Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Guest Post: The Best Advice To Being A Good Writer

Harry influenced a lot of us to write!

If I could give any advice for writing, it would be this:
Read, and then write.
That’s not advice, you think.  That’s barely a sentence.  But honestly, these are the two biggest things you can do to improve your wording and your stories in general.
First, read, and read voraciously.  Start by reading the kinds of books that you want to write, but don’t stop there.  If you love science fiction, making up your own worlds, and defying the laws of this planet, then yes, read Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, and Orson Scott Card.  But even if you don’t love science fiction, read those authors anyway.  And read Dostoevsky and Dickens, Shakespeare and Eliot, and Joyce and Austen and C.S. Lewis.  Read YA novels, and Romantic poetry, and non-fiction books about string theory or the Romanovs.   Read as much as possible.  I rediscovered my library a few years ago, and it’s a beautiful thing, for “Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future” (Ray Bradbury).
When you read as a writer, not only do you enjoy the stories, but you ask yourself why you enjoy them.  Which parts of dialogue do you like? How did the author use different literary elements in his plot? And what made you get so attached to the anti-hero and his internal struggle?
Most of all, don’t waste time on poorly-written books (unless you want an example of what not to do). Read the classics.  But classics are long and boring! You say.  They’re hard to get through!  And that can be true.  But sometimes, the most rewarding things in life are hard to reach, and you might have to do a little digging to get there.  I can promise you it’s worth the effort.  There’s a reason we still read classics today.  They touch on some sort of eternal truth in a way that spoke to their own society and still speaks to us.
So read for your own pleasure and to inform your writing.  But as you’re reading (and expanding your vocabulary!), remember this:  do not be discouraged.  Learn from what you read, but try not to compare your work to it.  No, you aren’t as good as these wonderful, famous authors.  Will you ever reach their level? Maybe not.  And that’s okay!  You’re learning! I get so discouraged sometimes when I see how beautiful some literature is, but I keep going.  And that brings me to our last point:
Write.  Write something every day.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a journal, a short story, a poem, or a few hundred words of a novel.  Writing is both inspiration and craft.  Craft is the way you put words together, the technical side of things.  Inspiration is the content, that extra breath inside of your work that brings it to life and says something important and true.  Although reading will help with that, inspiration is not something that you can really learn.  But you can learn craft.  In that aspect, writing is like playing piano or a sport – it requires practice.  So, practice! 
Save everything you write, no matter how bad you think it is.  Finally, find someone you trust to read your work – someone who will be both kind and honest.  Just as musicians need teachers and athletes need coaches, writers need mentors.  This is often forgotten because the actual act of writing is solitary.  The process, however, is not.
So, read well, write often, and don’t give up!  Good luck and God bless.

You can find Kristen online at The Paradigm Shifts, her blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Add to the conversation! Thank you for commenting on TWFT!