The first bit of advice people always give writers is “write what you know”. That’s still good advice, but there are other things you should do as well. The first is research.
Research lets you know more about what you want to write about. It can let you know about things you might need to write mysteries, fantasies and science fiction. That’s the real meaning behind the advice “write what you know”. If you are writing a mystery, you should know poisons, if that’s how the victim in your story dies. I don’t mean research like you are writing a dissertation on the subject, but do some so you don’t make glaring errors. Do enough so your characters sound like they know what they are doing.
The next bit of advice I have is to put your work in a folder and leave it for a while after you finish the first draft. Revision is important. Sometimes, though, you need to distance yourself from a work before you begin revising it. It’s said that distance makes the heart grow fonder, but if you are in love with a passage in your book that doesn’t quite fit. It’s better to find it later. I had an opening to a novel I’m currently revising that I loved. It was poetic. It was descriptive. It would have taken three seconds of time if the novel was a movie. It was four or five pages that didn’t fit the story. After letting the story rest for almost a year, I came back to it and realized the opening needed to go. Now, you don’t have to let the work “rest” for a year, but even a few days can get you out of the honeymoon phase of writing the work. So give it a rest, if you can. You will find the trouble spots faster if you do.
The last bit of advice I have for you in this blog is to read your work aloud. Often you will find typos that you might have missed as well as those awkward phrases that can look find, but when you hear them, they make you stop and say, “Huh?”. That’s why you need to read the work aloud. That said, I hate reading aloud. So I make my computer do it. Text to speech is a wonderful tool for this. I can follow along while the computer is reading the text. That’s the best way to find typos. Keep in mind that computer reading has its limitations. The computer will only pronounce the word “read” one way. There is something to keep in mind when using spell check find the errors in your work. Thas is that it only finds words spelled wrong. If the word is not the right one for the context of the sentence, your computer will not flag it. It will only mark it if the spelling is incorrect. You will hear the difference if the word you used was not right.
I hope my words of advice help you make your writing stronger and better. We can’t keep all the typos out of our work. They are sneaky things, but we can limit their numbers. Good luck and keep writing.
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