Writing Tips for Beginners

There’s one question that I get asked more than any other.

“What are some tips for new writers?”

I decided to share a handful of tips that I’ve dished out to friends who are interested in writing. I feel like most of these tips are important regardless of what you’re writing, but some are just my suggestions and not mandatory for success.

Don’t stop writing. Sounds simple enough, right? Writing is a craft made better through practice. I keep all of my writing projects filed away whether I finish them or not. If I need a boost of confidence that shows me that I’m improving, I’ll flip through an old manuscript and marvel at how I’ve improved.

Never stop learning. The web is filled with information that can help you improve your craft, so take advantage of online resources. You can join writer critique groups or attend writer’s workshops.

Read as much as you write. I analyze everything I read whether I’m reading a comic book or a novel. You’ll learn new words, new ways to get inspired or tell a story, or just something that pushes you want to write more.

Build an outline. Outlines aren’t used by every writer, but I personally work best when I make a basic outline. Outlines can be modified throughout the drafting stages. I start with just the basic plot points, and then I work off of that building block. If my story evolves and goes in a different direction, I simply adjust my outline and keep writing.

Don’t edit until the first draft is finished. This is one tip I always give new writers. You can fix anything in the revision process, so don’t slow yourself down during your first draft. To attempt editing before you even finish the complete story would have you running in circles, and would be a complete detriment to your progress.

Read On Writing by Stephen King. I don’t care if you purchase the book, borrow it from a friend, or go to the library—just read it! This book offers invaluable information for writers to improve their craft. I also find the book very motivating, despite King’s no bullshit approach to explaining. This is a book that I always keep on hand, and I read whenever I feel like I need a swift kick to get back on track.

Write what you love. This tip sounds like a no brainer, but it’s easy to forget what’s important. Don’t write a story that you aren’t interested in just because you think the topic would please someone else.  What’s the point in writing any fiction if you can’t write with passion? Write the stories that you want to tell, and stories that you would want to read.

Hope you found these tips to be informative. You can subscribe if you don’t want to miss future writing tips, and don’t forget to keep reading and writing!

Mistakes I Made in the Adventures of Self-Publishing

Prior to self-publishing my first novel, The Alliance: Bloodlines, I did research on my options for publishing. I read countless blogs and other resources that explained the “Do’s and Don’ts” of self-publishing. I listened to some of the advice, but disregarded the huge chunks of info that would require me to spend more on my novel than I could afford.

Publishing your novel is a hugely gratifying experience. Hell you should pat yourself on the back right now if you’ve finished writing a novel—regardless whether or not you’ve published yet. Completing a novel is no small feat, but when you put your heart and soul into a story it seems only right to give your story the best chance at success. You want the world to read your story, right?

I think I speak for most writers when I say that we don’t do this for the money. If you’re a writer simply trying to make a buck, then you’re probably going to be awfully disappointed. A writer of fiction simply wants to give readers the same experience that they receive themselves when reading their favorite books. A writer wants to make the readers drift off into their fantastically crafted worlds and forget reality. They want their readers to have a great experience and grow with the characters, or simply fall in love with them.

So what care should indie authors take in order to give their self-published book a fighting chance?

Professional editing is a MUST. I did not listen when this rule came up in several blogs and articles. Professional editing can be a costly venture, but you can significantly diminish your chances of success by skimping on the editing of your novel. No matter how much you think you can edit yourself, trust me when I say it’s just never good enough. Professional editors get paid to catch errors with a trained eye, and it’s best to let them work their magic. Do your research and pick an editor that is qualified to work on your novel. I made the mistake of hastily hiring someone to work on Bloodlines, and paid almost $800 for a nightmare of edits that ended up being tossed out. I had several friends help me re-edit Bloodlines after several more revisions, but we did not catch all the mistakes.

A professional cover is also important. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” can be thrown out the window. You should take time to plan out your cover ideas, and don’t forget to consider covers for sequels if the book will be a part of a series. It never occurred to me at the time of self-publishing that I needed to have a plan for my covers, but you want them to have some kind of cohesion. I love the cover that was made for me, and my designer gave me exactly what I asked for, but it wasn’t well thought out on my part. I should have made something more enticing than the playing cards. Unless the person scrolling through Amazon just can’t resist a good game of cards, I am probably not luring anyone in with my cover.

Build a fan base. I read in so many places that I needed to build a fan base first and then release the product once I generated enough interest. This applies whether it’s a novel, comic, or whatever. I was hasty and didn’t wait, with my Facebook page only having a handful of fans and no one really knowing what Bloodlines was all about. Some people might stumble upon your novel on Amazon, and they might buy it without knowing anything about it, but you have way more chance of success if your interest is already there. If you have time and patience, I believe this approach could be valuable to you.

Now these are some of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made, and I would love to hear from other authors that have learned from their own self-publishing woes. In my next blog I will discuss how I am taking a different approach with my latest WIP. Just remember not to get too discouraged! Mistakes are simply a way of learning.

Tips for Writing Sequels

I am currently re-writing Drakon, the sequel to The Alliance: Bloodlines, and thought I’d give some tips for new writers.

When I first started writing Bloodlines, I knew that I wanted the story to at least become a trilogy. At that time I was young and excited, but never really thought about what it would require to write a compelling sequel.  So what do you need to consider when writing your series?

You must always remember to be consistent and keep continuity throughout your whole series. If you make a set of rules in your first novel, those rules need to stay consistent in the sequels. Why? Your readers will remember the rules. If you set a rule of magic or law in book one, but then that rule is not kept in book two, your readers will remember and question you. They will lose belief in your story—in the world that you took so long to create. Make sure to always fact check the events and rules in the previous books to keep the continuity accurate.

The same is true of the actions of your protagonist. Events that happen in book one should have consequences, and in turn those consequences should carry over to the sequels. Example: In Bloodlines there is a character death at the end of the book, but I knew that death couldn’t be forgotten in book two. The death had an impact on the characters so that needed to be expressed in the sequel.

Now while you keep the storyline consistent in each installment of the series, also remember to mix up the plot and formula. If you write each book in the series with the same plot formula, you run the risk of boring your audience with a predictable story. The protagonist should grow with each story, and the challenge should become greater with each book.

For Drakon I know that my characters and story must have continuity, but I will add a fresh element to keep my readers intrigued. I’ve sent them to a new place and put them in a situation of greater peril, but they still have their same voice. The events and their actions in Bloodlines will carry over and effect how they handle the greater challenges that they face in Drakon.

Remember if a character suddenly has a different voice in the sequels, you better have a good explanation for it. Show how the character developed, but never just change the characters personality for no specific reason.

I’ve found it very helpful to make a Word document that lists certain notes that I may need while writing the sequels. While writing scenes that I know will have an impact on possible sequels, I will make a note of it and move on. This keeps me from having to scroll through a complete manuscript a million times trying to remember a specific detail later on.

That’s all for now, but I hope these tips become of some use to someone that is currently or planning to write a sequel. As always keep writing and never give up.