Writings of Kevin McArthur

Subtitle

                                         Tips for Novice Fiction Writers

 

 In February, 2012, I published Tips for Novice Fiction Writers on the internet. Over the years I've compiled an abundance of notes and tips from other writers, from how to write, what to write, even where to write.

   As I publish more books, I'm asked for advice from other aspiring authors to make their books better. I'm more than happy to spend the time helping them improve their craft, as long as they wish to learn. As a result, I've compiled most of the information I've learned into an easy to read, short book. While this book is not intended to be a "be all end all" authority on writing, it gives a new writer somewhere to begin. I still recommend obtaining a style guide of your preference, however those books contain so much information they are often overwhelming.  This book will get you started on some simple basic steps to improve your writing. The book includes some of my favorite tips for editing, which can be grueling work, but pays off many times over. Included are also considerations when choosing character names and even a book title. The text discusses the importance of strong characters and how to write them. You'll also learn how to use weather as an effective writing tool.

 I hope you enjoy this book! 

 

You will find Tips for Novice Fiction Writers at Smashwords.com , Amazon.com and most online bookstores.

 

                      So you want to be a writer?

 

     When people discover that I’m a writer, rather than ask about my work, the most common response is, “I’ve always wanted to write. I have an idea that would make an interesting book,” or something to that effect.

     Indeed, everyone has a story to tell. Sadly, few will take the time to write that story. What is it though about the writing profession that draws people? Writing is simple, after all, most everyone writes. Yet, what other profession draws such a response?

     Obviously, there are various degrees of writing. The title “writer” or “author” is flattering, I’ll admit. Though lately, I’ve begun reading work by author and poet laureate Jim Harrison, author of “Legends of the Fall,” and numerous other books. I certainly wouldn’t hold a candle to this wordsmith.

     Writers often mention, “We write because we must.” Akin to addiction, I suppose, in the same way as others would not dream of beginning a day without coffee, or perhaps an exercise routine, a writer is discouraged if, at the end of the day, they haven’t written. To constrain creative energy violates universal laws.

     For many, writing is an obsession. Characters and subjects will often dominate thoughts, even when away from the typewriter, notepad, or keyboard, and will be terribly distracting. To squelch the distraction, when a point is born in the mind, the writer ‘must’ write it down. This often quiets the ‘voices’, at least for a time. Then, we begin to build on that idea, and again, record thoughts. We’ll sometimes seem detached from conversation, perhaps staring blankly with glassy eyes and furrowed brow. Don’t bother waiting for an intelligent addition to the discussion. We have none.

     The writer’s partner must be patient, lest the relationship suffer. A non-writing partner may not comprehend the obsession to write and should be willing to engage in a suitable hobby. Writing with young children in the home is daunting if not impossible.

     Writing literature is a craft requiring practice, study, and most importantly patience. To be a writer demands countless hours in solitude. Contrary to popular opinion, there is nothing ‘sexy’ about writing. Writing is frustrating, daunting, at times overwhelming, and nearly always fulfilling. Determination, patience, and persistence are the writer’s virtues. Should you lack any of these skills, you will learn them or surrender. I believe Ernest Hemingway captured the true nature of writing when he said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Of course, Hemingway also said, “Write drunk. Edit sober.”

     We write in pursuit of words born somewhere outside of us. A phrase or sentence that crosses the line from recycled thinking to original thought. Many times, magic surfaces during editing. Editing is yet another tool from the writer’s pallet. If writing is a craft, editing transforms words into art. Hemingway once noted he recognized good writing because it cannot be edited. A professional editor, not the writer, best performs proper editing. A skilled editor sees beyond the writer’s vision, far from the writer’s ego, to allow the work to stand on its own.

     Aside from the pitfalls, if you have a story to tell, I encourage you to write. If you wish to pursue a writing career, think long and hard before diving in. Whether you choose to write a simple article, a short story, a biography, or a full-length novel, you will be better for the experience.

                            Coming soon, if you’re undaunted,

“Writing Tips.”

 

                                         Writing Tips

 

     When I began compiling writing tips for this page, I found I had accumulated so much information I might as well write a  book on writing! Those books have been written, so I offer, what in my opinion are the ten most important writing tips in order of importance.   For brevity, I offer little explanation for the tip. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me through Facebook, email or leave a comment in the Guestbook with your email address and I will be happy to provide further information if requested.

 

1.       Write. None of the following tips will be helpful if you haven’t written anything.  Commit to writing 2000 words per day, every day. Write with reckless abandon. Don’t worry about “good.” Just write. Good writing comes later.

2.       Learn to write well. This comes through the knowing your word processor and studying writing.

3.       Purchase a good writing guide. I suggest “The Elements of Style” by Stunk and White. This book is widely accepted as being the “go to” guide for writing. The book is inexpensive (less than $10 on Amazon.com, and contains a wealth of information in a short 105 pages.

4.       Read a lot! Study the genre you intend to write through reading books of that genre by those who write best.

5.       Be open to learning your craft. Many beginning writers when criticized claim, “That’s just my style.” Learn the proper way to write before choosing what you can, and cannot get away with in choosing your style. Write in a style that appeals to the reader, not to satisfy your own ego. This may sound harsh, it shouldn’t. We’ve all done it.

6.       Be a good storyteller. A good story will compensate for less than stellar writing. Make the story believable.

7.       Research. Spend the time to visit the places you are writing about or research those places online until you feel you have been there.

8.       Don’t tell, show. None of us likes to be told anything. Show me what it is the character feels, sees, tastes, or touches. I must understand why the character loves another character (or object).

9.       Never stop writing at the end of anything. Don’t end with a chapter, paragraph, or sentence. Stop mid-word. This makes it much easier to pickup writing in the middle of a thought, rather than going back and reading what you’ve written. Don’t do this!  You waste valuable writing time and you taint your ‘fresh mind’ with the tired thoughts you finished with.

10.   Learn to edit well.  Writing is fun. Editing is work. However good editing transforms your writing to stand on its own. I will add editing tips to this page in the future.

 

And if you STILL want to write seriously, please join us in the Forums for the "Collective Writing Project!" 

 

 Find Tips for Novice Fiction Writers at Smashwords.com , Amazon.com and most online bookstores. (While I generally don't favor one site over another, I'll suggest Smashwords in particular on this one, since, once you buy, you have access to ALL formats, Nook, Kindle, etc...and for your computer. Make certain to download the .PDF format so that you can print it and keep it as a reference while writing.)