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December 09, 2014

Writing Tips Part One



Today I am highlighting 25 of my best writing tips I've shared on my blog over the last three years. Enjoy!



Writing Tips Part One




1.    Use street signs and movie credits to find character names.

2.    Chapter titles are not just for children’s books! Try something new and create one-word chapter titles for your book.

3.    Use “all of a sudden” and “suddenly” sparingly.

4.    Don’t limit yourself to “said” all the time. Try “demanded”, “cried”, “mocked”, etc. to spice up your dialogue tags.

5.    If you happen to be alone when you’re writing a conversation between two or more characters, talk aloud and pretend you are your characters. This will help you to nail exactly what you want them to say.

6.    Use the 5 senses: sight, taste, smell, touch, and sound to create good prose.

7.    To create amazing suspense and horror, you need to also use the sixth sense: your intuitive hunch, or more precisely, your character’s intuitive hunch.

8.    When you’re writing horror, or any story that requires tension or suspense, “the dark” is a great tool to utilize.

9.    Avoid page-long paragraphs of rooms. A paragraph or two is a decent amount to describe a room. Anymore than that is too much and a full page is definitely unnecessary.

10. Don’t jump from event to event, write full days. But you don’t have to write everything! By using transitional phrases, or mentioning sunset/rises or meals, you can show the progression of time.

11. Show action-reaction. This technique can be used with every type of story. Write a sentence that shows an action happening then another that shows the immediate reaction. Ex: He shot off several rounds of bullets. She dodged them and fired back.

12. To speed up the pace of your story, write shorter sentences. Short sentences can be read quicker, giving the illusion of fast action.

13.  Set a time limit and create high stakes to build suspense.

14. To create mystery, give your protagonist a secret that your readers have to wait to find out.

15. If you ever have to write a kidnapping, make it a surprise to both your reader and your character.

16. If you ever have to write a torture scene, think about what you are afraid of. You can also tap into your readers fears by writing about common phobias.

17.  Before you begin writing a fight, plan out key moments of the fight first. This will make the process of writing the fight much easier.

18. When you’re writing a thriller, it’s sometimes wise to take a break from all the action to write something happy, even if it’s just for a page. Too much action clumped together can ruin a story if you don’t take the time to let those moments sink in.

19.  Give your protagonist a weakness, and let him/her love. He/she don’t have to fall in love in your story, but you could show their love toward friends, children or even a hamster.

20.  Let bad things happen to your characters.

21.  If a character seems to be doing something different than what you originally planned, do not restrain them! Let them stray from what you thought would happen to what they are saying should happen.

22. When you describe your heroine’s actions, use detailed descriptions, especially if she’s in a position that requires her to be feisty and show her strength. Use strong verbs to reveal what she does, and how she feels in that moment.

23. Let the genre and the kind of story you’re writing influence your character’s wedding. If your story is set in the future, change up the traditions. If it’s fantasy, add magic.

24. Treat a baby in your book as you would any other character by giving him/her a personality.


25. Put yourself in your character’s shoes. What would you do and say if you went through the same thing he/she did? How would you feel and cope? Asking yourself these questions will make your story authentic.  



66 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those all rock! Yes, go easy on the description, please.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Great tips, I'm especially appreciative of that last one as I've recently had a run of books let down by poorly drawn characters, the author seemingly incapable of doing just this.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for the wonderful tips Chrys, I am going to share it on Twitter :)

Chrys Fey said...

Descriptions can be wonderful but too much is well...too much. And I'm thrilled that the Ninja thinks my writing tips rock. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

All writers should try to put themselves in their characters shoes. Thanks for commenting, Tracy! :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Rachna! And thanks for the share! :D

Lisa Thomson said...

Love this post, Chrys! Thank you for these awesome tips. I will reference this one repeatedly. #22! This relates to one of my short stories I'm still trying to improve where the heroine is abused by her husband. All of your tips are great reminders and new ideas for me, too.

Carrie-Anne said...

I love #24. A lot of writers seem to use babies and young children as window dressing or throwaway characters, instead of creating them as people in their own right. When I was still a devoted soap opera fan (back when there were more than a handful on the air), it was so frustrating and annoying to see young characters going from babies or young children to teenagers overnight, as if the writers couldn't figure out what to do with them while they were too young for more mature storylines.

Chrys Fey said...

#22 is one of my favorites because I always try to make my heroines tough. I'm glad you found many helpful tips, Lisa! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Babies and children are characters. They are just tiny characters. ;) I once did two blog posts devoted for each to help writers writing about babies and children.

Anonymous said...

Some excellent tips Chrys, thanks for sharing.

Sarah Foster said...

Great tips! I love #21. Sometimes our characters know better than we do and we just have to trust them.

Unknown said...

"Avoid page-long paragraphs of rooms." Ha! You know why? Because readers skip them. Excellent advice as always, Chrys!

Karen Walker said...

Great tips, Chrys. Terrific.

dolorah said...

Hi Chrys; these are good tips. Thanks for sharing them.

Pat Hatt said...

Awesome tips indeed, good description is key, if you don't need it, don't use it. I hit a whole bunch of buttons on my keyboard sometimes and then make a name out of those lol

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Great tips! The one about description reminds me of when I was young and getting into more advanced books, I'd avoid those with large blocks of paragraphs because it meant too much description.

Chrys Fey said...

And thanks for being part of Write with Fey this year!

Chrys Fey said...

They sure do. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Yup! That tip came from a blog post about Unnecessary Writing. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Karen!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Dolorah, and you're welcome!

Chrys Fey said...

lol I hit a bunch of keys on my keyboard too sometimes. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Exactly! Sometimes I still avoid those long paragraphs.

diedre Knight said...

Terrific tips, Chrys! What would you suggest instead of "Suddenly"? I write primarily for children and believe it's crucial to keep sentences as tight as possible so as not to lose the young reader's attention, yet manage to convey surprise.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Diedre! I still use "suddenly" every now and then, but simply cutting it out could work. Let what happens next in your story surprise your readers without a warning such as "suddenly." The use of a sound also works, especially for children like "Bam!" or "Bang!" And then follow that with what happened. It's all about testing things out and changing things up. Good luck! :)

Fundy Blue said...

I really enjoyed reading your tips, Chrys. I'm saving them for future reference! #21 is such fun ~ when a character takes off and does something unexpected.

Jemi Fraser said...

Awesome! I'm about to start a fight scene - so I'll give that one a shot! My worst problem is letting bad things happen to my characters ... they always want to fix them right away!!!

Unknown said...

great tips! Especially love your talking out loud tip-I love doing this as I find I get a very natural dialogue this way :)

brenda said...

Excellent post, Chrys.. a post to book mark. Of course, we writer's now this but can so easily forget and neglect. Thanks for keeping us aware.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks for these tips Chrys. They're awesome, just like you! Can't wait to try some when I pick up the quill again!

Merry Christmas to you!

Denise

Fi said...

Some brilliant tips there. Thanks for sharing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Excellent list of tips, Chrys.

The Armchair Squid said...

Tip #20 can be hard. Wasn't it Vonnegut who said you have to kill off your favorite characters?

Kelly Hashway said...

Great tips, Chrys!

Liz Blocker said...

I need to tattoo #3 to my head!!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Your #5: If you happen to be alone... Heck, I chat between characters when I'm in the car, in line at a grocery store, etc... I'm sure people have stared at me and thought, "Geez, I bet she forgot to take her meds." Great list!

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you found my tips useful, Fundy! :D

Chrys Fey said...

I also wrote an entire post about how to write a fight scene. You can check it out here: http://writewithfey.blogspot.com/2013/04/writing-about-fight.html

Good luck! :)

Chrys Fey said...

I love to do that, too...when no one else is around, of course. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, it is easy to forget.

Chrys Fey said...

Aw! Thank you so much, Denise! Merry Christmas to you, too! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for stopping by, Fi!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, L. Diane!

Chrys Fey said...

#20 is probably the toughest.I'm not sure...I think so...I would have to Google that. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks!

Chrys Fey said...

Ouch! HAHA

Chrys Fey said...

You're braver than I am. I feel silly if I'm caught having a chat with my characters by a family member. LOL!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That's a great list. I cringe every time my stupid fingers type 'suddenly.' I go back and rewrite until the reader knows it's 'suddenly' without me writing that word.

Loni Townsend said...

#20... nailed it! :) I'm horrible to my characters.

So with #4, is that why people keep looking at me weird? Am I supposed to be alone when I do that?

Sherry Ellis said...

This is a great list. I'm sharing.

Chrys Fey said...

Sometimes it can be tricky not using "suddenly" but it is possible. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm horrible to my characters, too.

HAHA! That might be why. :P

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for the share, Sherry! :)

Kimberly said...

Awesome list! I love how you get right to the point with each one! :)

Anonymous said...

I love this list. Great things to keep in mind.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Kimberly! :)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you like it, Medeia.

Yanting Gueh said...

Nice tips, Chrys! I particularly like #5, #6 and #12. Love crisp sentences.

Nicola said...

Great tips, Chrys! I particularly like number 10 of this cohort. I was having problems with sorting out time frames. Thanks for that. I will look forward to reading some more next week. Thank you for taking the time to share. Great idea. All the best.

Nicola said...

I did exactly that the other week when I was picking up my brother from the airport. I was driving along merrily playing out a scene. 20 minutes later, I payed more attention to where I was driving. Doh!! I couldn't recognise where I was. I'd missed the exit by about 10 minutes. Oops.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Claudine! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Nicola! I'm glad you found my tips helpful. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh dear! It's a good thing you found your way back safely, Nicola!

sage said...

A good list and a lot to think about here. I chuckled at #4 as I one here that we should use "said" more often, that the more dramatic words were cluttering the dialogue. Thanks for giving us something to ponder and to consider how we might improve our writing.

Chrys Fey said...

Using dramatic tags can clutter dialogue if you use them for every line of dialogue, but using them every once in a while is a good way to get your character's emotions across.