How to Get Better at Writing

Have you ever looked back at your writing and grimaced in horror? If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for ways to improve your writing.  There are a few things you can do to hone your craft and become a better writer.

Books

Become a Better Editor

One of the first things you can do to become a better writer is work on your editing skills.  This means that you need to learn how to edit. What does that mean, exactly, though?  The first step is knowing what to cut.

It’s easy to cut something if you don’t like it. If the sentence doesn’t flow well, cut it.  When the paragraph doesn’t make sense, cut it. Scene sucks? Cut it.  What happens when you come across something you absolutely love, though? This is where most writers fall short. They end up in a trap where they love all their writing. They don’t want to change a thing.  Sometimes you must scrap something that you worked hard on.  Sometimes you must gut something you love. This is an important part of being an editor: knowing when something works and when it doesn’t. Don’t assume that because you love something, your reader will too.

Another part of being a good editor is rewriting. You can cut all you want, but sometimes you just need to rewrite something. If the scene works, but it sounds clunky, it’s time for a rewrite. There’s no shame in needing to rework a scene. Maybe your characters have developed a different way than you originally thought. Make sure that all scenes fit your character’s personality. You can’t force a character to do something simply for the sake of plot.

Read More to Become a Better Writer

One of the most important things you can do as a writer is read more.  Read everything! Pick up a magazine in an airport and browse the articles. Read writing blogs instead of browsing Facebook.  Most importantly, read more books.

In this modern age, it’s easy to find yourself wasting your time in front of the screen or the television. This can be a killer to creativity.  If you’re planning on becoming a writer, you need to read more books. Constantly. When you take a bath, take a book with you.  When you’re snuggling on the couch under a warm blanket, do it with a good book. Read aloud to your kids. Read aloud to yourself.

Find books that fit the genre you want to write in. They can inspire you. They can teach you.  You’ll learn a lot about characters and a lot about plot.  It’s one thing to binge-watch Game of Thrones for the third time, but why not pick up the books and read them?

Great authors make story-telling look easy.  Think of Stephen King or JK Rowling. They have enthralled millions of readers throughout their careers. It wasn’t always easy for them to be great writers. Just like you, they spent tons of hours doing research. They spent tons of hours editing and rewriting.  Just like you, they started at the beginning.  So, pick up a book of theirs instead of watching a movie and learn something about the craft.

Work on your Writing Every Day

If you want to improve your writing, the absolute, most important thing is writing more.  Every single day.  You want to make sure that you’re practicing your craft. You don’t get good at something overnight. It takes years and years of practice to become great at something.

If you want to turn your writing into a career instead of a hobby, you must learn practice.  Once in a while, take a look at some of your old work.  Compare it to what you’re writing now. Makes notes on what you’ve improved on and make notes on what still needs work.

Then write more and more and more.  Trust me, the longer you write, the better you’ll get. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work.  It’ll get easier to get past those scenes you were once stuck on.  Making romantic connections in your novel will become simpler.  Most importantly, you’ll learn how to actually affect the reader with your emotional scenes.

Writing can be a challenge and improving your writing might seem difficult. With enough practice, enough editing, and enough reading and research, though, you too can learn how to make your books really shine.

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Posted January 23, 2019 by Spencer McCoy in category "Uncategorized

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