Share With Us What's Improved Your Writing

I thought this might be a fun topic :) I have been working on editing and re-editing the beginning of my serial most of the past week, to give it the right feel and flow. As I go I've noticed (and run across, and been kindly advised) of some little rules that have really helped. I'd like to share them, and hear what pieces of wisdom helped you improve your writing.

The first for me was a wonderful trick of making long sentences make sense. As long as the subject and the verb are at the beginning of the sentence, it remains readable even despite further prodigious verbiage. It is even sort of magical how well it works to keep the eye from wandering off mid-sentence in confusion. Go ahead and try it if you aren't familiar with it.

The second was so stupidly simple that I couldn't believe I'd never realized it before a friend with an English degree pointed it out. I was finding that sentences together in paragraphs were losing the eye when they were fine individually. The paragraphs weren't particularly long, so I was at a loss. It turns out that the eye (and by extension the poor reader's long-suffering brain) likes to see long sentences surrounded by short sentences. Similarly, it is easy to read long words surrounded by short words.

So what little tips and rules have you found that improved your writing?

Here's one that I use:

Try not to change the subject within a paragraph. It tends to lose you focus, like a camera trying to take a picture of too many different objects at once. Depending on the length of the paragraph, you can change subject two or three times and still be understandable, but focussed paragraphs with only one or two subjects will always feel snappier and easier to read.



~ Don't confuse writing with editing. When writing don't stop to edit something, KEEP THAT CRAZY TRAIN RUNNING. The editing comes later.

~ Write down every little idea as soon as it comes to you. Don't leave it until a more appropriate time because YOU WILL FORGET IT.

~ Write somewhere away from distracts. THIS INCLUDES THE INTERNET. Shut yourself in an empty room. If you use a laptop then disable its internet connection. If you can't escape that, JUST WRITE IN A BLOODY BOOK!

As an addendum to Dary's first bit there, pausing to edit writing in progress is not a crime. Those of us with slightly OCD tendencies about writing may find it more difficult to carry on unless everything is just so than by trying to just push ahead. I know I do!

The other two bits are solid.



-If what I write is inspired by something, I'll stay away from mimicking it. Otherwise, it will turn into fan fiction.

-Always organize your overall plot before you start writing anything, even if you are expecting a major plot change. That will prevent writer's block. For better results, make a detailed plot.

-Use music to aid in imagining the scenes. I only use this in battle scenes because the reverse effect will happen when I write other scenes.

-Get inspiration everywhere. I tend to use RPGs to do so before, but now I get it from other's web fiction, movies and animes as well.

One of the interesting things about writing is how sometimes completely opposite things - editing during writing, not editing during writing - can sometimes work just fine for different writers.

These are great, I'd love to see some more :)

What's getting better about my writing.


It just keeps getting more and mroe fabulous all the time, baby.

and the more you type the better you get too! LOL

Murazrai--About being inspired by stuff.

This link has been probably one of the most helpful of my writing career.

How to Legally and Ethically Steal Ideas

Holly Lisle is awesome. (Though I don't actually read her books, just her advice to writers.)

All RIGHT! Ethical theft! I'm all over it

VJ, that's an awesome site, I've been enjoying it. Thank you :)

Yay! You're welcome. :)

Strangely enough, the best thing that has happened to my writing is that I quitted trying to write in French and started to do it in English...

French's my mother tongue. So when I wrote in French I had a tendency to overdo it. Now that I've adopted English as my writing language I keep things simple and it's better and less uneven.

Of course, I make a terrible mix of British and American English and I probably use the wrong word from time to time. But no one has dared to complain so far. xD

And then, another thing that improves writing (for everyone, I believe) is reading.

I like my American English spiced with the British variety, to be honest :)

It's a neat thought, about switching languages forcing you to stick to basics. I know 'not overdoing it' is common advice for writers, and I've been trying hard to hew to it lately. If only I had another language that I knew well enough to give your method a try!

Well, to be perfectly honest, the choice of English was also a pragmatic decision. There are far more potential readers who read English than French. So it seemed like the sensible thing to do. ;)

There's a Charlie Rose interview with Quentin Tarantino that helped me a lot:

Also, the director's commentary track on the "Say Anything" DVD was very helpful for my writing.