I was so busy finishing up NaNo last week, as well as preparing for the holidays, that I realized I forgot to post any time last week. :/ Sorry about that.
BUT, I've also been gleaning some great writing tips from some awesome novels, so I've got a whole lot of little but very important writing tips I'd like to share with you today! :)
I just finished The Red Pyramid, Riordan's Egyptian series, and since it's set in a first person past, as well as involves a lot of magic/mythology, so not only did it help with just general writing tips, but specifically for my novel. And, by the way, it was a great book that I definitely recommend; just as wonderful as the Percy Jackson series! :)
Anyway, I digress. Here are five little tips I've gleaned from my writing studies this past week:
1. Verbs speak louder than nouns.
What do I mean by this? Well, as I was reading, I began to notice which words I truly noticed or helped described the scene best. I could read "Her face was full of concern and annoyance", but it's not a very powerful way to describe her emotions. Now, if I read "She glared at me with a tense scowl, her fists clenching and unclenching as if she couldn't decide if she should punch me in the face or not", I can much more clearly see and even more so hear the anger and tension in her voice. They make much more powerful sentences, which also leads me to 2...
2. Other forms of verbs are second only to actual verbs in power.
It's rather interesting, but any word that has a verb in it, whether it's used as an adjective or even a noun, tends to be more powerful than other choices. If I say she found an "obvious" error, the meaning is clear enough. But if I say she found a 'glaring error' (note the verb 'glare' used in the adjective), it becomes a much more powerful comparison, and even adds a note of tension to it. Which do you feel more compelled to fix, a simply 'obvious' error, or a 'glaring' one? A 'glaring' error makes me uneasy; it makes me want to run over and fix that right away! 'Obvious' is just kind of 'eh, it's there, you should probably fix it.'
3. Learn when enough is enough.
There's only so much you can do to make your story better, and changing that one sentence again and again isn't going to be the break between 'total flop' and 'best seller'. Yeah, sometimes when you reach the end of what you can do to the story, it just doesn't seem good enough. But that's when you just have to take a leap of faith and put it out there for others to read. If they love it, great! If they don't, well, you know what they say. Try, try again. :)
4. Write, write, write.
The best way to learn is from experience, and it truly doesn't matter if what you write sounds terrible. How else are you supposed to get better? And especially if you're stuck on a scene, try writing it multiple different ways, see if something else works! Change the POV, or the character's reaction, or maybe even the setting! Throw in some distraction, an extra problem, or take some away if you have to many. Experiment!
5. Study your favorite books!!
This is a really big one, and the inspiration for this post, as I mentioned. What makes your favorite books your favorites? The characters? The wonderful descriptions or creative worlds? The creative plots? All of these? Whatever it is, study them. Learn to recognize what they did, and while you shouldn't directly copy them, obviously, you should learn from their techniques and apply them to your own! There are tons of writing books out there, but honestly, the best way to learn is through experience. Read a lot, good and bad books. See what they did right and did wrong, and learn from it! We have literally thousands of years of people's writing triumphs and failures; use these as 'stepping stones' to go even further and higher with your own novel! Besides, reading is so much fun! It's probably the reason (at least part of it) why you became a writer, right?
So, in closing: Write a lot, read a lot. That's the key to great writing. And don't be afraid to try new things or even disregard writing 'rules'! I never see writing advice as 'rules', but simply guidelines. Some work for some people, some don't. Find what works for you and use it. And I wish you all the best of luck in your writing! :)