Crossroads of Humanity

Dec 31, 2012

Indie Writing Tips

In light of the New Year, I've created a list. After all, today is all about lists, isn't it?  Lists, goals and resolutions help us stay focused throughout the year. Since I'm an Indie writer, here are 10 writing tips for Indies. If you think of yourself as something other than a writer, please substitute where necessary, as many of these tips apply well across fields.

Tip #1: Enjoy what you do. If you don't enjoy every aspect of being a writer, then focus on the parts you do enjoy.

Tip #2: Write often. Write quickly. Get your thoughts down on paper.

Tip #3: Take some time away from a piece before editing it. Prepare yourself to read it with fresh eyes.

Tip #4: Slow down when editing or reviewing your own work. Read it aloud. If you stumble, STOP. Be prepared to read portions line by line and rework it until it reads smoothly.

Tip #5: Be willing to cut, a lot! You've heard the saying, "Less is more." When we write, we write quickly and put all our ideas out there, but all our ideas actually bog down a story. Try to figure out the most succinct way of getting your idea across. Then snip, snip, snip. If that's just too painful, keep the cut parts in a separate document.

Tip #6: Learn your own most common mistakes. These are not the same for everyone. Figure out what you most often do wrong. Pay attention to others; they're the ones who are most likely to notice your most common mistakes. Use the find and search functions to correct your most common mistakes.

Tip #7: Know your strengths. Are you a creative storyteller? Are you a clean writer (editing-wise)? Is formatting your forte? Maybe you're stronger with the visual arts; are you good at creating book trailers and cover art? Find out what you do well.

Tip #8: Use your strengths to help other Indies. We're stronger when we rely on others. The Big Publishing Houses offer help in the way of editing, formatting, distribution, etc. Indies have enough talent to do the same, if we're willing to work together.

Tip #9: Rely on others to strengthen your weaknesses. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You don't have to be an expert in every area to produce a top quality book, but you do have to ask for help and accept advice.

Tip #10: The famous, "Show, don't tell." This is a hard concept to discuss because as writers and storytellers, that's what we do. We tell stories. So here are a few tips I keep in mind when I'm writing. These work for me. Please use them if you think they'll work for you.

  • A. Use the "find" feature to search for every single use of the words "is" and "was" in your document. A few are all right, and sometimes they're necessary, but often I can think of more descriptive words or simply rearrange the sentences to make them sound more interesting. I won't lie, this is time consuming.

  • B. Instead of telling your reader how a character is speaking, show it.

         INSTEAD OF: "You are," I said, angrily.

         TRY THIS:      "You are," I said.
                              "What?" Keira took a step back as if I'd slapped her, and in                               a way, maybe I had.

Well, that's it! My list of 10, brought to you just in time for the New Year.