Do's and Don'ts - Any Tips? - Page 2


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Thread: Do's and Don'ts - Any Tips?

  1. #11
    Do: Listen to the 'don't's.
    Don't: Listen to the 'do's.
    Sleep is for the weak, or sleep is for a week.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I write about anime and internet culture at Hidden Content

  2. #12
    DO: Write.

    DO: Read.

    DO: Imagine.

    DO: Experiment.

    DON'T: Believe there is only one way to write.

    DON'T: Don't listen to absolutes (You have to, You should, You need to, You must, You can't).

    DON'T: Forget it's going to be (very) difficult at times.
    Has left the building.

  3. #13
    Take everything you hear about writing with a grain of salt. You'll discover your own do's and don'ts -- just like everyone else does.

  4. #14
    Thanks for all the replies - I haven't been on in a few days, so to come back and find all these extra responses..! Well, it put a smile on my face anyway.

    The 'just do it' approach seems to be a popular piece of advice, my main concern was whether it's wise to put that much faith in my own writing ability. I find sometimes though that I'm one of those 'I want it all and I want it all now' people, especially when starting something. One thing I will do (thanks to Cadence and WriterJohnB) is look at the 'Turky City Lexicon' link you shared. I think in a way your posts have important similarities.

    Thanks again everyone!

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by squaremuffin View Post
    ... What are the principal "Do's and Don'ts" when attempting to write your first novel?
    So, you're in an artist's studio, talking to Famous Artist #34 and you ask "What are the principal "Do's and Don'ts" when attempting your first painting?" What do you think that artist will say? How could you apply it to writing?

    1) People have to be able to see it. So, use paint.

    In other words, people have to be able to read what you wrote, so it's a good idea to use grammatically correct sentences and correctly spelled words. This is important and a definite "Do." But, grammar isn't the only important thing to deal with, in this respect. You should, when possible, use a few standard bits of mechanics that people have come to "expect" when they read fiction. In other words, you're going to have a story and in order to tell that story, you have to tell it! That's the only way anyone is going to be able to "read" or otherwise "see" your story - Use appropriate and well understood mechanisms, like "characters" and "narrator" and "appropriate points of view" as well as a "setting" or "situation" in which your characters interact or are acted upon.

    2) Paint something that people will want to see.

    As a writer, you want to write something that people will want to read. If you're writing fiction, that means that you have to get the reader interested in your story. To do that you need to have a few things, though these things can change, depending on the type of story :

    a) A lead character the reader can understand or otherwise relate to. They don't have to be able to fully comprehend the wonderful depth you've given to the character just after reading the first paragraph, but it needs to be a character that, eventually, the reader can understand. A story about a shoe is not interesting, especially if told from the shoe's point of view, unless you add elements to the "character" of the shoe that anthropomorphizes it. So, a "speaking shoe" is, immediately, interesting and not just because it's a shoe that can speak, but because "we" speak and the reader can start throwing all sorts of interesting attributes at the shoe. Make your characters understandable by the reader, even if they're a shoe.

    b) People like interesting settings. That's why you rarely find stories with dull ones. Character-based stories, on the other hand, focus the "interesting" component on the character. (See "a") But, most other stories are going to have some sort of interesting setting. An interesting setting will help encourage your reader to keep reading, as you slowly reveal the complexities of the environment your characters are interacting with. So, "Do" use an interesting setting, where appropriate, for your story.

    c) Write well. By that, I mean do your best to engage the interest of the reader and do all that you can not to loose it! If you come upon something interesting in your story, don't ignore it. For instance,

    "What's that over there? I haven't seen that, before!" said Clarence

    "Oh, that's a flying elephant. They're all over these parts," answered Fred. "I bet you don't see them very often. But, pay it no mind, we have a birthday party to go to!"


    No description of the elephant, no reason it's there, no significance communicated to the reader, even though that particular flying elephant will decide to land on the tent in which the birthday party is being held... So, anticipate what your readers will find interesting and be sure to give them a little of it while you're telling your story, which you hope the readers will find even more interesting. It's not easy to just "create interesting", though. You have to work at it. Some of your inspiration will come from your own knowledge of other people, yourself, a setting, an occupation, a period in history, a war, automobile repair.. whatever. The point is that a reader's interest can be piqued by all sorts of things. Anticipate those and, with some luck, you'll be able to add some new things for readers to be interested it.

    3) You don't want to paint what you didn't want to paint!


    But, if a flying elephant doesn't belong in your story, don't put it in your story. Adding "bells and whistles" to a story in which they have little real significance is a definite "Don't." Don't succumb to adding special effects in lieu of quality content that focuses on telling a story. For instance, if you have a wonderful passage that involves your protagonist interacting, at length, with a common shopkeeper who has no significance to anything at all in the story and only appears in this once scene, then why are you spending so much time with it? Is it a story about shopkeepers? Are you in danger of having an "extra" take over your story? Focus... Focus, focus, focus... If it doesn't add to the story in some way, then you don't put it into the story. There are certain things that may not seem to add much, however, but are kept in the story in order to serve a purpose. So, let's take the shopkeeper example. Suppose we want to show the protagonist as a very unpleasant fellow? Well, we may have to do that by having them interact with other people. In this scene, the protagonist and shopkeeper argue, quite a bit. But, the scene might stretch a bit too long as you, in your enthusiasm, delight with inventing several brand new insults... Is it worth having that long scene, just to deliver those insults? Well, it would be if you're writing a story about insulting shopkeepers. But, for this one, such a long scene may be distracting and the reader is going to wonder why it's in the story and they'll keep wondering that until they finish the book! Don't lose your way with creative side-tracks that don't add value to your story and the time your reader is spending with it. Write what you intend to write - Focus.

    4) BE UNIQUE!


    This last bit is what every writer wants. They want their story to be unique, their characters unique in their individual and special uniqueness and their setting to be the most unique ever related in any fictional work! However, that never happens.

    "Everything has already been written."

    Everything has already been written. No amount of twisting, shaping, hammering or gluing is going to guarrantee that any one aspect of your story will be unique - It won't be. No "story" you will ever write will be unique in the history of the written word. Someone else has already written what you have wrote. They may have done it better or worse, but they've already done it. The key, the most important thing you can ever remember is that you and your skill as a writer will make the reader's experience unique. So, yes, you can write "just another story about rescuing a princess" just like a hundred others have written. But, it can be unique and more entertaining because of its uniqueness if you choose a science-fiction setting for it, rather than a medieval fantasy one. Add a Death Star instead of a Castle, a dark armored magician that flies a space-ship, instead of an evil wizard or dark knight, and next thing you know, you don't have a unique story, you have a unique experience for the reader.

    That is why readers keep buying books. They're not looking for unique stories. There are no unique stories for them to find. Instead, they're looking for unique experiences. Create that! Create a unique experience. That is what you must "Do."

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by squaremuffin View Post
    ... What are the principal "Do's and Don'ts" when attempting to write your first novel?
    So, you're in an artist's studio, talking to Famous Artist #34 and you ask "What are the principal "Do's and Don'ts" when attempting your first painting?" What do you think that artist will say? How could you apply it to writing?

    1) People have to be able to see it. So, use paint.

    In other words, people have to be able to read what you wrote, so it's a good idea to use grammatically correct sentences and correctly spelled words. This is important and a definite "Do." But, grammar isn't the only important thing to deal with, in this respect. You should, when possible, use a few standard bits of mechanics that people have come to "expect" when they read fiction. In other words, you're going to have a story and in order to tell that story, you have to tell it! That's the only way anyone is going to be able to "read" or otherwise "see" your story - Use appropriate and well understood mechanisms, like "characters" and "narrator" and "appropriate points of view" as well as a "setting" or "situation" in which your characters interact or are acted upon. Have a "plot", somewhere. Try to have a "protagonist" and an "antagonist", or at least something that works against the protagonist in obtaining their "goal." You should have a beginning, a middle and an end, each fairly clearly defined portions of your story. When finished, the reader should be able to identify what parts of your story were the "beginning" and which ones you used as "the middle" and, finally, what the "ending" was, besides being able to tell others what your story was about.

    2) Paint something that people will want to see.

    As a writer, you want to write something that people will want to read. If you're writing fiction, that means that you have to get the reader interested in your story. To do that you need to have a few things, though these things can change, depending on the type of story :

    a) A lead character the reader can understand or otherwise relate to. They don't have to be able to fully comprehend the wonderful depth you've given to the character just after reading the first paragraph, but it needs to be a character that, eventually, the reader can understand. A story about a shoe is not interesting, especially if told from the shoe's point of view, unless you add elements to the "character" of the shoe that anthropomorphizes it. So, a "speaking shoe" is, immediately, interesting and not just because it's a shoe that can speak, but because "we" speak and the reader can start throwing all sorts of interesting attributes at the shoe. Make your characters understandable by the reader, even if they're a shoe.

    b) People like interesting settings. That's why you rarely find stories with dull ones. Character-based stories, on the other hand, focus the "interesting" component on the character. (See "a") But, most other stories are going to have some sort of interesting setting. An interesting setting will help encourage your reader to keep reading, as you slowly reveal the complexities of the environment your characters are interacting with. So, "Do" use an interesting setting, where appropriate, for your story.

    c) Write well. By that, I mean do your best to engage the interest of the reader and do all that you can not to loose it! If you come upon something interesting in your story, don't ignore it. For instance,

    "What's that over there? I haven't seen that, before!" said Clarence

    "Oh, that's a flying elephant. They're all over these parts," answered Fred. "I bet you don't see them very often. But, pay it no mind, we have a birthday party to go to!"


    No description of the elephant, no reason it's there, no significance communicated to the reader, even though that particular flying elephant will decide to land on the tent in which the birthday party is being held... So, anticipate what your readers will find interesting and be sure to give them a little of it while you're telling your story, which you hope the readers will find even more interesting. It's not easy to just "create interesting", though. You have to work at it. Some of your inspiration will come from your own knowledge of other people, yourself, a setting, an occupation, a period in history, a war, automobile repair.. whatever. The point is that a reader's interest can be piqued by all sorts of things. Anticipate those and, with some luck, you'll be able to add some new things for readers to be interested it.

    3) You don't want to paint what you didn't want to paint!


    But, if a flying elephant doesn't belong in your story, don't put it in your story. Adding "bells and whistles" to a story in which they have little real significance is a definite "Don't." Don't succumb to adding special effects in lieu of quality content that focuses on telling a story. For instance, if you have a wonderful passage that involves your protagonist interacting, at length, with a common shopkeeper who has no significance to anything at all in the story and only appears in this once scene, then why are you spending so much time with it? Is it a story about shopkeepers? Are you in danger of having an "extra" take over your story? Focus... Focus, focus, focus... If it doesn't add to the story in some way, then you don't put it into the story. There are certain things that may not seem to add much, however, but are kept in the story in order to serve a purpose. So, let's take the shopkeeper example. Suppose we want to show the protagonist as a very unpleasant fellow? Well, we may have to do that by having them interact with other people. In this scene, the protagonist and shopkeeper argue, quite a bit. But, the scene might stretch a bit too long as you, in your enthusiasm, delight with inventing several brand new insults... Is it worth having that long scene, just to deliver those insults? Well, it would be if you're writing a story about insulting shopkeepers. But, for this one, such a long scene may be distracting and the reader is going to wonder why it's in the story and they'll keep wondering that until they finish the book! Don't lose your way with creative side-tracks that don't add value to your story and the time your reader is spending with it. Write what you intend to write - Focus.

    4) BE UNIQUE!


    This last bit is what every writer wants. They want their story to be unique, their characters unique in their individual and special uniqueness and their setting to be the most unique ever related in any fictional work! However, that never happens.

    "Everything has already been written."

    Everything has already been written. No amount of twisting, shaping, hammering or gluing is going to guarrantee that any one aspect of your story will be unique - It won't be. No "story" you will ever write will be unique in the history of the written word. Someone else has already written what you have wrote. They may have done it better or worse, but they've already done it. The key, the most important thing you can ever remember is that you and your skill as a writer will make the reader's experience unique. So, yes, you can write "just another story about rescuing a princess" just like a hundred others have written. But, it can be unique and more entertaining because of its uniqueness if you choose a science-fiction setting for it, rather than a medieval fantasy one. Add a Death Star instead of a Castle, a dark armored magician that flies a space-ship, instead of an evil wizard or dark knight, and next thing you know, you don't have a unique story, you have a unique experience for the reader.

    That is why readers keep buying books. They're not looking for unique stories. There are no unique stories for them to find. Instead, they're looking for unique experiences. Create that! Create a unique experience. That is what you must "Do."

  7. #17
    DO
    love your characters
    have fun with it
    ask others here for help, or encouragement, if you need it
    pat yourself on the back, because very few people have the courage to write a novel

    DON'T
    listen to anyone who says you can't.

  8. #18
    When there is something difficult to write, do write it, don't sit and think about it. To a large extent the difficulties sort themselves out as you go, if not you have something to edit
    Visit my website to read and connect to my 'soundcloud', where you can listen to stories songs and more
    Hidden Content

    A thread of links useful to writers wishing to learn
    Piglet's picks. Hidden Content

  9. #19
    For me, DO: what you want and write whatever you want to write about.
    Dont: Let other people's judgement or criticism get into you. Take it constructively and use it to inspire you to do better

  10. #20
    Do - Write in the way you like to read (which goes with the read, read and read thingee)
    Do - Allow your creativity to soar
    Do - Believe you can make it to the end
    Do - Have fun, let the tears flow, like the laughter erupt and continue to travel on your writing journey

    Don't give into self-doubt and fear
    Don't allow others to stifle your unique creative voice
    Where you can purchase a copy of Fallen Sun, my second novel. Hidden Content

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