Writing Tips from the Bards

We asked our Bards if they have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors, and this is what they served us up:


 

7795837Robert Cely: If you really feel called to write, then it’s something you have to stick with. A lot of people I knew wanted to be a writer one day, and I am the only one of them that is still hammering away at it that I know of. It can be frustrating, but the difficulty of breaking through weeds out those who don’t feel deeply about writing. If you love it, don’t worry about success, simply give the world your gift as it was given to you.

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Derek-ElkinsDerek Elkins: Carve out time and write even when you don’t want to write. You know what traps me the most is video games and movies. Okay, or anything. Some days writing is like going to my job. Yeah, I’d rather be at home, but if I don’t work, the bills don’t get paid. Same thing for writing. If I immerse myself in entertainment, or wait for my “muse” to arrive, the writing will just not get done. So, the question remains, do I want to be a writer, or do I want to be a regular guy that wishes he was a writer? The old axiom is true: Writers write, posers pose. Don’t be a poser. Oh, and stick with it in the face of overwhelming odds, and let’s go do some good.


1240470_10201859024058330_395725703_nJamie Greening: Write every day–or at least work on your writing every single day.  If you wait until you feel like it, you will never write well.  Writing is a discipline and it is hard work.  When he was starting a new project, Hemingway tried to write 500 words a day.  I shoot for 1,000, but that is because I have a computer and Hemingway did not.  Then when it is written, spend some part of every day editing, wordsmithing, re-working, and dreaming about the story. Write every day.

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IMG_0020James Yarbrough: As a fellow aspiring author, I'd recommend carving out some time each day to write, even if for a short period. Daily practice will mean an increasing emphasis on quality and development of your own personal style. Even when not formally "writing," observe your surroundings and jot down creative thoughts, turns of phrases, impressions. Wrestle with these jottings, refine them, and store them away for use in your fiction. Also, read widely and study the works of the successful authors of your genre. Ask yourself what makes their stories so effective. Expand your active vocabulary, and have fun with words!

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mug 2Graham Kell: Read, read some more, and when you’re finished, keep reading.

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pa120763-optimized-btoneAnthony Horvath: Genuine artists are always trying to improve their craft. Writers, painters, musicians… and even engineers, software coders… all who create strive to create the best they can. If you are the sort of person who has to write, or they’ll die, I doubt very much you’re not the kind of person who tries to improve their writing. However…

Realistic expectations are critical. Absolutely critical. What is it you want? Do you think that your writing is meaningless unless it finds a publisher? Will you release your stories from the cage of your mind, only to see them confined to your desk drawer until your death, simply because you can’t find a publisher? I think there is a lot of that going on, and often because authors feel like they need to be validated by others. Unfortunately, publishers are producing a lot of crap these days–and here I am referring to the ‘traditional’ publishers–and if one of them picks up your work, that doesn’t at all mean you’ve been validated. I think one of the pitfalls authors fall into is that they seek validation for their work, but not honest and earnest criticism of it–and if a traditional publisher releases the work, obviously the work must be so good it can’t be criticized!

But that kind of attitude wars against the artist’s instinct to improve their craft.

There are oodles of ways to get your content out these days.  If you have to create, you can create, and you don’t need to wait around to be patted on the back. At the same time, this means you can open yourself up to feedback from others, because negative responses don’t necessarily mean the death of your ‘dream.’  For under a thousand dollars, these days, anyone can achieve their ‘dream.’ So, I say focus on producing the best, most satisfying creative piece you can and then let the pieces fall where they may.


 

Chris-Morrow-150x150Chris Morrow: This is the question I am most often asked and it’s a good one. I’ve been given a lot of advice from a lot of different people. The best advice I would give to someone who is just starting out is to write short stories. I know a lot of writers don’t want to hear that because everyone wants to write the next great novel in whatever genre they’re working, but short stories do a lot of things for a writer. It teaches how to pare a story down. Almost every editor or agent I’ve ever talked to tells me the biggest problem most inexperienced writers have is overwriting. You can’t do that with short stories. Writing short stories also allows you to develop your voice and that is really tough to do in the course of a novel. I had been writing short stories for several years before I embarked on my first novel, The Devil’s Choir, and I still found that, as I was writing that one, my voice as the storyteller was changing. I was getting better as a writer (as only practice will do) and I had to complete a very intense rewrite to get a voice that was consistent all the way through. The more stories you write, the more you define who you are as a writer and develop that style and voice. Writing a variety of short stories gives a writer the chance to learn the craft. Another big advantage is that in order for an agent or publisher to take your stuff seriously, it helps to have some writing credits. There are a lot of different places to get short stories published these days. There are print magazines, print anthologies, online magazines, etc. The more you’ve had published, the better chance someone is going to take your novel seriously.


 

thepapeMichael Pape: Obviously, write a lot. Read even more. Pay attention to the words people use. Pay attention to the voice and style people use. Be happy. Find yourself. Find your voice. Take more naps.

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10395191_10152475716122050_2254843321833210940_nJoseph Shaw: Yes ... Work hard. Hard work beats talent nine times out of ten ... Learn the rules. The only way to see the horizon is by standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before you. ... Break the rules. Once you know the rules, it's a lot easier to break them effectively and creatively. ... If you're uncomfortable, you're doing it right. Whatever it is you find yourself not wanting to say is what you should probably say. Say it. Loudly. Often.

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