Welcome to Writing Success

Learn to Write Easily

Fulfill your dream to become a writer. Decide to get started and begin.

If you have considered writing, you might want to research genres (categories or different types of writing) to see which area you would enjoy. You can write in more than one genre.

For a description of many genres visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_writing_genres

There are many advantages to learning to write. Publishing is an option, but not required for you to be successful as a writer.

The key is to get started and to have fun.

Use a Creative Writing Journal

How to use a creative writing journal. Write anything that comes to mind which isn’t directly related to your life. Story ideas, locations, characters, random thoughts, start with and use your ideas to start to write your story. You are going to add the plot and events. Jot down what your goals are. Use all of those things on your list to construct a short story.

Pick a word out of your journal entries and write a paragraph or a little short story, either including that word or based on that word. These are called word prompts.

Write several stories coming from completely different directions. Then write more conversations and dialogues to match the different stories you are creating. If you have a character collection, start changing out your stories and see if the plot changes in your writing. Look for words to help you find inspiration. Write down loads of observations about the country and people you are introducing to your story.

Write down little prompts as you think of them or they can escape from you. Think of a name, age, apparent talents, something your character would totally do, something they definitely wouldn’t do, professional aspirations and their biggest regrets. Keep colecting these short senerios. They can be added as you are inspired.

Read a little of what you have done and then sprinkle in some of your inspirations to enhance your plot. If you are part way through the writing when you have to stop, you have it in your journal and can start again when you have another time you can write.

Sometimes you will end up putting several of your short stories together. It can be interesting how they blend. No right or wrong, just keep having fun with your words, story lines, characters and your finished projects.

How to Write a Book: 12 Foundational Steps

So you want to write a book? Here are 12 good foundational steps that you can follow.
1) Establish your writing space. Decide what you need: solitude? Make sure you find a place where you can have privacy and silence. Set up your equipment and space so you can easily write.
2) Assemble your writing tools. Make a list of all the things you’re going to need: EX: paper clips or a stapler. Have those within arm’s length so you don’t get distracted by having to look for things if you need them.
3) Break the project into as many small pieces as you can. Realize it’s a 4 to 500 page manuscript in the end but that’s made up of sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Do one step at a time.
4) Settle on your big idea or storyline.
5) Construct your outline to have some sort of idea where you are going. Outlining ideas are covered in another post for you. Give yourself some direction of where you’re going. Your outline serves you not the other way around. If you find yourself drifting from it, change the outline, don’t change the book.
6) Set a firm writing schedule that includes a definite finish time. The way you do that is figure out roughly how many pages you are going to write for your book, (300, 400, 500,etc) and divide that into the number of days you are giving yourself to write. This may change once you get started and realize how many or how few pages you can write per day. Schedule yourself for the number of pages you can comfortably write. Be determined so you will stay on schedule. It can be adjusted as needed. Only about 1 in 100 writers literally meet their deadlines. If you just meet your finish goal, you set yourself apart from ninety nine out of a hundred writers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re going find the time to write because without a dedicated time schedule you will be distracted by a concert, a ballgame, a favorite TV show or other events in your life.
7) Draw from your own experience and research the details you are using in your content. If you can pull off a compelling first line, it will set the tone for your entire book. Every decision you make in your manuscript should go through the filter of your reader first, not you first, not editor first, not agent first, not reviewer first, or not critic first. Reader first.
8) Fill your story with conflict and tension when it is appropriate for your story line. Readers crave tension and yes this applies to fiction and nonfiction as well. What will keep people turning the pages.
9) Turn off your internal editor while you’re writing your first draft. Most writers I know are perfectionist s and have that inner critic sitting on our shoulder telling us what’s wrong with every word we write. That inner critic is just you or me and that critic needs to be told to shut up now. Always save your editing until the next day at least and the longer you can wait between when you write it and when you edit it the better for the end manuscript.
10) The marathon is in the middle. If there’s any place you want to quit it’s going to be during the middle of your book. We have great ideas to start and we can’t wait to get to that big finish but now we’ve got all those pages in the middle to fill. Keep yourself encouraged as you go through this section.
11) Write a resounding ending. To make sure your ending doesn’t fizzle, you give it the time it deserves. Do whatever it takes to make it work. Try several endings to see what will fit the best with the whole story.
12) Polish your manuscript to the point where you’re happy with every word. If you are going to a publisher they can tell within a few minutes whether your manuscript is going to be worth reading or rejecting.

About Bad Reviews

Nobody likes getting a bad review. We would prefer it if everyone agreed that our books were outstanding. As a writer you are going to get bad reviews. Don’t take it personally. You can’t please everyone. Then again, do you really want to?

Here are a few tips on how to deal with them.

Use Any Criticism to Improve
This is harder to do when you are first starting out and everything feels like a punch to your gut. Focus on a bad review as nothing but a new piece of feedback, helping you to develop and improve. Don’t try to rewrite it to overcome any bad review. If that feedback is echoed from multiple readers, consider changing the content.

Remember: sorting the helpful benefits from a bad review gets easier.

Not all Reviews are Created Equal
Some bad reviews offer honest and insightful comments about your book, judging it on its own merits and comparing it to alternative products in the market. These are good reviews, even if they don’t happen to like your book.

You will get both kinds of reviews, but your readers are just like you: they’ll be able to decipher which category each review falls into and react accordingly. In the same way, don’t take all bad reviews to heart. Some carry useful feedback and others are best left ignored.

Expand Your Pool of Proofreaders
It might be good to have more people checking for any grammatical errors or plot problemss are caught early. before your book gets into the hands of your readers. Fewer issues with your book mean fewer bad reviews.

Separate Yourself From Your Writing
Rarely does a reviewer mean something personal when they say they didn’t like your book – they’re expressing their opinion of the writing, nothing more. And just because somebody doesn’t like your book doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t like one of your other books, or that they don’t like you, or that your writing isn’t good.

It still stings, but try to remember that even though your book is a result of your passion, beliefs and imagination, it is not you.

Ignore Them
There is a rule in publishing: do not respond to reviews. Leave them alone or just ignore reviews completely. Monitor your reviews. If all reviews are coming in at one or two stars, you’re going to need to take a look at what went wrong. But if the odd bad review comes in, don’t worry about it. Don’t even look at it. Let it go and focus on what you can do with writing an even better follow-up.

Be Grateful for Them
A few negative reviews here and there can actually lend some credibility to your book page. People can get suspicious when a book has dozens of 5-star reviews, as if they’re all from your friends and family. A few negative reviews sprinkled into the mix makes them all look more authentic.

Creative Writing Exercises

Creative writing, like all language is a mode of communication. It is the highest form of self-expression, the ability to create and share a story is what makes the author an inspiration. Writers all tell stories. Every cultures is based on thousands of stories intrinsically woven together.

If you speak through your pen, which is what writing is and you put your voice onto paper no one else has to hear it until you are pleased with it. Your voice on paper is infinitely more sophisticated than anything you can possibly say because you’ve got the luxury of time.

You need time to explore your ideas, to find their voice on paper. It is important to get things wrong and not worry about it. Time for you to revel in your mistakes and learn from them. If you want to be a writer and I hope you do, then feel the response of enthusiastic laughter if you are trying to be funny. Be disgusted if you are trying to be disgusting.

You can easily break down stories into what is written and how is written. Begin with you, put loads of value on content, remain focused on the importance of content but bit by bit begin to pay equal emphasis to the structural side of things.

A great way to learn to write is to take a grade level in school and the list of words that they have to spell by the end of the year. This works particularly well if you want to write kids books. Put these words in a box. Every week pick out ten and write a story using these words.

Another fun way to write a story is to take something like chocolate and write down some of the words that describe the chocolate. Come up with a sentence the world’s never heard before.

Allow the joy of creativity to find your voice on paper. Give yourself the vital channel of self-expression that creative writing can give.

25 Mistakes that Peg You as an Amateur Writer

Their are 25 common mistakes that will peg you as an amateur writer:

  • Number one is spelling changes If you spell a name a certain way, make sure it is always spelled that way. Also  with locations and abilities. Be consistent with the capitalization, too.
  • Number two is characters that are similar. Do not have multiple characters with very similar names, similar personality attributes, or that are on same side, either the good side or the bad side in your story.
  • Number three is mistakes in procedures with different professions like Social Work, the Police, the Court System, or Forensic Scientists to name a few. You need to understand how those professions work if you are going to write about them.
  • Number four is mistakes in descriptions of medical problems, medical care, technology, or weapons. Research to make sure you understand what you are describing.
  • Number five is small talk in the dialogue that takes up a lot of space but does not mean anything, or have any relevance.
  • Number six is forgetting to include sensory information like sight, sound, and smell.
  • Number seven is naming the main character after yourself or a slight variation of your name. This will be very apparent when you go to query agents or publishers and it is a big red flag.
  • Number eight is cliches used too frequently. You do not want to rely on cliche phrases.
  • Number nine is using the same sentence construction over and over.
  • Number ten is switching between past and present tense unintentionally. Make sure you know which tense you are writing in.
  • Number eleven is pausing the story every time a character is introduced to provide a laundry list of physical descriptions. One or two descriptions is fine, but the big long paragraph of descriptions is not going to read smoothly.
  • Number twelve is over use of alternative dialog tags. Use these very sparingly.
  • Number thirteen is using more than one or two adjectives to describe a noun.
  • Number fourteen is using more words than is necessary. EX: he lifted his chin slowly and then dropped it back to his chest instead of he nodded.
  • Number fifteen is thesaurus writing. Replacing words constantly with bigger or fancier words to sound more impressive or sophisticated.
  • Number sixteen is constantly repeating the character’s name.
  • Number seventeen is repeating character’s name in dialogue. You do not normally call people by their names in dialogue very often so it can seem unnatural.
  • Number eighteen is repeating the same description over and over.
  • Number nineteen is switching the point of view of your character at random. The point of view of the character should switch because it advances the story. You want to switch smoothly so your reader does not get confused with your story.
  • Number twenty is including mundane details for no reason. The reader does not need to watch your character brush their teeth, get out of the shower or pick their clothes. These descriptions are very rarely interesting.
  • Number twenty one is describing every article of clothing every character is wearing at all times.
  • Number twenty two is using an adverb plus a verb instead of just using a stronger verb. EX: saying he moved quickly instead of he jogged.
  • Number twenty three is overly formal dialogue.
  • Number twenty four is introducing too many characters at the same  time.
  • Number twenty five is writing stage direction instead of action. Nobody needs excessive descriptions.

Beat Writer’s Block: Writing Prompts + Inspiration

Where to get inspiration. How to gather inspiration, how to use inspiration that you see in the world and adapt it to things in your story.

Some writing prompts that might help you get out of writer’s block or just help to inspire you. Some will give you an idea of how to adapt inspiration that you see in the world.

Find music that either speaks to your soul because of the instrument or because of the words. Reading poetry and listening to beautiful poetry at the same time, reading as you sit in a coffee shop can help you start to write.

People watching is so much fun. You can just have your computer there or a notepad and imagine what their lives are like. Make a story for them. This can be a great exercise that will really help you. Writing anything down and not thinking about it so hard will help more thoughts to come and flow freely. You have to be less hard on yourself. Think of the things that matter the most. What motivates people. It is especially important in writing villains or any other type of character. What is their motivation?

Ask yourself some questions like: do you believe? do you believe in fate? do you believe in aliens? do you believe in soulmates? the creation of the universe? life after death? (this doesn’t have to be religious). Just explore really deeper level things that you don’t have answers to and run with it. Say I believe this because or I don’t believe this because and you can write it from your own perspective. Also write from the perspective that you don’t believe in. Explore to expand your mind kind of exercises. Getting into someone else’s head. It can be a stepping stone for understanding the characters you are putting in your story line.

Here are some more writing prompts. You can be inspired by different things like a movie not because of the plot or specifically a character but the feel that it gives you. You can get inspiration from a sentence in the script. That sentence can bring up different questions for you and it can kind of spark something for you. How would you use that sentence to write a different set of experiences for the characters or a different outcome than you saw in the movie.

Pinterest is an amazing place to find poetry or images that can inspire you and give you a story idea. Making up a story on the spot when you see an inspirational picture or hear an inspirational quote or poem is a great way to give your mind a boost with beginning to write. Ask yourself these questions: what happened when the artist or writer created this image or these words? what happened when the shutter closed? what was happening in your artists life in that moment? what made them want to create? what made them snap the picture? (it can be dark, it could be a time of happiness, it could be the last time they took a photo of a loved one before they died). You can take your story to so many different places.

How To Come Up With Story Ideas For Your Book

Some writers ideas randomly come to them and they write them down in a notebook and start creating subplots, weaving everything together to make a well connected story. For other writers coming up with story ideas can actually be really tough. Your story ideas need to be original. Avoid copying other writers and their plot lines.

It is worth brainstorming some new ideas you may be thinking. Determine what makes your story unique and different. It is the spin that you put on all of those little subplots that make the relationships and connections between your characters stand out are actually really important. Add your own twist to the story.

Here are 7 tips for coming up with story ideas for your book.
1) Determine what genre you want to write in.
2) Determine your audience: how old will your readers be EX: children, young adults, new adults, adults.

  • If your main characters are 12 years old and younger that you are technically writing a children’s book.
  • If your characters are ages 13 through 18 think high school age then you are writing a young adult book.
  • If your characters are 19 through 30 think more college age coming into being an adult, then you’re writing a new adult book.
  • If your characters are older than 30 then you are probably writing an adult book.

Remember that by determining your audience you are setting up the tone and the theme for the book you’re going to write.

3) Your book can have more than one theme, just like you can have more than one plot. You can have sub themes, just make sure you have one major theme and one major plot. Then you can add in subplots and sub-themes to keep your story from falling flat.
4) Brainstorm now that you have your genre, target audience, and theme. Most likely you have already had a few ideas that have been floating around in your head that you’ve jotted down in a notebook somewhere. If not that is okay, you can start from scratch. Grab a large piece of paper and write your main theme in the center with a large circle around it. Underneath the theme you can write in smaller letters what challenge your main character is going to have to face and overcome. If you don’t know what challenge yet that is okay. Sometimes it is actually easier to brainstorm how you want your book to end and then work backwards to craft your story. Draw branches out from that main circle like a tree and start writing down any ideas that come to mind for your story, good or bad. Write every idea down on this large sheet of paper even if they don’t make sense at the time you are brainstorming. You may be surprised how later some of those nonsense ideas can actually be added into your story or reworked a little bit to add more depth to your plot or a subplot and it actually ends up really helping you out. There is no such thing as a bad idea.
5) Use resources. The writers idea thesaurus by Fred white gives you endless ideas at your fingertips. It can be fun to open up the writers idea thesaurus to a random page and just read one of the random ideas that’s in that book. Don’t use exactly what’s written on the page but sometimes it can give you a spark of inspiration.
6) Use your ideas to make a rough outline. In another post there is a great way to outline your book ideas.
7) Just begin writing even if it’s terrible, even if your story doesn’t fully make sense to you just yet. The writing process is all about discovering your story. You as the writer take yourself on a journey to discover your story’s potential. You discover your story as you write. The first draft is for your eyes only anyway. Write, have fun and enjoy the process as your story unfolds.

How To Outline Your Books 5-Stage Process

Some writing advice to aspiring authors as well as how to manage your time. Here is an outlining and highlighting process that might help you with your writing. It is best to have some idea as to where your story is going to go. Most people can not just sit down and start writing. Outlines can help you when you write your first book or your first series. As you start to get more comfortable with your writing style and your flow, you can get into your own groove and rhythm. You start to learn what works best for you.

In the beginning, just a very basic outline so you have the beginning, middle and end is helpful. Then some scenes may be thrown in here and there to help you remember your ideas. By no means have every scene or act completely written out and figured out before you write. With a basic outline you can add in, create and just imagine. There is no right or wrong way to do this.

Five stage outlining process:
1) a major brain storm of all the story ideas that you have in a notebook, or on the notes function in your phone or on your computer.
With those ideas written down, it is fun to play the what-if game like a) what if this happens b) what if this were to happen. The ideas can be vague in the beginning. Make sure to write them down. Ideas can be for one book or for multiple books. Any character ideas, scene ideas, chapter ideas anything that comes to mind. Write all of it down because if you don’t write it down you may not remember.
2) Try the poster board method. Take a large piece of paper or poster board, divide that poster board up by drawing two lines, then label each section chapter 1 and chapter 2 to begin. If you know the ending before you know anything else, start with chapter 3. Write down how the book is going to end or how you imagined it. Add theme or feelings you want to draw out for the reader. Ideas or characters conflict or the resolution is normally what is happening in chapter 3. Some authors like to work backwards and write down any ideas that might lead up to that you have in chapter 3, plot twists that are happening in chapter 1 or 2 that will bring you to your chapter 3 content.
3) Use index cards to write everything that you wrote down on your poster board. Write down each scene or idea and organize them a little bit more. Add a little more detail if it comes to you or if you have a new idea, write it on a new index card. Place them on the floor or on a table, and start moving them around to where you think they would fit. It will give you an idea as to how the story is going to flow. Refer to the beginning, middle and end you have already written down. This will help you get into the nitty-gritty of your book and all of the things that you want to have happen in your story. Take a picture of it before you pick up the cards. You can pin the cards on the poster board so you can see everything. Add index cards with new ideas into the story. Go ahead and write the first chapter when the whole story is really fresh in your mind.
4) Start to write and see what comes up as you write. Once you have written the first chapter you can go to your outline. Update the outline with the chapters as you go. Update chapter 1. Write chapter 2 then update your outline with the chapter 2 information. Then do it for chapter 3 and so on.
5) Update your outline immediately after writing or as soon as you can.

Using Color
Use the color yellow to highlight where you last left off in your manuscript, also highlight the chapter on your outline so you can remember exactly where you were working on your document.
For things that need to be added in later you can highlight in green.
Highlight in orange when you want to check facts or for accuracy.
Highlight in pink for character or setting details that need to be fleshed out a little bit more. Pink can also be used for a new character or a new setting, region or place.
If you are having a scene or a chapter that you are having a hard time writing about or are not feeling motivated to write, highlight those areas in blue so it reminds you to circle back and either write that chapter, paragraph, or scene over.
Use the same highlighting tool in your outline so it is easier to reference when looking at the outline. You can easily go to your manuscript find the chapter and then find the highlighted area and know exactly where you left off and what you need to do next.

How to Tell If Your Novel Idea is Good

How to know if your novel idea is a good idea. Writers will fairly often ask is this a good idea for a novel or of all of these ideas, which idea should I focus on. Understanding the idea behind your novel is rarely the determining factor and whether it’s successful or marketable. To know if a book is worth pursuing or how to know if a novel is marketable, consider these things: plot versus the idea behind the story. Many ideas are not that distinct and they are not that original.

Also consider if you have created compelling characters. A group of unique characters with a very distinct or unusual approach to a project with some sort of wow factor to elevate the story will help you write and develop the flow of the story. Make what is happening in the story more exciting.

If you want your novel idea to be strong, you want your novel to be marketable. You need to make sure that you are excited about the plot and not just the idea. An easy and a good question to ask yourself is which plot points am I excited about? Is there a surprising conflict that just comes out of nowhere or a really dramatic showdown between two characters. If you have specific plot events that you are excited about, that is a good sign that your plot is working.

If you think about the plot and there is nothing that you are particularly excited about, there is no plot point that you are proud of, or you feel like the plot is sort of interchangeable or that you don’t feel that strongly about it, then you know  that is a good sign the idea, the premise, and the plot combined are not working very well. You don’t have a complete picture. It is not about the idea being bad it is at that point  it is about the execution of the idea. Focus on the craft of writing, focus on understanding plot and scene structure. If the melding of the idea has a good plot with strong characters with good world building when you are writing fiction is what makes the book work. Don’t neglect the plot because the premise alone will not sell your book.

Note: world building for your story, whether your story is set in a real place or an imagined one, you need to establish your characters’ world so that the reader can suspend disbelief and fully engage with the story.

Reasons Readers Don’t Care About Your Characters

Common reasons readers don’t care about your characters and what you can do about it.

Writers often think characters need to be likable, that they need to be nice people or good people. That is not necessarily the case. Readers care about a lot of characters that aren’t necessarily nice people or likable people, so you don’t have to worry about making your character nicer. Make readers more interested and more invested in what happens to your characters because that is what gets readers to keep reading.

You are never going to please everybody with your characters, and that is okay. If, however, you’re getting the same feedback over and over especially if you’re at the querying stage and agents or publishers are telling you they don’t care about your characters, they can’t relate to your characters or they can’t connect to your characters, it could be that you’re not really conveying your characters personalities. Know your characters personality so well that just everything about the character is clear.

One thing that can help a lot is distance from your story.

Another trick that can help is to have somebody else read your first chapter and ask them what they think about the personality of this character, and what are their personality traits. As a little secondary tip, make sure that you’re not showing personality traits that are not indicative of who your character is because you can confuse the reader.

Another reason readers might not connect to your characters is that you’re showing their most negative traits but you’re not explaining why they have those traits. You do want to give some kind of indication of why a character might be acting in a particular way. A hint of why they have the negative trait can help the reader to relate to them and not to see them as negative. It can make them more interesting to read about because then you want to learn more details and more depth about why this character has come to be this way reason.

Another reason that readers might not connect to your characters is that you’re not indicating what the character wants. It is really hard to connect with a character who seems content and happy with life and is there just sailing through. The reader really doesn’t have much incentive to care about them because they seem like they’re doing just fine. Make sure that you’re showing what your character wants or what they want to be different about their life because that’s what will get the reader interested.

Another reason that readers might not connect your character is you’re not introducing a problem. If your character wants something, there needs to be something that stands in their way. A conflict occurs when the character wants something and then something stands in the way of what they want. Make sure that those obstacles are there because readers will want to see how your character overcomes them.

Another reason readers might not connect your character is that your character is a stereotype. For readers to connect or find those characters interesting, the key is just to combine in unexpected or different ways and to not put typical characters into typical scenarios.

Another reason that readers might not connect with your characters, if you’re not putting the reader in the characters shoes. This can be a very easy thing to overlook, but sensory information is really important. Readers want to feel like they are right there next to the character and that can be very difficult to experience if the characters senses are described in a very bland or distant way or if they’re not described at all. The five sense descriptions of your characters help the reader to feel connected and as if they’re there in the character’s body and they can kind of experience things as the character experiences it.