Keep Your Writing Sharp…By Reading A Lot

The following wonderful writing advice was found at Carrie’s Procrastinatory Outlet. Her original post is about why we, as writers, should analyze why we, as readers, decide to put a book down. This analysis should improve our writing and help us with our editing, is her main point. I decided to share her writing tips with you, but click the link above if you want to read the original blog post or start reading Carrie on a normal basis.

  • Once you’ve made a point, move on. Don’t belabor, don’t get mired down in dialoge that doesn’t move the story forward. Especially in the beginning.
  • When you’ve got a hook and when you sell the book to the reader based on that hook, get to the hook early. Don’t make us sit around and wait; that can make the reader antsy.
  • Corollary to above: if the reader knows the hook is coming don’t make like it’s some big surprise to the reader. And don’t make that the only thing we’re reading for either.If we know the book is about the woman getting dumped by her boyfriend and so she has to go out and figure out her life (or whatever) don’t drag out the first two chapters when she’s all nervous cause she thinks he’s going to propose to her at the special dinner he planned when we all know she’s about to be dumped cause that’s what the book is about. Sure, make it a cute scene, but don’t spend too long.

    We already know what happens (this is my personal back cover blurb rule: if the reader will know something by reading the back cover blurb, don’t drag it out in the book – or at least don’t make that be the only reason the reader is turning pages cause there will be no payoff).

  • Be creative with the middle of the book (so much easier said than done, eh?) Don’t necessarily go with the first idea that strikes you. I can’t remember who said to brainstorm 20 options for each big plot point because you never know what kind of crazy, yet appropriate, stuff you’ll come up with.I guess I’m trying to say that sometimes the obvious is good, but sometimes it’s boring. I think this is more important for plot based books: I like less obvious for plot based books. If it’s character based I don’t mind so much if the plot is obvious because I care more about the characters and how the plot is a reflection of them.
  • Make every scene count. Don’t give the reader the option of putting the book down. So much easier said than done, eh?

Carrie’s original post written February 3, 2007 at