You know, I’m pretty much addicted to writing advice. I mean, psh, I devour writing advice like I'm at a cheap Vegas all-you-can-eat buffet. I’m basically drowning in fiction tips.
But over the years, these 5 pieces of advice stuck with me. #1 even completely transformed my life. I see these 5 tips as the absolutely most essential, especially for aspiring authors. I’d feel terribly guilty if I didn’t share them with you.
Essential Advice #5: “Get the story moving fast!
Novels today are competing with a lot of other entertainment. I think it’s important to grab a reader with the first 25 words or so.”
Essential Advice #4. "Read your writing ALOUD
Don't read in your head, don't mumble - actually read the entire piece aloud, projecting. Reading it to another person? Better."
This is writing tough love. No avoiding awkward writing when speaking it.
Essential Advice #3. "Keep conflict coming!
It’s not enough to get your protagonist in some kind of trouble on page 1; you have to keep building complications into the story. If everything is easy for your characters, the story will stall out and die."
Essential Advice #2. Things must get WORSE
“You’ll hate me. But in 6 months, you’ll be a better writer
From this point forward, you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Loves, hates.
Instead of characters knowing, you must now give details that allow readers to know them."
Essential Advice #1 (The GOAT tip): “Writing is Tireless and committed collaboration. We must strike down the insidious lie that a book is the creation of an individual soul laboring in isolation."
In short, BE OPEN TO FEEDBACK! Take advice. Your work can always be better, you can always be better. It’s other people, especially our audience, who help us improve most. Listening, (not accepting everything you hear, mind you!), but really listening to feedback had been the best way for me to improve, from writing to life. It sounds dumb, obvious, silly, even. “oh, of course, I listen!” But I know for the longest time, I didn’t. I heard, but I didn’t listen. I’d qualify the advice, or make it less seriously based on the advice-givers credentials, or think that my work was the exception to rule because of some obvious detail the advice-giver had missed. But when I started really listening to all my audience feedback, that was when I produced work my audience really loved. It was also when my writing went from meh to muy bien. This simple John Green tip saved my work.
I like to review these 5 tips every day before writing. They’ve changed my writing and my life, and I hope they help you, too.
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