Normally I prefer to write about rare writing techniques and that they go out of what is usually seen out there, advice for people who are already advanced in this field. And well, this is not advanced writing, but something had to do for those looking for something less concrete, more global, those who are starting and do not know how. It's funny because I thought, after writing this, that no one would care about my opinion, but just that day a friend asks me how to start writing.
It must be destiny.
Well, let's go to the subject. I read enough shit and I've seen enough shit. Of course, I have written even more shit (and I have in physical the first draft of my first novel, which attests it), and I think I have developed a very fine sense of smell to detect it. If not, I could not have made a list of the bad practices of the novice writers.
And since everything we write at the beginning is shit, even if we do not realize it, I can detect the novices by their smell. Believe me, I know because I'm still stinking. Although I want to believe that a little less. The corrections are a kind of shower for that smell, and if that is true right now I am spraying myself very hard on all kinds of chemicals.
Maybe it is not the best for this because I have not published anything yet (edit: Now I have published something! And you can read it here for only one euro), however I have been writing for four years and one of my maxims is to go through this way as effectively as possible. So, I want to give novices (and not so newbies) a series of tips born of my experience as a writer, reader and content creator.
Also, they say that opinions are like asses and mine is very beautiful. Or so they say.
0. This does not count for the ten:
Stop relying on self-correction and learn to write well, both grammatically and orthographically. I think it is not necessary to emphasize why this is important for a writer. And he reads a lot, although this is not something that I think it's necessary to say.
1: Accept it. The first thing you write will suck
Do not make excuses. Trust me. This is something that one must accept from the bottom of his heart: The first thing you write will be shit, and even better, this will continue to apply to the first drafts of each novel you write. My advice is that we accept it, because it is not a bad thing. It's natural.
Accepting it is the first step, of course, but this is important because it allows us to change the chip. A writer has to be humble and look at his work as if there was always something wrong, because that way he can not be blinded and think that everything is fine. Because ALWAYS it can be improved, and it has to improve. And you do not have to see it as a bad thing, because all the writers started being shit and every first draft will be shit. It is the law of life. This change of chip has many more utilities that I will tell later.
2: If you're going to start, start with something simple
This is for the most novice. For those who have just embraced this wonderful passion. If you want to start writing a novel, probably that story that has prompted you to write is a big and long project. A trilogy A saga In my specific case, GradesFixer was my starting signal, and I also wanted to write a trilogy. Luckily, I managed to come to my senses, and I started with an independent and unrelated story. And I recommend that your first novel be something like this: Something relatively short and that although you are interested, has no relationship with those big projects that occupy your mind. You have to start with something a little more in the short term.
I hope I do not have to remind you that the first thing you write will be shit. Do you really want to sacrifice that great story that you have idealized in your head? Because if you just started you do not have enough quality to do something worthy with that idea. Because starting with something too long can be very frustrating, since it is difficult to see progress at the beginning. And if ever, in the future, you pick up the first novel from the drawer because you think you can do something decent with it (as it happened to me) you'll be glad it's a short and manageable story (and you can save it from the clutches of the abyss of oblivion ).
In addition, it is possible that many have not decided if you really want to dedicate years to this writing. Unless you are Patrick Rothfuss and you can shoot fourteen years writing and rewriting a single book, I recommend you start with the simple. If you really want to dedicate yourself to this, you will have all the time necessary for that great project once you know how to handle it.
3: Decide your approach.
This advice you have to apply in several points of your relationship with writing. Be very clear why you write and what you want to achieve with it. In my case I want to become a good writer and I want to publish many original stories to share with people, either on my own (as I did with Testosterone) or by traditional publication. I already decided that that is what I want to do with my life, and that has marked both my path as a writer and the way in which I write.
Do you want to become a successful writer? Live from it? Do you write just because you like it and have fun doing it? Is it a hobby without much importance to you? Once you know why you write you can start to follow your own path. For example, if writing is your hobby and you are looking for nothing but fun, you can ignore the previous advice. And probably many of the following.
You must also decide your focus on writing, what is most important to you. Do you want to tell stories? Show characters? Describe environments? Transmit emotions? This is a bit more difficult, but the clearer you have things the easier it will be to put them on paper
And even this can be taken to even simpler levels. What do I want to achieve with this scene that I am writing? What is the important? Ask those two questions when you feel blocked, they help me a lot. It is easier to reach the end of the road if you know exactly what you are looking for.
4: The organization is the key.
Writers who write as the story comes to their head are called compass writers and those who organize and structure what they are going to write are called map writers. Unless you write for fun no matter the final result, or write something non-linear (stories about a character without connection to each other, for example, or stories in which the plot is not important), I recommend you to be map writers.
Many compass writers despise the map because they believe that they restrict their own creativity by having a general outline of what they are going to write. As if the scheme did not give you any freedom and just follow a path already marked. This seems to me a sovereign bullshit. Of course you have freedom! Who do you think has marked that path? In addition, even when you are “writing on rails”, creativity can enter on any side and divert everything you want, and it is not a bad thing because you know exactly how to get back on the road again.
So follow this structure to write a novel: Get the idea, develop the idea, structure it, and then write it down.
The escaleta is a complete summary of the novel by chapters or even by scenes. It is the skeleton of the story and the sustenance of the plot. With a well-defined chart, written before you even start the first paragraph of the book, you can not miss it. Create that runway and do not be afraid to fill it with information, to get to the end. You can leave a little more space to improvise or you can completely close the plot and go on rails, but have at least something to support you, a line to follow. You will get much better wherever you go if you know at least where you want to go.
Also, you will avoid making the mistake of putting too much straw in your texts, a problem that the compass writers accuse themselves.
Of course you can also write seriously with a compass. It is not the most efficient (planning you can skip a whole draft of the process), but many people work better that way. It is not worth saving an eraser if you do not write with a map, so if you can not or do not want to learn how to plan, be sure to debug your writing with a compass. The best authors who use a compass create a first draft following their instinct, review it, and use it as the outline of the rewrite of the draft. It is an equally valid method that gives good results, even if it is more cumbersome than writing with a map.
And good. That has been everything. I repeat that maybe I am not the best example in the world, but all these tips are based on my experience of what works not only in me, but in the vast majority of exemplary writers and writers I know. This is my way of doing things, and the truth, I sincerely believe that it is the correct one, considering the path I have decided to take. Maybe this is not the way many of you are looking for, but it is what I would recommend to any writer who was starting or would like to start.
I hope these tips have helped you. What advice would you give to first-time writers?
Edited: I have been asked to clarify a bit. The first draft of the first novel will usually always be bad, but that does not apply to the following novels. The first draft of the fifth will be better, and the tenth best still. As I have been told, a first draft does not have to be shit, it can be a good text whose revisions complete, and a corrected text 400 times can continue to be bullshit. While it is true that there are writers who only need to make one or two quick revisions to their texts, they are an expert minority. In principle I have not clarified it because I do not think that by the time you reach the fourth or fifth first draft you need advice, but here it is.