1. USE OUTLINES. They will keep you on track, they will keep you from getting stuck and not knowing where to go, they will literally save your life. No joke. It makes sense, cause if you don't know what you want to write then you'll either do one of two things:
a) Write nothing.
b) Babble incessantly about things that ultimately don't have anything to do with anything in your story because you're just writing to figure it out for yourself. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that, but you can avoid the hassle and give yourself a break by using outlines to keep you on track.
As a disclaimer: this doesn't *always* work like you think it would. I finished a sixty chapter fantasy novel last year. I had a tremendous fifteen or so page outline with a paragraph of description for each of those sixty chapters. And you know what? My stupid characters decided they were going to play "real person" and decide their own fates. I know, how inconsiderate, right? It was ridiculous and now I have a first draft of over 200,000 words with dozens of characters and plots running absolutely amok, killing each other, starting wars...
So yeah. Be kind to yourself and use outlines. Even though they probably won't actually save your life, cause your characters are generally hellbent on ruining it - if they're anything like MY characters anyway.
2. DON'T BE A PERFECTIONIST (at least, not at first). If you want to finish a story ever at any point in your existence you've got to put aside that awful, innate desire for it to be perfect right away. Just write the dang thing. Forget about it being The Best and Shiniest Novel Ever™ because it's simply not going to be right now. You've got to face the facts otherwise you'll end up like this...
|actual footage of me|
3. SHOW - DON'T TELL. When you write, you want to be showing, not telling. That just means leave it up to your audience to understand characters and situations. If you have a character who is a compulsive liar rather than saying or describing that straight up, let the audience figure it out through the narrative. Show how the character lies all the time with the plot, don't just say that he does. Make us believe it! This is a basic rule of description and great for character/plot development as well.
|what it looks like to try and make show - don't tell - work|
4. SOME CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT KEYS. Show - don't tell//Develop characters through each other, just like people in real life, characters are shaped by other characters and their relationships//Develop characters through struggle and hardship, this is how we develop in reality//Don't put characters in molds, types or stereotypes, round them out. Real people are always very out-of-the-box when you get to know them//Avoid basing characters off yourself - though I like to take aspects of myself that I struggle with or put myself into other situations for inspiration.
|your well-developed characters will be proud of you|
5. ORIGINAL SMIGINAL. Don't worry about being original, that isn't your goal as a writer. Your goal is to write a story worth reading. And if that's the case then your audience will enjoy it, whether it's completely, totally original or not.
And there you have it, Emily's Top Writing Tips. The thing you never knew you needed in your life. You're welcome.
Do you guys have any go-to writing tips for fellow writers? What are some things that have really helped you along in your writing journey? Share them below.