BLIND BABY RAISED BY WORMS (General tips for writers)
By Joe Moore
When I first started attempting to write fiction many years ago, I subscribed to and devoured all the writer’s magazines out there. Writers Digest, Writer, and many more. I read every article, sometimes multiple times, and I would use a yellow highlighter to mark those pearls of wisdom from the experienced authors on how to be a better writer. Over the years, I accumulated large piles of magazines containing many yellow highlights. When the day came to clean out my closet and give the copies away to some of my writer friends, I first sat down and went through every edition, copying those jewels of advice into one complete list. Today, I will share them with you. Maybe you might not agree with them all, but there’s a wealth of advice from countless bestsellers that can help improve anyone’s efforts at being a better author.
And if you’re wondering why this article is called BLIND BABY RAISED BY WORMS, check writing tip number 35. It’s the only one I personally contributed. Enjoy.
- Easy writing makes hard reading, but hard writing makes easy reading.
- Surprise creates suspense.
- Vulnerability humanizes a character.
- Anything that does not advance the plot or build character should be deleted.
- Their reaction to a situation shows a great deal about your characters.
- What your characters say and do under stress reveals their true feelings.
- Coincidence is used effectively when it sets up a plot complication instead of a resolution.
- Use all the senses to build your setting.
- You are not accountable for the absolute accuracy or completeness of your factual information as long as it’s plausible. Write so it sounds right.
- You can build characterization by seeing your character from another’s viewpoint.
- The reader doesn’t know how a story will resolve, but they should have no doubt what must be resolved.
- As a story grows, so should the obstacles.
- Any word that can be substituted by a simpler word should be.
- Suspense is created by having something extraordinary happen in an ordinary situation.
- The simile includes the quality that is being compared as well as the comparison. The metaphor’s comparative frame of reference is only alluded to in the image used.
- There must always be conflict in some form to keep the story interesting.
- Deleting “very” usually strengthens a sentence or phrase.
- Your story must interest you. If it does, there’s a good chance it will interest someone else.
- Credible prose is not self-indulgent; it exists to illuminate the story, not to show off how clever the writer can be.
- If you cannot describe your story in one or two sentences, you’re in trouble.
- Rather than describing your characters, come up with actions that show what they’re like.
- One way to decide if sex in a scene is necessary is simply to delete it.
- If it comes easy, it’s a cliché.
- Don’t give your characters names that are similar, start with the same letter, or are hard to pronounce.
- A cliché is a sign of a mind at rest.
- Think of your settings as a character.
- The reader must feel that your characters were alive before the story began and will live on after it ends.
- Begin the story where the reader will anticipate what happens next but is compelled to guess wrong.
- A commercial novel is one that a lot of people buy, finish reading and tell others to read it.
- The average reader must be considered a genius with the attention span of a two-year-old.
- To get an editor’s attention, you have about three paragraphs in a short story and three pages in a novel.
- Conflict, the basis of all good writing, arises because something is not going as planned.
- Villains never think of themselves as “bad guys”.
- Always start with the character, not the plot. The needs of the character will drive the plot.
- Always use a cheap tabloid-style blog title to grab attention.