Writing Discussion: How Do We Make Our Writing the Best We Can?

Shirley Ann Howard, author of  Tales Out of School, is hosting my No Whine, Just Champagne discussion group. Please join us, either here or on Gather.com.  We want to know what you have to say.

How do we make our writing the best we can?

Reviewing previous discussions, I found a similar desire in all of us. How do we make our writing the best we can? I suppose it’s different for everyone. Some might like an exciting story with lots of action; others prefer a character driven novel. Last week I saw that quite a few of you do not like description, yet a previous discussion topic referred to it as imagery used to create a mood or enhance a reader’s knowledge of a character. I personally adore imagery/description.

A few previous discussions touted writing rules from well-known authors. How about if we discuss our writing rules, how we make our writing the best we can.

I’ll get us started with what I believe, and what I would suggest as rules if I were a famous author asked for advice. What fun…… What a great fantasy….. 

  • Write from the heart and soul.
  • Pretend nobody is going to read it.
  • Write what you know.
  • Write what you care about.
  • Write what you’d like to read.
  • Involve all senses, especially in an unusual way. I thought last week’s “smelling like horse manure” example was outstanding. It could have said so much about the male character. (Either he didn’t care enough to clean up or he cared so much he couldn’t wait to get to his woman.)
  • If you get stuck, go back and read your previous ten pages. When I do that, I’m always amazed that it seems so obvious what comes next.
  • Write from beginning to end, sketchily if necessary. Fill in the imagery, additional necessary exposition, and “he touched the side of her face” actions with dialogue later.
  • Then edit, edit, edit. Add, cut, correct.
  • Listen to the cadence of your language. It should flow like music with the rhythm of your action.
  • Avoid repetitious vocabulary. Use a Thesaurus…. carefully.
  • Avoid contrived situations and dialogue.
  • Make characters real, like the ones you know. Even Edgar Allan Poe said he did that, if you can believe it.
  • Edit two hundred more times.
  • Show your writing buddy. Take what he/she has to say under advisement.
  • In the end, write what you want… but please… do not use the word “gal.” 

So how about you?

Do you

  • Use an outline?
  • Read and study authors you enjoy?
  • Work on only one project at a time?
  • Write for today’s market?
  • Read “Writer’s Digest?”
  • Take writing classes?
  • Participate in a writing workshop?

Looking forward to what you have to say. I celebrate that we’re all different.

The group No Whine, Just Champagne will exchange ideas during our live discussion on Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 9:00pm ET. Meet us here.

One Response to “Writing Discussion: How Do We Make Our Writing the Best We Can?”

  1. joylene Says:

    When I started, I did everything: outlined, read, studied, took writing classes. I don’t think any of it hurt me either. Today I write free style mostly. Each morning, I go back to the start of the chapter, read it again, then do more free writing. Until I have the first draft written. Then the real fun begins.

    Your discussions are always so interesting, Pat. Thanks, Shirley.

    Merry Christmas.

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