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Writing Tips: The Fundamentals

writing - remembering the basics::

As writers perfect their craft, often they question the progress, or lack of progress, they are making in their careers. Bill Loewenstein creates a list that reminds us of key writing tips. R
emember these when a project is stalled. Dust off a copy of This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff. Visit a paperback book store where an old copy of Edward Morgan Forster's The Longest Journey waits to kick start your next story.

Renew your commitment to the basics with these ten tips. And scroll to the bottom of this page for tips on writing a query letter, a professional method for literary permissions, and finding literary agents.
Dip your pen into our Writing Tips

The Fundamentals - Ten Tips
By Bill Loewenstein

  1. Read. Read fiction. Read non-fiction. Try to understand why you like certain writers.

    Read with an eye to analyze how different writers write. Don't be afraid to try different writing styles as a way of developing your own style.

  2. Write. Write letters to friends. Write letters to the editor. Keep a journal. Write just for the practice of writing. You don't have to write the great American novel as your first effort. Write descriptions of people, places and things. Write about emotions.

    Use short essays to sketch something that has caught your attention. Write something every day. If you want to be a writer, then start writing.
  3. Practice writing poetry. Poetry captures moods, places, people in the briefest description, but when chosen with care, those words blossom forth with more than is on the page.
  4. Take a writing class. Check out your local community college, or go on-line to sign up for a distance learning writing course. Get feedback from others on your writing.
  5. Join a writers' group. Groups may be listed at a local bookstore, library, or on-line. Get to know people who enjoy writing and learn from them.
  6. Read books and magazines on writing. Check these out at your local library or bookstore. Educate yourself on different styles of writing.
  7. Revise, revise, revise. Rework the writing that you have done in the past to see if you can make it better. Review what you have written a month, or a year ago, and see if your writing is improving. Use past writing as a way to continue a story.
  8. Don't get writer's block. Writer's block means that you are waiting for perfection to appear on your page. It's a long wait. Start with less than perfection just to get something on the page. Then try to make it better.
  9. Get published. Check out the books available to direct you to potential publishers of your writing. Many small publishers of fiction or poetry may pay in copies of magazines or books, but it is still your writing being published. Many non-fiction magazines may pay more, but require a series of queries prior to accepting your story proposal.

    Get familiar with the requirements of each publisher. Try to find ways to rewrite non-fiction that will play to the interests of different publications.

    One story rewritten to serve the interests of different magazines thus becomes more profitable if you are hoping to make a living, either part-time or full-time, from your writing.
  10. Persevere. Don't give up. Most writers are not successful at first in selling their work. It takes time.

    Although it is art, it is still work. If what you write provides you with some satisfaction, or allows you the ability to express yourself in ways that allow you to grow - as an individual, and as a writer - then your time has been well spent.

For additional reading and to continue improving your writing, the editors suggest: Peter Barry's "Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory" and "Perrine's Sound and Sense" edited by Thomas Arp. Also read "Spreading the Word: Editors on Poetry, compiled by Stephen Corey and Warren Slesinger.

Bill Loewenstein teaches creative writing in South Carolina and advises broadcast and print journalism students on writing, reporting, and the craft of storytelling.

More Writing Tips

:: Finding a literary agent
:: Writing the Cover Letter
:: Promoting your book
:: Attending a writing conference
:: Obtaining LitPermits


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