Author Tip of the Week
Come and join us as authors share their tips with other authors. Each week a featured author will share what they have learned during the course of their career. Sharing is caring.
Feel free to post your own tip in the comments :) and share what you have learned.
Week 15 - Tip from Kelli A. Wilkins
Tip: Give yourself a break!
It’s okay to take a break from your writing every once in a while—in fact, for some people, it’s crucial! Unless you’re coming up on an absolute-can’t-miss deadline, it’s perfectly fine to declare a “non-writing” day. Use that day (or two) to do whatever you want. (Think of it as a reward for all of your hard work.) Go on a trip, visit friends, see a movie, do yard work, or read a book (one you didn’t write). Taking a mini-break is an easy way to avoid writing burnout and it gives you a chance to recharge and relax. When you’re ready, you’ll come back to your writing motivated and refreshed!
Week 14 - Tip from Lynn Lovegreen
Tip: Time is Important Between Drafts
Give yourself a break between drafts, at least a few days before you pick it up again. With fresh eyes, you'll be able to see what you want to revise more easily.
Week 13 - Tip from Rhonda Frankhouser
Tip: Get Out of the Way of your Inner Storyteller.
There are a million tricks that I use that might help other authors manage their time better or write with a more authentic voice, but the thing that has helped me more than anything else is - getting out of the way of my inner storyteller.
Writing is just like any other talent, the more you try to force yourself to produce something amazing, the more likely you are to write contrived, forced story threads and dialogue.
When I just sit down, put on a nice calm guitar instrumental and place my fingers on the keys, the characters tell the story for me.
My method to help this along? I read the last scene I wrote at my last session, then I just let go - don't think - don't guide - just let go. Pretty soon I'm a thousand words along going places I'd never expected to go. Try it. You'll be amazed at what your characters will say or do when you stop trying to control them.
Week 12 - Tips from Erik Therme
Tip: Focus on the Day to Day Writing Plan”
That’s way too daunting. And depressing. Instead, sit down and think, “I’m going to write today, and it might be only one page—or even one paragraph—and that’s OK.” And it really is. Life is busy. Paying your mortgage probably isn’t dependent upon completion of your book, so there’s no reason to rush. Writing isn’t a race. I’ve been writing since the age of fifteen, and it still takes me at least two years to finish a novel. Go at your own pace.
Tip: Keep Writing & Hone Your Skills
It’s been said that talent is a cheap commodity, and I’ve come to believe that’s close to the truth. I’ve witnessed excellent authors languish in sales, while horrible writers excel. Talent is absolutely needed to get the ball rolling, but hard work, perseverance, and plain old dumb luck are just as important. And even then, there’s no guarantee. Sometimes books resonate with readers, sometimes they don’t. It’s as simple as that. All you can do is keep writing, hone your skills, and hope the next book will capture the attention of the masses.
Tip: Find a Good Balance
I think the biggest mistake a new author can make is to believe that once your book is published it’s going to find an audience on its own. That might be the case if your name is James Patterson or John Grisham, but the majority of authors—myself included—work hard to market their books. A successful writer is always writing and marketing. The trick is finding a good balance.
Tip: Don't be afraid to write badly.
Don't be afraid to write badly. First drafts are meant to be a mess. This is the time to pour everything onto the page to see what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to write badly. Just get it down and don’t look back. If I get to a scene that’s causing me problems, I’ll simply write INSERT CHASE SCENE HERE and keep going. Seriously. I’ve done this. And so have other authors. It’s allowed. Everything can be fixed later.
Tip: Don't Be Intimidated
The beauty of writing is that it can be done by anyone. I’ve read terrible novels written by college graduates and brilliant novels written by high school dropouts. The important thing is not to be intimidated. For some the act of writing comes naturally, for others it’s endless hard work. A good writer knows that you can always learn something new, whether it be from connecting with other authors, reading voraciously, or taking writing classes.
Week Week 11 - Tip from Mel Teshco
Tip: Cut Irrelevant Words
My tip would be to cut irrelevant words, chop, chop, chop! Make every word count and every sentence shine. Even if you're a great story teller, repetitive words, rambling sentences and telling instead of showing will dilute the story line.
Example. If only she had known exactly how tall he was she would have worn her heels and felt much more confident...
Becomes something like this:
If only she'd worn heels to match his great height.
The latter is more immediate and draws the reader in.
Week 10 - Tip from Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist and DIY Book Platform app developer
Tip: Debut Authors, Get Your Website Early
If you are a debut author, hire a WordPress web designer and go live with a professionally designed author website a year before your pub date.
Week 9 - Tip from Kelli A. Wilkins
Tip: Read Your Manuscript Out Loud.
It may sound strange, but before you submit your short story or novel, you need to read it out loud. Why? Because as you read, you’ll hear things you don’t see. Go to page one and start reading. Don’t shout, but don’t whisper, either. You have to talk loud enough so you hear what you’re saying. If you stumble over a sentence, it probably needs to be edited. When you trip over a missing word or hear the same phrase repeated, you’ll stop and think, “That didn’t sound right.” Make the edit, and then read that paragraph or sentence again to make sure it’s okay. It’s also a great way to catch any last-minute spelling issues. Spellcheck won’t know that you meant “quiet” when you typed “quite”. This is always my last step before submitting any story, and it works!
Week 8 (Feb 27th) - Tip from Ruth Kaufman
Tip: Only New Pages Count
When working on my first medieval, I'd spend hours researching, thinking I was "writing." After a lightbulb moment at a conference when Catherine Coulter said only new pages count as writing, I set weekly page goals (daily seemed harder to manage). In today’s fast-paced market, new pages and more product are more important than ever...because for most of us, one book won’t be enough to generate sales and readership. So establish your new pages goal in addition to any research, plotting, revising, publishing, marketing/advertising/promotion and social media, etc. to consistently increase your output.
Week 7 - Tip from Soliel De Bella - Published Author with TWB Press/Amore' Moon Publishing
Tip: Write when you can with no guilt!
Don't compare yourself to other writers! They may have a part time job, no job, no kids. I myself am a full time mother of two, I own a full time daycare and my day starts early and ends late. I am 43 years old and have young children. I sit and write in tiny spurts. My tip is to not get down on yourself if you don't sit for three hours at a time. I have four books I have written in a little over a year and trust me, I write in tiny spurts when I can. I have learned to block out all noise, gather my thoughts, pour out my creativity and fix it all later. I take a note pad if I take my kids to the park or in the backyard and throw it on the computer later. I have learned to stop stressing out about how much I write compared to others, because my life simply doesn't allow enough time. I am not a late night person. I'm tired and need my rest so I write all through the day or maybe every ten days. There is nothing fixed for me and trust me I am very anal in many ways. But I have learned to let it go and have fun with it. When I can, I sit and finish what I have started. My life is consumed by my job and family, but I do make time for the one thing I love and that's to create my very own story, a story no-one else can replicate. What a feeling!
Week 6 - Tip from Peter Gulgowski
Tip: Study Your Favorites!
Take several of your favorite books and turn them into a writing textbook! Write out what made them your favorite. Then, go through and pick a certain chapter — perhaps a favorite that you remember. Study the text. Go through word-choice, conventions (we can all use a refresher on the comma and the semi-colon), and sentence structure. Also, try doing a character study within the chapter. What subtle differences makes them unique? Is it their voice? Is it the information they hold? Take everything you’ve gained and implement this into your own writing. Also, you can find other elements to study and turn this method into your own study tool!
Week 5 - Tip from Lisa Carlisle
Tip: Write in Short Bursts
It's much easier to commit to short bursts of writing, such as 15 minutes, than for longer ones. I recently switched to this method with an app on my phone, and have found:
It keeps me motivated on my project
It keeps me focused on writing, than being distracted by the Internet
It ups my word counts, as I want to make that short amount of time productive
Sometimes, I'll set the timer for 15 minutes, other times 25. Or, I'll be so energized and caught up in my scene that I'll continue for another burst. Give it a go and see if it works for you!
Week 4 - Tip from Madison Sevier
Tip: Do your research.
If you're going to cover a topic that any reader might be familiar with or could perform a Google search of the foreign words you use, facts or subject matter you've written about... Make sure your story rings true. Just because it's fiction, doesn't mean it can't be questioned. Also, proofread, edit, proofread and repeat. Don't pump out books like a machine if you haven't done any of the above. Readers will notice and they will bring attention to your shortcomings and inferior work isnt fair to your readers or yourself. Even if your cover is amazing, that won't make up for shoddy work. Quality is always better than quantity.
Week 3 - Tip from Kelly Moran
Tip: END ON A WOW
Chapters should end with a cliffhanger or a revelation. Newbies often want to wrap things up like a mini sitcom and go on. You want the readers to say, "Okay, one more chapter," not put the book down. Keep them interested. Keep them turning the page.
Week 2 - Tip from Anna Campbell
Tip: My author tip sounds obvious but it’s less obvious than it sounds – finish the darn book!
When it comes to writing, a lot of people start out with great enthusiasm and ambition which will usually carry them through the first few chapters (for me, it’s the first 100 pages). But then things get tough and much more like hard work than the joy of spontaneous creation. That wonderful vision of what you wanted to produce is losing a bit of its shine, and your weasel mind is telling you your current idea is terrible, and instead it offers up a much better idea. Don’t trust this – believe me, you’ll run out of enthusiasm for the new idea too at exactly the same stage. Instead, sit down and keep plugging away at the story you’re writing, even if you think you’re producing complete dross. And gradually your enthusiasm will return and help you make it to those magic words, “the end.” There are things you learn through writing an entire novel that no course or helpful book or mentor can teach you. If nothing else, it teaches persistence. And persistence is a winning quality in this strange game of being an author. Good luck!
Week 1 - Tip from Elle Boon
Tip: Write Everyday
Carve out time to do it. Don't make excuses for why you can't. If you want to write, then sit down and do it, then go back and fix it later. You'll be amazed at how much you enjoy reading what you've written, and the creativity that will then flow as you read what you've written. The story that will come from you just because you took the time to "Just write" might just be your best. I'm a pantster, and this is how I do it. Start writing today, not tomorrow.