Today I’m hitting you with 8 of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever received (quick recall so I likely neglect to mention at least a dozen others…always another post for another Monday). I’m taking the advice I learned and serving it to you Wendy-style (which basically just means giving it to you topped off with my own experience).
Give every character a secret
I don’t remember exactly where this one came from, but it sounds like a Donald Maass tip to me. Constructing novels with this in mind has done wonders to ramp up the intrigue factor in my books. It invites twists in my stories in unexpected and plot-developing places. Secrets = gold for whenever you need more tension.
Sleep on it
It’s imperative to give your story time. Think of your ideas like old school Chia pets. They need time to grow (some more than others). I’ve lost track of how many times I thought I had a story wrapped up and one long soak in the tub or one sleepless night later I’m toying with a whole new spin. Not thinking days or weeks even on this one. Try months or years even.
Motivation is king
Always know why your character chooses to make an important decision. Take copious notes. Study your characters the same way you memorized everything about your significant other in the early stages of the relationship when you’d do anything to prove how in love you were.
Don’t be married to being a plotter or pantser
I used to be a pantser. But I’ve come over to the dark side. Or should I say the partially lit side. I’m both now. I plot and I pants. And I can tap my head and rub my belly at the same time. There are valid points about writing a novel using each of these methods. Get to know what they are. Experiment with both. (Plotters, it won’t kill you.)
Make every sentence work to further the plot
Don’t waste words.
Start in the center of it all
Don’t build up to your start. Invite the reader straight into the center of the action. There’s time to explain. And if you’re a seasoned writer, you’ll find a way to incorporate setting and character introductions skillfully as you throw your readers in the ring.
Theme meet Character, Character meet Theme
Know how the theme of your story influences every single character. Work it. Work it.
Create a satisfying ending
while leaving the reader longing for more.
I’ve read dozens of books on the craft. I’ve also written thirteen novels, and I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. I can honestly say the above 8 are the nuggets of advice I keep coming back to. They’re my compass, navigating me through the sometimes rocky terrain of completing a work. Hope they help!