Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ten Essential Writing Tips

This post originally appeared on my own blog, but I thought it might be of interest here, too.

Warning: may contain irony.

  1. Don't confuse your readers by dropping them into the middle of the action at the start of a story. They'd much prefer it if you filled them in on everything that has happened previously. Complete biographical details of the main characters are always good. Then, when you get to the part where something actually happens, your readers won't feel confused or intrigued.
  2. Don't be lazy and make your readers exercise their imaginations. That's your job. Much better to spell everything out in minute detail. Don't make your readers have to work out how a character did something, tell them. Adverbs are invaluable. Strings of adverbs and adjectives are especially good. The more you use, the more vivid the descriptions and the less effort the readers will have to put in.
  3. Don't invent complicated, original characters. Readers will have to go to a lot of effort to work them out. Much better to reuse a well-known character or archetype everyone is familiar with.
  4. Tell, don't show. You can get everything across much more quickly that way. Dramatising a scene with a bunch of sensory details and character responses is just a cheap way of padding a story idea out.
  5. Your first draft will be the best. It may have a few rough edges but it will be dynamic and exciting and true to your original vision.
  6. Impress your readers with your vocabulary. If you use lots of obscure and complicated words they'll realise how clever you are and want to read more.
  7. Don't worry about correct grammar and spelling. Editors and publishers will recognize a great story regardless of any syntactical slip-ups. Seriously, they won't mind. They'll probably think any little mistakes are endearing.
  8. If you get a rejection from a publisher, immediately email them back to explain why they got it wrong. Editors love to engage in a discussion like this and they'll almost certainly realise their mistake and agree to publish you.
  9. If you're stuck for a novel idea, simply look at the current bestseller lists. Another book along similar lines to any of those is bound to do well.
  10. And finally, if you don't immediately achieve bestselling succes when you become a writer, give up. Don't waste your time honing your skills. It just means the world isn't ready for you. Maybe try painting instead.

Did I miss any essential tips? Do let me know!


  1. LOL!

    Hugs and chocolate,

  2. I believe you did miss one crucial tip...

    11. Don't trust every writing tips list you find online!

    Very funny, Simon!

    1. LOL! Love this one, too.

  3. I think it's good to repeat everything several times. Some readers don't always pay attention the first time or they forget stuff. Plus if it's worth telling once then it's worth telling three times.

    1. Excellent point, Patsy, really excellent. Just excellent!

  4. Thanks for the comments and input. Definitely looking forward to that chocolate, Shelly!

  5. "Give up" -- so much easier! Who needs skillz anyway?

  6. Great stuff, Simon. No wonder I've been so lost.

    I'd add, 12. Don't read too much. You need to save those brain cells for your own writing, and wouldn't want to taint your own ideas with other's works.


    1. I agree. Every story you read is a story you cannot (or at least should not) write.

  7. Now he tells us! Hah! I LOVED it.

  8. Anonymous3/02/2013

    Also when your submitting your opus (and the longer the better) be sure to put in your cover letter (if you feel you need a cover might not) that your Mother loved it. And maybe your baby sister loved it.