General Writing Tips

  1. Just get writing and keep it going. Worry about the editing and polishing later.
  2. It’s really critical for an aspiring writer who wants to be published to read what is out there.
  3. Always have a writing implement and some paper to be able to write things down.
  4. Find a location that helps you focus when writing.
  5. Get someone whose judgement you trust to read through your work to see if it makes sense, as our work often makes sense to us, but to someone else it may not.

Writing Tips for Short Stories

Before you start writing think about and plan how you will show the following elements in your story.

  1. Have a clear premise, what is the point of the story?
  2. Location and time, where and when is the story set?
  3. If your story is set in a particular time period ensure that the dialogue and attitudes are consistent with those of that period.
  4. What timeframe does the story occur over? A few hours, a couple of days, a month etc.? How will you show the passage of time?
  5. Who are the main characters?
  6. Spend time developing the characters beforehand.
  7. Think about how and when to reveal information about and insights into your character.
  8. What is the tension/conflict in your story and how is it resolved?
  9. Where does your story end? Does the point that you end it at make sense?
  10. Consider where and how you will use dialogue. Is it just to use up some words, because you should include dialogue, or is it a way of revealing something important about a character?
  11. Think about how you use description. What purpose is it serving? Are you using too little or too much?

Writing Tips for Poetry

  1. Read the poetry of others including ballads sonnets in addition to free verse.
  2. Practise writing in other verse forms. If you are going to break rules, know what you are breaking and why.
  3. Be consistent. Use words that fit the style; e.g. Don’t use academic words in a colloquial piece.
  4. If you are using rhyme, be conscious of employing some that work. Be conscious of half rhymes: e.g. wave and move.
  5. If stuck for ideas, try to look at pictures, read newspaper headlines, put on a piece of music or sit in a park and write your impressions.
  6. Pick a word at random possibly from a book. Write about whatever arises from that word.
  7. Be careful about over-using adjectives and adverbs. Verbs being action words drive poetry.
  8. Don’t settle for the obvious word. Read back over your writing. Can you make your language work harder?
  9. Are you writing for an audience? Which one? If so, do you think your writing is understandable by them?
  10. Be careful to make your tenses consistent. If a piece is in present tense it should remain as such unless you are recalling a former time.
  11. Be careful of using too many words ending in “ing”. “He skips.” may be punchier than “He is skipping”.
  12. Share your work with others and gain feedback.

Writing tips for creative non-fiction.

Before you begin to write …

  • Specify your aim in doing the article.
  • Do the research
  • Make a plan
  • Write the creative non-fiction piece

Then

  • Rewrite/edit/proofread your Then rewrite it. The rewrite it again. And again. (BUT recognise that you will have to decide when your piece is “finished”.
  • Show your writing to someone else. Ask them if it makes sense.

Remember always to think as a reader. (what does a reader neeed to know in order to understand what you’re saying?)

Use plain English .

Use the active voice in your writing.

To write is to talk to strangers.

Proportion  is important, as is order.

Remember to ask, especially when editing, “What is my piece really about?” That way you will get to the heart of your creative non-fiction.