Writing Advice From An Awkward Adolescent
I do believe writing is one of the truest art forms still around. There is something special and even sacred about words forming in one’s head and traveling to one’s pen and paper. When my oral words fail me, the written ones, whether my own or someone else’s, rarely do.
I cannot give you any huge secret to writing. If you are like me, writing is beautiful yet frustrating at the same time. Writing can make you feel as high and as bright as the sun or like a dumb mole alone in the dark with nothing but a lot of worthless dirt.
There is no secret to writing. There is no one way to do it. There is no potion that will wake you up in the morning like a Disney princess, that will enable you to sit in front of your typewriter or computer and churn out the perfect story effortlessly. I can assure you writing is NEVER like that.
If anyone tells you writing is easy, they are treacherous liars who don’t deserve the life of a struggling writer (you know, the glamorous ordering the wrong type of printer ink online and waiting in the too-long line at a trashy Chinese restaurant.)
I cannot give you writing hacks, brilliant prompts, or one-size-fits all advice. The only thing I can give you is what I have learned.
The only advice writers should share is that which they have discovered themselves. When one writes as a hobby, as a career, or as a blogger hoping that someone somewhere is reading their probably bad work, they make for themselves a new journey of literary experience that has never been ventured before!
From this journey, a writer gets exclusive writing content generated from their unique experiences. Discovering and sharing this content is a choice they have to make on their own.
Moving past this explanation, I would like to share my own “content.” These few tips are what I have learned in my few years as a writer. I know there are many more years of discovery out there in my future writing journey, but this is what I have now so…enjoy?
Be a Savage
If you write mostly fictitious works as I do, never be a nice person. On the page that is. When writing your characters, spare them no mercy. It may brake your heart to see what your little “mind babies” have to go through but do it anyways.
When good things happen, the reader gives an itty bitty hooray and then moves on. However, if you act as devil’s advocate for your characters, it leaves a big impression on your reader.
Here is my philosophy; if you make a reader cry or depress them…good job. You are a good writer.
Here is a writing exercise: Think about your plot. Now make it WORSE. Make a list of all the wicked, evil, twisted, and monstrous deeds you can do to your characters and then multiply it by eleven billion. If you have an idea that is merciless yet realistic in the story’s setting, do it.
I am not just a writer. I am also a reader. Most writers are and if they aren’t then they’re fakes. As a reader, I have a pet peeve.
Never EVER write “had had” in a sentence. Do it and I’m sorry, but I will have to deal you with you later.
I almost found myself writing “Despite the little sleep Sybil had had that night….” in “Ravenclaws and Their Bad Omens” but stopped myself. Instead I wrote “Despite the little sleep Sybil had that night…”
It makes just as much sense, if not more, to use just one “had.” Reading “had had” always trips me up and I’m sure others feel the same way.
Years of writing, and that is the most valuable advice I can give you. Use ONE had, never TWO.
Don’t Have A Plan
I have a close friend who is a writer. She is a younger writer and has not yet perfected her style. That’s okay, neither have I. But she, no matter how many times it messes her up, makes a huge critical mistake when starting a new story.
She plans it out.
You know those little diagrams that demonstrate rising action, climax, falling action and resolution? The ones your English teacher used to give you to map out a story? They look like a melting caution cone…maybe that last one is just me. Those diagrams lie. They will never make a good story.
If you plan out your story, you have set in your mind the exact events that will happen. You leave no room for surprise.
When I begin writing a new story, I keep my general theme in mind but I keep just that. General. Don’t put to much stock into the order of events in your story. Keep your theme in mind, but just write.
Let the plot lead you. Don’t lead the plot.
Some writers claim to have a fully formed plot before they start writing, complete with climax and resolution. In the movie Knives Out it is said that the mystery author in the film had his plots come into his mind, fully formed.
When I write I know only the characters. Or I think I know the characters. If reading is an adventure than writing is a journey. I write knowing little about what I am about to encounter. Is my main character really the main character? Or will another take their place? What changes about the scene that leads to a captivating story?
I started writing this post when I wrote my “Ravenclaws and Their Bad Omens” story. I had no idea what Sybil and Pandora where going to get into. I had only a vague idea on how they would talk and act. Would Pandora believe Sybil’s predictions or would she laugh at her friend’s silliness? Do the Marauders enter the story? I hoped they did, because I love them, but I had not one clue.
At this point of the post, I do not know where I will end up. What will my resolution be? I still don’t know.
But I do know that I want you to know that when you are writing, you don’t need to know everything. There is only one person who knows everything and I can safely say that is not you. But, hey, that’s okay.
Have a Goal
What’s the point of writing if you don’t know what you’re writing for?
Sure, you might have a brilliant story or a flawless plot, but where does your motivation come from?
Motivation isn’t “I want to write for a career” or “I don’t want to die alone and unread.” That has to do with you not your writing. Writing shouldn’t be about you.
Motivation is what you believe in, what keeps you ticking. What do you put your faith in? How does it inspire you? This motivation doesn’t focus on you, or at least it shouldn’t. If you are truly motivated, you should want to share this belief with other. You can do this with a theme.
Theme is paramount to a story. If your new rider or just aren’t fluent in writing lingo, a theme is the basic idea of your story. Maybe you want to convey that fate is inescapable or that love conquers all.
Because I am a young Christian who puts her faith in God, that becomes my motivation. When I have a story, my themes come straight from scripture. These scriptures stay in my mind when I am writing. Whenever a character speaks or whenever a new scene begins I ask myself “Does this line up with my chosen scripture?” If it does not, I need to scratch it and try again.
Maybe you don’t feel led to use scripture as your themes. That’s your own choice. As long as your motivation is pure, true, and praiseworthy, the writing will speak for itself.
Find Your Own “Content”
Keep learning, keep discovering. Whether you’ve just written the first paragraph in your first story or if you have been writing for seventy years, don’t suppose you have learned everything. I promise you haven’t.
I may have these few tips for you now, but seeing as I intend to never stop walking in my personal writing journey, I know I will find many more. And I will share them, as it should be.
Share what you learn with others whenever you can. Who’s knows? Maybe one day your writing will make its way into some else’s heart and impact their life.
What could be a greater honor?