Reblog: 11 Ways to Write Better

by The Minimalist

We are all writers now. Whether you write books, blogposts, emails, tweets, or text messages, you are a writer. No matter your preferred medium, here are a few tips to help you write more effectively:

Treat text messages like prose. Before hitting the send button, look over your text: check spelling, content, punctuation. Ask yourself: What am I attempting to communicate? What am I attempting to express? Be more deliberate with your most common form of casual writing, and you’ll automatically become more deliberate in other mediums.

Words are tools. Expand your vocabulary to make your writing more precise. There’s no need to use a ten-dollar word when a ten-cent word will suffice, but having more tools in your toolbox will allow you to select the most appropriate tool for the job. Because sometimes you need an ax, sometimes you need a scalpel. So pick one new word each day, and then use it at least 21 times in your conversations with others that day. The most useful words will stick, and your vocabulary will expand over time.

Read the rest here.

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Writing Fiction For Dummies and My Fiction History

I’ve been reading this fabulous book called…..*cough*, this is rather embarrassing; Ahem. ‘Writing Fiction….For Dummies’. The title is actually very good. I thought I knew a lot about writing fiction. This book is blowing me through the water.
I’m certainly not new to writing fiction–I have been writing fiction since I was young.  My first writings were about this made-up family who had three kids; Tom, Jan and James were they’re names. Anyway. I wrote my ‘Tom Stories’ till I got about the age of ten, and then kinda dropped writing. Then, the year Nathan was born, I picked it up again. Mostly because I, Kayla, and our cousins Ben and Bethany all made up fictional super hero characters based after ourselves. Bethany, Kayla and I all fell into writing our own version of ‘The Super Cousins’. They were quite ridiculous. That threw me back on track with writing stories.I wrote allegories (which were mostly war stories). I wrote other ‘Cousin Stories’—I still do. I was also writing miscellaneous stories and adventures about a group of characters I had borrowed from a children’s book series with made up characters of my own. It was with this series of stories that helped me develop my ‘infamous’ Carmichael family…more on them in a different post.
And then at about fourteen or fifteen, I was inspired by my dear young friend Moriah H to write a story with cats in it. That was my big break, if you will. I pulled out my Carmichael family and began writing a mystery story involving them, their church friends, and a bunch of cats. The book became large quickly, because I was working with characters I was very familiar with (most of the Carmichael children are based after our family, cousins and a few friends). I wrote about 3/4th of the book in about a year, and then dropped it…exhuasted, I guess. I know my brain hurt. Maybe a year passed, and I left it silent in my computer brain. And then, my second big break came. Another dear friend, Rebekah J, began sending me her stories (through email). In return, I sent my first chapter of ‘my cat book’. She and her sisters began to gobble my story up. I was feeling fresh again, and so I finished the story pretty much by that Christmas, partly because I wanted to get it done, and partly because I couldn’t leave the girls hanging (because, my story is a mystery/drama/comedy). That book is now done in its first draft, about 239 pages long. This is the unedited version. I’m in the thick of its sequel, and it’s about 188 pages long. Rebekah is now editing the first. Or suppose to be editing it. LOL. She’s editing two of her own books right now too. :D
Anyway, I’m beginning to wonder what I was originally talking about. Oh, yes. The ‘Writing Fiction for Dummies’. I thought I knew how to write fiction (having been writing it for ages). Kayla is convince I know how. She’s shocked I need to read this book. But it’s been excellent stuff! It talks about what makes a great story, and finding your audience and category, different ways to write fiction, creating compelling characters, building your fictional world….on and on. I’m on chapter eight! I’ve been reading none stop. Evening take notes (and I never take notes on anything, ever!). This book has been very helpful, and I recommend it for anyone wanting to seriously write a good novel.
You see, I’m getting ready to write a thriller….a story of knights, castles, damsels, kingdoms, sword fights, treacherous journeys, dangerous river rides, evil princes and MAYBE a dragon fight. I’m still considering the dragon.  Anyway, it’s going to be more thought through than any other book I’ve written (and I’ve written TONS of books–hardly any of them are really finished though).  I won’t officially decide on the title of my book till I’m done writing it, but I’ve given it a name for now—just to reference. I’m refering to it as, “A Tale of Two Knights and a Princess”. Not bad, eh?

I’ve tried writing medieval stories before, but they’ve always turned out cheesy, over dramatic, or absolutely ridiculous by ten pages. Now I know why. It’s because I was writing without any knowledge, and without much preparation. Since then, I’ve heard medieval drama stories (the Kingdom Series), have seen a couple of medieval movies (Pendragon) and have just recently been having a plot turning in my head. I’ve been developing my characters, and making them up now before I start writing. Normally,  when I start off with a book idea, I have a few main people (normally either ‘Us Cousins’ or ‘The Carmichaels’) and I just fly, making up characters and just changing the plot twists as I go. I’m what ‘Writing Fiction’ calls, ‘Seat-of-the-pants’ writer. And many of my stories have come out well like that. But I knew that if I wanted this book to be the best, I would need to slow down. I’ve written the first couple chapters of it already, but I’m forcing myself to read ‘Writing Fiction’ the whole way first before I really dive into it.
And the embarrassing  part? Oh, just the fact that the book says ‘For Dummies’.  LOL. Anyway, I’m looking forward to finishing the book (I might do another post on the rest of the things I’ve learned. And, if I do good with my book, I might post parts of it up for you all to read. Maybe. We’ll see what Kayla thinks……She’s my ‘commenter-and-complainer-and complimenter-in-chief’ when it comes to hearing my books :D.
I’ll be doing another post of the “For Dummies” Series very soon. Maybe later today, or tomorrow. :D

~Jamie