tip: The best way to learn how to write conflict is by reading it. The next time you’re reading a short story or novel, take note of how the author presents the main conflict and the specific ways in which the characters react to it.”