Top Writing Tips | Tips from Someone Who Can’t Write to Save My Life

Bonjour.

That title originally said to save my lice which is lovely and awfully entertaining.
So, today I am her to give y’all some wonderful writing tips, even though I’m struggling and can’t write anything well at the moment. You could take these tips and use them, or you could ignore them and have fun reading this utterly fantastic and humorous post. Now we must begin.


Kill off your favourite character

Now, hear me out before you begin to scream and yell at me. If you kill off your favourite character, it makes the world seem as though it’s ending and your readers hate you. This means you get awful reviews on that part of the book. Back to what I was saying, if you kill off your favourite character, you’ll get a Hunger Games effect where *SPOILER* the favourite character dies, everyone gets very upset and it seems as though nothing will ever be good again. Y’know the one? Yeah. That’s a very real feeling though and when you do that, you can really make the world end and everything explodes and there’s a big KABOOM and your story is finished. That’s a great way to end your book if you’re struggling to find an ending.

Write your story from the villain’s POV

Look, we all hate our villains (unless you’re me who would happily marry my villain because he’s amazing, but he’s kinda fictional and I’m kinda gay) BUT our villains are fantastic. If you rewrite parts of your work from your villain’s point of view, you’ll get an entirely different story. Describe what the villain feels who they look at your hero or MC or whatever, describe how the MC looks from a warring side. You get more ideas when you do this, get a *completely* different view. Your character has more depth to them, they’re suddenly not this amazing, wonderful person who can’t do anything wrong. You get the villain telling you what they’ve done wrong and why it’s been harmful, you get the villain telling you why they did what they did. If gives you a new perspective on the whole thing.

If in doubt, kill someone

Bored? Can’t decide what to do with your story next? Kill of someone. Start a war. Have someone come into their house and they smash them over the head with a frying pan and they die. It adds something to the story and gives you a good way of leading on to the next part where the MC is grieving or in shock or something like that. Kill off the villain, a rock falls from the sky and they get crushed and BAM, no more villain. This leads on to you talking about what the MC does next, how they set about restoring the society the villain destroyed. It lead you into the next barrier they face.

NEVER DELETE ANYTHING

A page you don’t think fits? Copy it into a new page, rename it and add it to a new folder called ‘unsure pieces’. Write something and don’t look back at it. Write until you reach the end, go through the piece in your editing process, edit it there. Don’t edit it as you go.
Leading on from this, if you’re missing a word or an idea for a certain part, don’t delete it all. Write something random like ‘BAMBOOZLED’ in the place you’re missing something and when you have an idea for it, press Ctrl+F and type BAMBOOZLED into the search bar. You’ll find the piece you’re looking for and will be able to add the missing information in. This also works if you’re in need of more research. I’d recommend using a different word than the one for the last part, but it works super well.
If you don’t want to use words, you can also colour things. Highlight a piece word (like missing word, missing information, research needed) in a colour and when you go through the story, you’ll be able to see the parts you need to add work to. Use different colours for each piece so you know what you’re looking for.

Add TENSION

Not sexual tension, just tension. You know when you’re reading a story and it just seems to be lacking something? It’s probably tension. Make the villain and the hero become locked in a staring contest and then have it broken by someone yelling and they both look up to see a bullet whizz above their heads. Tension means that people want to find out what happens next, they don’t want to stop reading. No tension and people get bored, the story isn’t gripping. JUST DON’T ADD TOO MUCH TENSIOn. That’s as much of an issue as no tension. You can’t have two characters locked in a battle for a full 300 pages, it becomes boring and no one wants to read it anymore. Just think about that.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Writing a POC as one of your characters? Don’t just base your story on what you know (if you’re not a POC), look up struggles people of colour face, look up places they can have come from and the like. Research stereotypes. And don’t just describe them as “She had dark skin, the colour of chocolate. Her hair was short and braided intricately, a dark waterfall flowing down her back.” because that’s boring and very much what everyone else does. Look at people of colour and look at their skin tones. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m sick of people being described as chocolate. Don’t stereotype characters, make them break stereotypes often associated with their races.
In general, don’t stereotype, it’s boring and ordinary.
Writing an LGBT character into your story? Don’t ignore the bad bits of being an LGBT person, don’t ignore the glares from people as your MC and her girlfriend walk down the street holding hands, don’t ignore the people who don’t understand pronouns and continue to call people by the pronouns assigned at birth. Have a trans character? Do your research on body dysphoria, gender dysphoria, voice dysphoria. Talk about your character wishing they had the money to afford top surgery, hormones. Have them explain to another character their pronouns, how they’re feeling. I’m sick of trans characters being a girl one minute and then suddenly they come out as trans and have a perfect male body, are super happy with their life and are doing great with everyone being accepting and sweet about it. That’s not what happens.

Don’t worry about quality, quantity is what matters

Editing and second draft is where you can bump the quality up. Don’t worry about what you’re writing, just get the words on the paper and get them down in chunks. Get to know your story better. Don’t worry about the order, write each new idea on a new page, create a new Google account to use, write your entire story on that in different pieces and then stick them all together in an order. Write 1000 words at a time. DOn’t worry if your writing has grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes, anything like that, just worry about getting words down on the page. According to most sites, your first draft should take your between 2 and 6 months. In that time you need to get down your work. NaNoWriMo gets you to write the entire story in 1 month from start to finish. You don’t have time to worry about what you’re writing and delete pieces in that time, you just need to get the information down on the page. Use the next month to fix it up.

Get to know your characters and setting

Get to know your characters better than you know yourself. What do they like, dislike, how do they react when something goes wrong, star sign, rising sign, what was their upbringing like, how many people have they crushed on, education? There are so many character sheets out there to complete and you can end up knowing your character super well. I’d also recommend drawing or commissioning someone to draw your character. Colour the exact colour of their hair, draw their style, work out the perfect colour of their skin. You need to know what’s going to work with this character and what’s not. Don’t have a redheaded character and think that their hair is going to work with a bright red sunset, because chances are that it’s not. Work out the character’s temperament, personality type, everything like that, write it down. Get yourself a notebook and spill all your character ideas into it.
Same goes for the setting. If you’re using a real place, either visit that place and get to know it, or do research. Don’t have your story based in Antarctica and have sandy, hot beaches the whole way along it because that doesn’t make sense. Work out when the story’s set, if it’s Summer, find out what it’s like in Summer, if it’s Winter, what’s it like then? Don’t get your facts wrong because that’s always embarrassing. If you’re writing your own place (made up) do what you did with the characters. Get to know it too well. Know things about it that people who live their don’t. What’s the history of it? What’s the terrain like. Again, you can find hundred of questionnaire templates online for these sorts of things.

BUY NOTEBOOKS AND PENS

Buy yourself a bunch of $2 notebooks from Kmart (or whatever cheap shop you have) and some cheap pens. I bought a pack of fineline pens and 8 A5 notebooks from Kmart and spent a grand total of $13. Buy different coloured notebooks and have different books for different things. One for ideas, one for character ideas, one for notes, one for setting ideas, one for research, one to carry around with you in case you get an idea, one to write sentences into and another one for everything. Use the pens to note everything down. Have a code for things. Have questions? Write them in blue. Have an idea for a character? Write it in pink. Colour code each character, have a specific colour for each one. These notebooks never have to see the light of day, but you’ll find then super useful in the long run. Write down everything you think in them, blurt random things into them. You can come back to these things when you’re stuck for ideas.

Buy a plant. And write with it beside you

You’ll find that this plant becomes your best friend. If not a plant, a fish. Buy something living and have it beside you on your desk when you write. It’s there to hold you accountable and keep you company. You’re able to rely on that fish, plant, whatever, to hold all your secrets, listen to your rants, take notes with you, NEVER JUDGE YOU FOR WRITING FOR 12 HOURS AND THEN EATING 4 CHOCOLATE BARS. At 4am when all your friends are asleep but you’re still writing because you NEED TO FINISH THIS CHAPTER, you’ll want company and that creature will be super helpful. You can get a fish tank for $30 second hand online and a fish will cost you $10 (an average sized fish that will be pretty). A plant will cost you anywhere between $5 and $30ish. It’s worth the investment too.
Leading on from this, music is also your best friend, as is a notification blocker. GOt Instagram on your laptop? Email? Use a notification blocker to stop getting the notifications that WILL distract you from your writing (if I ignore your messages on Instagram, this is why).

And finally…set VERY low goals

A goal of 200 words, write 200 words and you’ll be proud of yourself. The Best Writer Ever. Set yourself these goals every day and aim to accomplish them. And short term goals too, what are you going to have written by the end of the hour, not by this time tomorrow. What do you need to write NOW. Think about the here and now, not the there and then. You’re writing now, maybe not then. You think ‘I’m going to write a battle scene where Caleb kills Joel’ and do it. Use another notebook and write goals for each day you write in it. It really works. Like, really.


So, now that we’re done, I’m actually going to go and do some real writing. Like, of my own story. (another note, think of it as a story, not a book. writing a book makes it seem like a massive task, writing a story does not) I hope at least one of these tips help. Someday soon I’ll do a post about what I use to write (everything mentioned in this post) so keep an eye out or that.

happy easter darlings,
emily xo

Author: Emily

I'm Emily, an agender, asexual, demipanromantic teenage blogger from New Zealand. Join me on my journey fighting through my mental health issues and fighting for equal rights for everyone!

9 thoughts on “Top Writing Tips | Tips from Someone Who Can’t Write to Save My Life”

  1. Ok, even though you acted like these would be completely sarcastic and useless- these are golden! Most of these are super easy to implement and you are soo helpful child! (you’re older but that’s irrelevant)

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are always helpful. Just hold the harsher stuff for emails!

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