FAQ About Writing

If you have a question I haven't answered; please get in touch via email - cswimsey@gmail.com.

What writing tips have you found most useful?

All writing tips are useful, but the most important thing to remember is that there are no absolute rules. The skill is knowing which tips work best for you and which don't. My biggest barrier to good writing was always adjectives and adverbs in abundance. As soon as I got hold of a thesaurus and started using stronger nouns and verbs - or totally rephrasing my sentence, my writing improved. I still have the adjective and adverb police in my head, and am gutted if someone manages to find some in my writing which are not necessary for the prose.

Other useful tips are:
  • Show don't tell. If Ben is frightened, then saying "Ben was frightened" puts across the message but is, for the reader, devoid of that emotion. We can't feel Ben's fear, and so the writing is flat. It is best to show the reader the emotion, through Ben. "Ben looked around and froze. His breath stuck in his throat, and his lips began to quiver. He could feel his heart beating hard, knocking bruises into his chest."
  • Tell the story as close to the character as possible - tell it through them. Tell the story through their thoughts, their actions, what they can feel, can touch. You can have multiple points of view, but each time you change, keep close to the character who is currently furthering the narrative.
  • Don't edit as you go along. I'm really bad at this. If you edit as you write, you lose the flow of the ideas, and could get stuck. Your work may never get finished. The editing process begins after your first draft, when the editing chainsaw is applied. Writing is re-writing. Then re-writing some more, and repeat until your prose shines.
Where do you get your ideas from?

The answer to this question could be infinite.  Idea's are all around, you just have to tune in.  

The idea for the my short story "Eternity" came from a halloween writing challenge I set for an online writing group I was running at the time.  This sort of writing challenge was also the inspiration for Mary Shelly's Frankinstein.  I needed to write something spooky, but I didn't really want to go into full horror mode.

The idea for the short story "the Platform", came from a picture I saw in an art gallery.  The picture showed a dark and dingy station platform in the 1960's.  My imagination got going to what that platform may have seen in the past.  The story of the wartime evacuee's journey was born.

The story "A Dream of Christmas", came from watching a documentary on the Christmas Truce of 1914.  I was touched by the documentary and wanted to bring the story to life.  I saw a message in the story - it was the Germans who initiated the truce.  They didn't want to fight.  With prejudice still in existence at the moment, albeit lessening with time, I thought the story was very apt.  The men on each side were just the same as each other.  It was a real story of human nature over adversity.

Every object, sound, smell, picture, photograph, person in the street is a potential story idea.  Just flipping through a magazine can give you ideas, or an interesting story published in the paper.  The limit is your own imagination.

What hardships do you face as a writer, and how do you get over them?

Being a writer isn't easy - there are so many challenges that writer's come up against on a daily basis.  Self doubt, rejections, losing motivation; and that's just the start of it.  If you'd like to know more about what it's like to be a writer, or you'd like some tips, because you are a writer, I've started a series on this blog which is waiting for you to read it:

Image from www.get-free-wallpapers.com 
Defence Against the Dark Arts - Tips for Your Writer's Toolbox.

Go to Part 1 - Self Doubt
Go to Part 2 - Rejection and Bad Reviews
Go to Part 3 - Procrastination

1 comment:

White Poppy said...

The writing tip your wrote with the Ben example really helped. I never thought about that, though, nevertheless, I still follow by that rule religiously.