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blog So, You Want to Be a Writer?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Svrtnsse, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Svrtnsse submitted a new blog post:

    So, You Want to Be a Writer?
    by Nils Ödlund

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    In order to be a writer, there is one thing that you must do: write.

    Really, that's all there is to it. Sit down and write. You'll be a writer.

    What's a little more difficult is to write something that others enjoy reading. I found that out the hard way. Just because I'd written something, it didn't mean everyone else automatically enjoyed it.

    A few years ago (maybe five or six), I posted an excerpt of a chapter from the first draft of my would-be debut novel. I expected to receive praise and adoration for my beautifully flowing prose, and for my intriguing world-building – or, well, at least some positive comments.

    This did not happen.

    Instead, I received a few remarks about things I didn't know what they were, and didn't understand, but which seemed important. Passive prose. Tension. Telling instead of showing. I also received a bunch of helpful advice and suggestions, and slowly, I came to the realisation that I might not be quite the literary genius I imagined myself to be.

    In this article, I'll share some of the things I did in order to try and become a better writer. What I won't do, is tell you how to be a better writer, or even what it means to be a good writer.

    1. Admit there's room for improvement.

    The first thing I did, I already described above. I really was convinced I was an awesome writer, and while I haven't quite gotten that notion...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
     
  2. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Years ago I stumbled upon a tip that I found very helpful:

    Listen to audiobooks of great novels.

    There is a certain rhythm to great writing that doesn't come naturally to everyone. When you listen to audiobooks, you begin to pick up on this rhythm and internalize it.
     
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Yes, or even better, read great novels out loud to yourself. There is a rhythm, but there is also a taste to the words. Sounds crazy, but it's true. When you read great literature out loud you can taste the words. You will notice a distinct difference if you read your own work out loud. Slowly though, you start to learn how to get the rhythm, and the flavour of the words.
     
  4. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    These are great pieces of advice. It's been a long time since I myself listened to an audiobook, but it's something that used to happen a lot as a kid. When going on vacation with the family, my parents would borrow an audiobook (on cassette tapes) and play it on the stereo in the car. It was, probably, a good way to keep us kids quiet, and it was usually good stories.

    I've not read my own stories out loud, either to myself, or to anyone else, but I've found that I often sound out the sentences I write in my head, as if I were reading them. I don't know that it has the same effect, but I think it might tie back to having been read to a lot as a kid.
     
  5. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Nice work, Nils! Your article is informative and I think many writers can relate to your experience. The first point of admitting there's room for improvement is one we should never forget.
     
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  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Thank you. :)
     
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  7. Very well said Nils. I think, of all the creative arts, writing may be the most like a high wire act to master. So many facets of it to learn, develop and work on to pull it all together, but it can be done. I really appreciated your take on it and the advice that any writer or aspiring writer can benefit from.
     
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  8. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Thank you. Very happy to hear you like it. :)

    And there is indeed a whole lot of things that need to come together in order for it all to work out.
     
  9. Daisy Simpson

    Daisy Simpson New Member

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    Reading is the best option for a writer to improve their writing skills.
     
  10. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I think reading a lot is probably the one thing that has the biggest impact on someone's writing skill, but I'm not sure it's always the best thing.

    For a writer who's read a lot, reading will still be beneficial (and enjoyable), but there may be other ways to study/improve the craft that will have greater impact.
     
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  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    There are many, many people who read much and write badly. At the same time, I doubt there are many good writers who read little.There's a relationship there, but it's not really causative.

    The thing that always puzzled me about the advice is that it seems wasted on writers and non-writers alike. The former will read anyway, and the latter will not be helped by it.

    Moreover, reading is not a universal constant. There's reading critically and reading for enjoyment, and then there's reading as a writer. That last has potential, but I find very little advice on the point.
     
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  12. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    The title reminds of this I saw many years ago.

     
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  13. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Hmm, I would say writing is far better... and then reading what you wrote over and over and over and over, and self-editing over and over and over and over, heh heh.

    Now, if there is a reading I found useful to my writing, it was reading unpublished manuscripts and figuring out what I don’t like. Why? Well, more mistakes than pro-edited books, but also, those writers were looking for feedback so I was reading the text in a different manner than a book I picked up at B&N. This in turn helped me identify versions of the same issues in my own writing. Also, I think reading pub’d authors who get away with bad writing can influence a person and convince them that “So and so does it, so why can’t I?” This is a dangerous fallacy.
     
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  14. The Dark One

    The Dark One Inkling

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    Strongly endorse reading aloud during the editing phase. It really helps identify the superfluous - right down to the syllable.

    I'd also suggest that reading generally is critical. It's formative, from an early age, as it teaches all the basic skills plus an intuitive understanding of storytelling. Then later, from a professional perspective, it's important to know what's happening in the market both from a substance and craft perspective. Anyone who doesn't read a lot is unlikely to be successful as a writer.

    Of course, nothing is impossible.
     
  15. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Troubadour

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    Writing (every day—or near enough—over a long period of time) is the best way to improve your writing skills, but there are many other things you can do to improve. Reading widely is one of them. Another is reading your dialogue aloud. It's a good way to get it sounding more natural. It won't make your dialogue great, but it will get rid of awkward phrasing.
     
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  16. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Related: read your book and record the reading as if doing an audiobook. When Eve of Snows was put into audio, it changed my perspective a bit, raised questions even if I didn’t go back and change anything but a couple mistakes it caught.

     
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  17. Brianna Sharp

    Brianna Sharp Acolyte

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    Thank you
     
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  18. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    You're very welcome. :)
     
  19. CelestialGrace

    CelestialGrace Minstrel

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    Yes, reading dialogue aloud is a great tip. And it can help when dealing with an especially awkward passage too.

    As someone that reads stories aloud for a podcast, and has done story time etc, I can't stress enough that people need to read more of their work aloud; something that reads well on the page doesn't always read well when read aloud. Our brains have a way of glossing over some difficult passages, but our tongues can't always manage it.

     
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  20. vivienne

    vivienne Acolyte

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    Great advice! I really enjoyed your article! Another thing that works for me creatively is listening to podcasts. Philosophy podcasts, for example, tackle all sorts of topics that could be worth exploring with your own characters.
     
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