As a new writer I’ve found myself studying other authors writing lately. I never used to notice repetitious phrases, words, adjectives or filler words. I always pictured that kind of attention to others writing faults to be annoying and not something I’d ever focus on.
I’m a brand new author, my first book isn’t even on the market yet and already I find myself wanting to improve. Knowing that this first book will likely be my worst book (because come on… it’s my first) I’ve been determined to learn as much as possible to improve with each title I release.
I’ve been scouring the inter-webs reading all kinds of articles about character development and growth, story-line do’s and don’ts and even cliche personality types and plot lines. I like to think that one day I’ll write a book that people put down and think ‘WOW – she’s deep’ but, considering my level of sarcasm and the inability to be very serious in life, I doubt that will ever happen.
I’m more of a Chelsea Handler meets Sophie Kinsella type writer as opposed to a Dan Brown meets Paulo Coelho (all whose books I’ve read all of). I’m just not ‘deep’. I’ve been told countless times that I don’t have much in the way of ‘feelings’. LOL Sad but true. My personality is more that of a guy and I’m OK with that.
One of the things I’ve been devoting a lot of time to is descriptions and telling vs. showing. I’ve got a spreadsheet of words to be on the lookout for and I actually have found it fun to research other ways of saying things. My thesaurus app has become my best friend and if my husband knew how much I’ve recently spent on ‘writing books’ he’d probably ban me from Amazon.
These Angela Ackerman books are some of my favorites. I find myself referencing back to them a lot more than I thought I would.
There is so much information in these that I already knew but, sometimes a reminder helps. Her writing is great and they’re a great reference book for those moments when you’re flustered for the right emotion, word or layout of a scene.
I only wish I’d have bought them in paperback so I don’t have to dig through my kindle for the info I need. I’m a lover of print books especially when I’m reading them again and again.
I loved the Creating a Daily Writing Practice book by Pernille Norregaard. It’s a great reminder of what I need to be doing and what I should be avoiding. Even if I only write a scene that will never go into a story, it’s all practice and it all helps. I think a lot of my problem has been that I blog about others and their books. My opinion is based on what they’ve written and besides the occasional one liner it doesn’t allow me to be very creative. It’s more technical writing than creative and I hated technical writing in college.
I complete a 1/2 of a bachelors degree in creative writing & English literature. After racking up way too much debt in student loans that I’m still paying off, I decided to quit school. My goal was only to write fiction and I just couldn’t see getting anymore in debt to do something that people do every single day without fancy degrees. That said, I feel for my editor of Little Gray Dress. That first round might be rough. But I’m determined to continue improving.
One thing I know I’ve gotten better at is planning. I’m a true panster when it comes to writing. I have constant conversations with myself, or potential characters, in my head all day. As I try to fall asleep, do the dishes, yell at the kids, whatever, it seems never ending. Normally I’ll sit and write without notes or even knowing where I’m going. I now find myself utilizing my ‘notes’ app on my iPhone and I hope that thing doesn’t have a limit because I’ll reach it pretty quickly. I jot down my ideas and let them sit. About once a week I go through and weed things out and the ones that spark my interest I give myself a week to create a tentative outline. If I’m able to put it together I go for it. It’s definitely getting a bit easier.
Imagination has been hard for me at times. I’m a realist and even though I have a hard time with out of the box creativity, I want to be a daydreamer in the most imaginative way. I’m not sure it will ever happen for me easily. At times even I’m surprised I chose to be a book blogger. While I love to read I’d say 75% of the time most books just do not more quickly enough for me. I can’t stand the slow, drawn out story-lines. The ones that take until midway through the book to really grab my attention. I can’t write like that either. I’m getting better at allowing myself to think more outside the box but it’s a slow process.
It’s become easier as I realize stories can be whatever I want them to be! JK Rowling definitely didn’t base Harry Potter on a world she thought might exist. If she did, Harry would be living in some meth infested neighborhood, practicing black magic on his neighbors while trying not to make the local news. I can write anything! Ghosts, fairy godmothers, the perfect man… it doesn’t have to truly exist to write it.
I’d love to hear how you’ve improved your own writing with each book you’ve published?
What are some of your tried and true writing processes or writing guides?
Who is an author that you’ve noticed significant improvement with each of their releases?
Give me a piece of advice you wish you’d had when writing your first 2-3 books…