Tuesday’s Tips: So You’re a Beginning Writer?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

Just starting out on the road to become a writer, or even a “Published Author”? The good news is there’s a lot of help out there – you just need to look for it.

Local writers are a good source of help. Check out Utah Childrens Writers (UCW) and/or The Author’s Think Tank where local authors abound.

Janette Rallison once wrote to a worried wanna-be author on the UCW: “I was a stay at home mom too when I started writing professionally. It can be done, and it can be done without a lot of expense.” She recommended starting at the local library.

They usually have a good number of books on various phases of writing. She recommended looking for Gary Provost’s books on writing, or people like Noah Lukeman, Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, Donald Maas, and Scott Bell. Though I don’t normally read horror books, one of my favorites about writing — part how-to and part memoir — is Stephen King’s On Writing. Another is Terry Brooks Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life.

Note quite sure of yourself when it comes to grammar? I’d recommend getting hold of the old standby, Elements of Style by Strunk and White; or see if your local high school still has copies of the old Warriner’s Grammar and Composition text books, or whatever text they may be using. Those will give you a handle on basic style and grammar questions.

When you have something written you’ll be ready for something like Self Editing for the Fiction Writer by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Sometimes, beginner writers have been waiting a long time to start: waiting to finish school, get married, start a career, retire . . . whatever. “Now, I’ve feel I’ve lost the ability,” “the drive,” “the incentive,” and so on.

You may be putting too much pressure on yourself. When I was still in elementary school, I wrote poems all the time. Then I wrote “plays” (today, I’d call them “skits,” but I didn’t know the difference then). Where is that incentive now? Where is the “fun” in doing it? Try to remember what sparked your imagination? I was such a ham, even then, I suspect it was the performing for the class even more than the writing that attracted me. Either way, try to capture that carefree, “If I write it, they’ll come,” or “read it,” or “congratulate me.” You’ve still “got it!”

Think you’re writing sounds trite or old hat or over-used? Everything sounds trite if you’re looking at or coming up with a basic synopsis. Rallison even pointed out that “Anna Karenina is a book about a woman who cheats on her husband and throws herself under a train. Doesn’t sound like masterpiece material does it?”

Brainstorm for ideas, dig up some of the ideas you had way back when and still had that “wild imagination.”

The most important thing is to allow yourself to write that bad first draft. Everybody does that. A good book written by changing that draft until it is no longer “bad”.

Go ahead: START! I dare ya!

Just a few of Rallison’s books:

Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List – IRA Young Adults’ Choices List 2007

It’s a Mall World After All – IRA Young Adults’ Choices List 2008

My Fair Godmother

My Unfair Godmother

See you next time  for Thinkin’ on Thursday!



Filed under Tips for Tuesday

2 responses to “Tuesday’s Tips: So You’re a Beginning Writer?

  1. I loved this article. I related to it and appreciated the book recommendations and resource information. As a beginner at writing, I’m going to take your dare. Thanks!

  2. benschwensch

    Good for you ! ! !

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