Any of you with kids have probably met this person. The one with no kids, but they read a book once, or their brother (who lives on the other side of the country) has a kid or two, and they are parenting experts. They will sometimes walk up to complete strangers who have kids and try to offer unsolicited advice on how to raise a child.
I am not this person.
I do not have children, but I will never offer parenting advice to anyone. Unless I know you well and I’m making a lame attempt at a joke. (Don’t worry. It’s usually pretty easy to tell when I’m trying to be funny – no one will be laughing.)
However, I will be dispensing advice here on this blog. About writing. And while I have more experience with writing than I do with raising children, I am in no way an expert. I am not a published author. I have yet to even submit anything to a publisher. Well, there were a few poems I sent to one, so I guess I have. But I’m not sure if it counts unless you are accepted or receive a rejection letter (or email), neither of which happened.
And yet, experienced or not, I have three basic tips on writing to share with you today.
#1: There will be times when the exact right thing to do is the exact opposite of what people are telling you to do, experienced or not. It’s not about not breaking the rules, it’s about knowing when it’s the right time to do so.
#2: The title. It all starts with the title. That’s the first thing people see, and if it doesn’t catch their attention, they won’t pick it up to see what’s inside. So make it catchy. Keep it simple, short and to the point. If it takes more than half a second to read, it’s probably too long.
#3: Get to the point! After your title, start your story! Don’t mess around, discussing things that are only going to confuse the person trying to read what you’ve written. And definitely don’t write a bunch of stuff that is only marginally related to what you’re writing about. It’s boring, tacky, and people will drop you and forget you in less time than it took them to read your title.
#4: Don’t tell people what you are doing. Don’t outline your story before starting to tell the tale. Keep some surprises up your sleeve, to be brought out at just the right moment to twist that plot around some, to surprise your audience.
#5: Don’t lie! Keeping some stuff back to surprise your audience is one thing, out right lying is another. If you do say you are going to do something, don’t do something else. Here’s a ridiculously obvious example: If your title is “Treachery on Mars”, don’t write about the history of Topeka, Kansas. That’s just cruel.
So that’s it for now. Enough writing advice from a part-time, amateur writer. I’m sure there will be more later on down the road. This is, after all, part 1.
And if you are looking for some actual advice from people with more credibility than me, here are a few awesome blogs to get you started: