Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WEDNESDAY'S BURNING QUESTION


Ellen Hart writes:

M.D. Lake, author of the Peggy O'Neill mystery series, once began a talk to young writers by giving them what he considered his most important writing tip: "Beware of writers bearing tips." He was being funny, of course. Everyone laughed. But he was also being his usual ironic self. Someone once said--was it Raymond Chandler, Tony Hillerman--that there were three universal rules of writing, but nobody could agree on what they were. We've all learned how to write by writing. And along the way, we've all discovered ideas or habits that help us become better writers.

Thus, the burning question for today is: What is your most valuable writing tip?

13 comments:

Peg Brantley said...

My mind wandered over "get it down" and "in late, out early", but probably the best one for me is bichok.

Butt in chair, hands on keys.

Sheila Lowe said...

Cut as many adverbs ("ly" words) as you can. It will help you avoid the dreaded editorial comment, "it's not strong enough." A lot of adverbs are a sign of lazy writing. Getting rid of them will strengthen your writing. Seriously.

Peg Brantley said...

LOL Sheila. I once heard an editor say he'd pay writers 25 cents for every strong verb they used. But for every adverb, the writer would have to pay him a dollar. Sort of makes you think . . .

Sandy Cody said...

Keep moving forward. It's too easy to keep revising that first chapter. Hold the revisions until you really know your story.

Chris said...

That's right! You have to follow your own instincts so that your own voice can come through.

Marcia Talley said...

Use Find/Replace to locate every "was" or "were." Like the adverbs ("ly" words) they are usually markers for weak verbs, as in "he was walking." Try to replace with strong verbs, eg. "he limped" or "he shuffled."

And BICHOK all the way!

Sheila Connolly said...

Never give up. Never. If you're a writer, you will write. I've heard that from more than one writer.

Robin Burcell said...

Gotta agree with Peg. BICHOK. Big time.

But something else by John Lescroart: A page a day is all it takes, and you'll have a book done in a year.

For me, that was profound. Working full time, three kids, Life... You know how it goes. When it seems overwhelming and I can't imagine how I am going to get a book done, I think of John's words and it puts it all in perspective. All I need is a page a day.

Dana Stabenow said...

Write every day, even if it's only one sentence a day. It'll be one sentence more than you had the day before.

(The quote is from Somerset Maugham.)

Julie Kramer said...

Don't expect writing to come easy, but don't give up easy either.

Cleo Coyle said...

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." ~ Sylvia Plath

Typed in 36 point, on a piece of paper, above my desk.

Sharon Wildwind said...

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
~W. Somerset Maughm, English novelist

Margaret Maron said...

Put an appeal to one of the other four senses (besides sight) on every page.