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message 1: by Willa (last edited Jun 10, 2016 05:22PM) (new)

Willa Valentine (paper.seas) (paperseas)
My Advice
( will be updated so check the numbers )
01. Don't feel the need to edit things right away! There's always time to go back.
02. It actually helps me to re-read my things, because sometimes I don't really read my writing as I write it, I just see it in my head. Re-reading can help you fix what was wrong and note what to focus on writing in the future.
03. Description is a powerful tool. Use it well, and use it often. It's always better to have more than you need than to have not enough; if there's too much description you can cut it back later.
04. Vary. Your. Sentences. It's much more pleasing to read something with long and short sentences than it is to read something with only one type. My recommendation here is to try writing a few long/short sentences and then switching to another type.
05. Sharing your writing should happen at some point. The best people to share it with are typically your friends or your family members, but if you're someone who worries too much about what they'll think, it might be good to share it with people you don't know beforehand.

message 2: by LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (last edited Jun 10, 2016 10:20PM) (new)

LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments My Advice
Note: most of this is from my 7th grade English teacher. A shout out to her!

1) Don't overuse "was" or other forms of it. It can make your writing sound like you're just stating facts instead of telling a story. Instead use vivid verbs that give your writing more personality and flavor.
It was hot and sunny. The season was summer.
The sun beat down on us, the summer heat so thick you could almost taste it.

Of course, if it sounds ridiculous to you and you're bending over backwards to not use "was," it's up to you. Take this sentence:

Today's date was January 1st.

It'll take you forever to not say "was" and still get across this idea.

2) Show, don't tell. This is a commonly stated saying, but it's common to see it not in practice. It's a little similar to Advice #1: either weave the description into something else, or let the reader infer it.

Emily felt sad.
Emily's face fell, and she looked down at the ground. "Oh," she whispered, blinking back tears.

3) Use more vivid verbs instead of piling on unnecessary adjectives/adverbs or non-descriptive action words (ex. "did," "walked," etc).

I ran quickly towards the bus.
I sprinted towards the bus.

"Wow, that's great," I said.
"Wow, that's great," I exclaimed.
"Wow, that's great," I muttered.

Notice in the 2nd example that making a verb vivid can totally change the tone and meaning of the sentence.

As other people have commented, don't take this to the extreme! If you're just saying something, you don't have to say something completely dorky to absolutely avoid "said" at all costs. Otherwise, if you only pop out the really descriptive words, they'll lose their impact, while you will sound like you are just reciting a thesaurus.

3) Read your work out loud. You might miss important errors, inconsistencies, or sentence fluency problems if you only read it in your head. Reading it out loud helps you slow down, and thus spot errors better.

4) If you have no ideas, just freewrite: brainstorm, scribble, and just write a summary of a random story.

5) Plan things out, or get a general idea of where stuff is going. It's great to start with a freewrite, but if you don't use structure, you might end up with passages that are not relevant to the plot or loose ends/plot holes.

6) Make unique characters that can't be reduced to one label, such as "the jock" or "the mean girl." People, and characters, can seem like stereotypes at first, but as you get to know a person better, and as the reader gets to know a character better, they should become more distinct. Plus, many stock characters are just plain offensive.

7) Write down loose ends or ideas. That way, you can see what's going on all at once, and hopefully tie a bunch of them together to take down two birds with one stone. (I recommend post-it notes.)

8) Be careful with purple prose. Some writers are amazing with poetic and figurative language, but if it gets to the point where it unintentionally obscures what's going on in the story, I'd say scrap it. Many people just think automatically if they don't understand poetic language, that it's automatically deep and meaningful and they just aren't smart enough to get it, but use purple prose with purpose and don't just throw it in to make yourself feel smarter. Also, make sure people can at least figure out what's going on. That's not saying you can't experiment!

9) Use your judgment. I know this seems stupid b/c I spent a lot of time just giving you rules, but if something you're writing doesn't sound good to you, change it! It's important to get advice, but you're the one writing, so the choice is ultimately yours to make. If you're bending over backwards and what you're writing sounds ridiculous, don't do it!

I'll probably add more later.

message 3: by Ema (new)

Ema (gee-fiera) [just my opinion and totally unwarranted, but the "said" this is not great advice bc it can cause people to reach for ridiculous descriptors and distract readers from the actual action]

message 4: by dany (new)

dany (elothwen)
Gee(Fiera) wrote: "[just my opinion and totally unwarranted, but the "said" this is not great advice bc it can cause people to reach for ridiculous descriptors and distract readers from the actual action]"

I was about to say until I saw your comment; said is not dead. Definitely don't use it all the time, but unless the thing they say can't be interpreted as something that was 'exclaimed' or 'questioned', be simple.

message 5: by Willa (new)

Willa Valentine (paper.seas) (paperseas) Yeah, I agree with Gee and Dany, but I love all the rest of the advice! I'm now considering create a huge Post-It Note collage on my wall that tells the plot of the story :D

LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments Gee(Fiera) wrote: "[just my opinion and totally unwarranted, but the "said" this is not great advice bc it can cause people to reach for ridiculous descriptors and distract readers from the actual action]"

OK, totally true. Everything in moderation, you know. Some people try way too hard to not use "said" at all and it sounds like they barfed up a thesaurus! If it does not sound good to you, you are the author, so you have to decide what to write.

message 7: by kaya (new)

kaya (ananats) | 39 comments
#1. Don't wait for the perfect moment of inspiration - if you do you'll be waiting for a long time. Write whenever you can find time, and especially if you have a good idea. Often a book will have a certain 'tone', and if you take a break the 'tone' might end up changing halfway through the story.

#2. Read as much as you can, particularly authors that write very well. What you read impacts on your writing as much as anything else. I read a weird mixture of action books, children's books, historical fiction, fantasy and sci-fi; I tend to write sci-fi/fantasy stories or realistic fiction. Dystopian stories are something I'm not so good at, since my preferences of reading material do not extend to books such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, 1984, We, and other books along those lines.

#3. Research well. If you're writing a story set in 1930s Germany, include the anti-Jewish sentiments of the time, and add things that hint at the beginning of a war. Look up the history of the country, read books set then, read books about then. Inform yourself. If it's about a fantastical jungle with a mysterious tribe hidden in it, look up real jungles and 'lost tribes'.

message 8: by marthie ! (new)

marthie ! (marthie) | 17 comments
1 | although it's not good to pick random words out of a thesaurus, it can always be good to have a list of words on hand that can replace 'said' so you don't say it every single time. they can often give more emotion or clarity to your story, so here's a list, if you want one. (view spoiler)

2 | while on the topic of dialogue, a good idea in any story is to vary your quotations. this will also add some diversity in your sentences. [ i don't know how else to put this; it'll make more sense to demonstrate it. ]
"i'm hungry. what's for lunch?" said henry.
henry said, "i'm hungry. what's for lunch?"
"i'm hungry," henry said. "what's for lunch?"
3 | i wouldn't fully recommend attempting to write if you have writer's block, or even if you just stumbled across a difficult part of your story; you'll end up just wasting a lot of time. instead i usually read books in similar styles to what i'm writing to give myself more inspiration.

message 9: by Ema (new)

Ema (gee-fiera) I would say, for advice:
1) Don't force yourself to write. It will generally seem like it's not working and you would probably have to rework it later. If you still feel you should write, try something else, like just getting a stream of consciousness down.

2) Be conscious of your dialogue. I've seen some brilliant dialogue that sounds like nothing any human would say. Don't make all your characters sound like an essay bc it's "good writing". Take in mind the age of your characters and the time period, and write your dialogue like that. Slang, "um's" and all.

message 10: by sucre'd fiend (new)

sucre'd fiend (sucredfiend) | 25 comments
The only tip I have to offer at this time is use your senses. It helps with describing scenes and further developing characters, depending on the sense you focus on most.

Lyd's Archive (7/'15 to 6/'18) (violabelcik) | 42 comments I use said a decent amount of time because often other dialogue words sound a bit stupid. Here are my usual ones


LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments Rea wrote: "I have no professional tips for writing because heck what do I know about writing a good story. But I have two rules that seem to be working out not bad for me.

1) If you're not confused by the cl..."

So what do you mean by "confused by the climax?" As in you were so inspired it just came out and you don't know what the heck you just wrote? Or you just don't know what's going on?

LilyCat (Agent of SHIELD)-- on hiatus :( (lilycat_reads) | 12 comments PinkLoki(Shine) RULER OF: CrimsonPeak, Asgard, Jotunheim, Midgard, AvengersTower wrote: "I'm still struggling with "SAID IS DEAD"!"

Basically, the only rule is use your personal judgment.

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