Tips & Tricks: A Writer's Foundation

Sunday, January 11, 2015

You may be wondering what the heck is this new meme here on my blog. Well, this is going to be a bi-monthly post where I talk about the tips and tricks I've learned through my years of writing. 
Now that probably makes you want to ask, "Who does this chick think she is, and why does she think she knows all the tips and tricks to writing?"

Well, that's not entirely true. I don't know everything about writing, but I do know a lot. I've been writing creatively for nearly 7 or 8 years now, and I've been writing seriously for the past 5 years. I got a BA in English in 2012 and I'm currently getting my MA in Creative Writing with hopes of going on to my PhD in British Literary Studies. That being said, I have experience both in the traditional studies field as well as creative writing, which I hope will be helpful to other writers here in the book blogging community.

My goal is to lead you through the process of being a writer. This meme is a guide. I want you to pay particular attention the word guide. What I post in Tips & Tricks is not law. It's not the only rules a writer has to adhere or even listen to. It's just a guide. Everything that I mention in my Tips & Tricks meme may not work for you, and that is completely okay, but it's also good for you to know just in case. This meme is to help you writers along, but feel free to tweak it and make it fit your personality, pace, and writing style. 

"Please, if you continue, remember first that words can bleed."
-Professor C. Lewis Watkins, Cambridge, Massachusetts 
The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

I feel like this may be a bit redundant for many of you book bloggers, or people who follow book blogs, because that in and of itself means that we read. We read good, bad, ugly, abhorrently terrible, and ecstatically life-changing books. We read them all, and we need to continue to do so. 

Our writing is founded in the books we read. So we need to make sure to read widely and deeply. Read other genres, different authors, and outside our comfort zones. But take it a step farther and actually analyze the books you read. I'm not just talking about fawning over the love interest in a story and how much the boy had major swoony swag. I'm talking about dissecting a novel in order to understand what makes the main character tick or the romance so swoon-worthy. What does the author do to invoke emotion? What does the author do to impact the reader?

This is where we begin as writers. We look and analyze and dissect in order to understand how we can do what these authors do. Once we understand this, we can adopt it into our own writing and then make it fit to match our personality, style, etc. 

I personally, would start by reading a book you've read before, and when you do, ask yourself the following questions:
+ What do you like or don't like about this book?
+ How does the author go about making the reader feel?
Can you map out the development of the main character?
How does the author design their plot?
+ What about the plot sucks you in as a reader?
What makes the reader able to empathize with the main character or villain?
What does the author do to impact the reader after the book is finished?

There are a thousand other questions you could ask. You're smart, so I'm sure you have other questions in mind. Ask those and really dig deep. 

Remember your English teachers in middle school and high school who taught you about identifying literary devices? Well that will probably come in handy now too. Those are great ways to analyze literature and figure out why authors do what they do.

Lesson 1: Reading is the foundation to writing. If you don't have books, you don't have anything.

"You learn to write by writing, and by reading and thinking about how writers have created their characters and invented their stories. If you are not a reader, don't even think about being a writer."
-Jean M. Auel


  1. I think those are valuable questions for reviewers, too. They might help you break down and arrange your thoughts. (Sometimes, after finishing a book, my brain is just kind of overwhelmed. Specific questions could help me figure out what, exactly, I liked and didn't like.)

    1. I've found myself asking those same questions in general, just because I'm a writer, and then I realize that they actually help me write the reviews too! But then there are some books that I just read and enjoy and don't even bother analyzing. Sometimes those just need to sit and steep in your mind! :)


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