Guest Post: Writing Professionally

Monday, July 5

Hello, friends. It's Olive Tree, from HorseFeathers.
Let's see... I'm a pretty whimsical person, and I guess I write to share my crazy thoughts with others. A lot of the time I'll have a very vivid dream and turn it into a story or incorporate it into whatever story I am working on at the moment...I prefer to write fantasy, because all the rules are up to me — plus, describing new worlds and species gives me special joy. My current novel,...is nearly finished...I'm very excited about getting it published... I jotted down the first few sentences over three years ago! However, I actually published my first book this February.


One of the biggest problems I run into personally and that I see in other peoples' work is that it doesn't look professional. At all. This bugs the bejeezes out of me because I know that they have hopes to be published, but there's no chance when their work looks like that. So here's a few tips to make your writing sound like it was done by a professional author.

1: Make it proper

Improper spelling, grammar, and punctuation set off red flags everywhere! Spelling is something you can't skimp on when you want your writing to sound the best. Turn on spell check. Please. Punctuation is in the same boat... don't use more than one ! or ?, no more than three ..., use the proper "", and never use ?! or any other such combination. Learn how to use : , ; , and —. Indent and form a new paragraph when someone speaks. Instead of ALL CAPS, make it in italics. As for grammar, I suggest everybody read the Elements of Style. It's a short but very helpful book that will teach you how to make your writing look good. Of course, proper grammar all. the. time. is a big no-no as well... sentence fragments, run-ons, or dialect that may use improper grammar are all hugely important to give your book a personality and a style. But if you constantly make mistakes (especially in 3rd person) your writing will sound young and unprofessional.
Basically, read your favorite books (preferably not YA/children's books) and notice how the author uses the tactics above.

2: Make it plausible

If your villain is bad to the bone, or your hero has no flaws, your book will be really, really boring. Instead, give your villain an awful past, or your main character a violent streak they cannot control or some sort of internal struggle.
Also, if you use magic in your book, don't make everything ever-so-easy. You can't have your character sitting on the couch getting fat while his/her magic saves the world, with zero effort from the character.

3: Review

Whoops... suddenly your character has blond hair... wasn't it red in the beginning of the story? Or perhaps a minor character has switched names or genders without your noticing. And whatever happened to your main character's faithful dog? He seems to have disappeared.
If your work is inconsistent, even in the minor details, your book will die a very slow and painful death. Solution? Review! Either go back and read from the top every time before you begin working on it, or (if that takes several hours since your book is long, like me) every so often read the whole thing with a critical eye. Which brings me to number four...

4: Be your own critic

Okay everyone... ditch your ego and pretend you are a critic with a razor-sharp pen. Find any imperfections? Of course you did. Now go back to your usual self and fix what the "critic" found wrong or weak. I can't stress how important this is. Similarly,

5: Get a pre-editor

If you're not quite ready for a professional editor, get your most brutally honest friend, teacher, or family friend to read your story and give you honest-to-goodness feedback. Tell them to be merciless. Obviously a background in writing or publishing is preferred.
They might come back and tell you that your book is the worst they've ever read. Be ready for this. Authors must have a thick skin.
(I am always willing to read your work and give you feedback. Be warned... I'm one of those brutally-honest types.)

6: Variety and the over-use of it

If you're using "said" over and over, that's a problem. If you're repeating a name, that is a huuuge problem. Try using more descriptive words: "mumbled" or "cried"; "the girl" or "his friend".
But be careful! Too much variety will leave the reader confused and your work too wordy. Don't fall into the sandpit of variety. Teeter on the edge instead. It's a careful balance, one you have to find for yourself.

7: Have fun!

Add some humor. Make something silly. Go ahead, model a character after yourself, flaws and all. It's your book, and chances are that if you try to contain your style too much it won't sell, because it will sound like every other teen author trying to realize a foggy dream of authorship.

Good luck, and happy writing!
-Olive Tree

[If you would like to submit a guest post, e-mail me, Story Weaver, at writersnse@gmail.com]

3 comment(s):

Anonymous,  Saturday, January 04, 2014  

this is a really interesting post, I liked it

Portia

asim jofa Friday, September 30, 2016  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marion Palmer Tuesday, October 04, 2016  

Dialogue delivery is not a child's play and we can learn here about balancing it. I would like to hire top paper writing services to write an article of dialogues in action scene and i will add this post also there.

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