One of the most valuable writing tips I think anyone ever passed onto me was “Don’t get it right, get it written”.
In other words kill that maddening editor who sits on your shoulder criticising every word you write and holding you back while it spends hours hunting for that perfect sentence, or just the right word.
It doesn’t matter if you write garbage. You can always go back and fix it later.
Okay that was my first writing tip. Here are 4 more.
1. Read your work out aloud.
This is an incredibly valuable tip. Writers often get so close to their work they miss glaringly obvious errors. If you read your work aloud it helps to pick out the mistakes. Reading out aloud also helps you spot long-winded sentences, poorly constructed sentences and sentences that just don’t make sense!
2. Join a critique group.
Again very useful advice. It’s always good to get a second, or third or fourth opinion of your work as it progresses; to find out what works and what doesn’t; what is clear and what doesn’t make sense; where readers stumble over your words. As I have to submit fresh work to my critique group before every meeting, it also ensures I keep writing, which is no mean feat seeing as I have to fit writing in with a hectic day job.
3. Cut the clutter.
Don’t litter your work with unnecessary words. Keep it lean. Most writers have their pet words they tend to use, or overuse. For me it’s starting sentences with “Well…” Here are some words which generally don’t add much value and can probably be cut out of your story:
4. Use strong verbs.
Rather than littering your work with adverbs and adjectives, try and use a strong verb instead. It will give your work more power – don’t let your heroine walk hurriedly to the bus stop, make her dash there. Don’t have your hero look angrily at someone, have him glower at them.