WANT TO BE A WRITER?

Writing is fun. If you want to make a career of it, this is what you need to do:

  • Read a lot.
  • Write whenever you can
  • Start a journal of ideas and happenings.
  • Carry a notebook with you so you can write down interesting things, ideas and descriptions of people you meet.
  • Decide what sort of writer you are – if you like reading a certain kind of writing, (for example, sports pieces or vampire novels) then this is probably the sort of writer you will turn out to be.
  • Volunteer to write articles and fiction pieces for local community or club newsletters.
  • Join a writer’s group, or start one of your own.

Letters to Leonardo took more than ten years to write

LOOK AT STORIES AND ARTICLES IN MAGAZINES YOU READ

  • How long are they? (How many words)
  • What sort of style are they written in…lots of facts, or do people give their opinions.
  • What sort of topics are in the magazine?
  • Who are the types of people that are likely to read this kind of magazine?

TYPES OF CAREERS IN WRITING

  • Journalist (includes newspaper, radio and tv)
  • Copy writer (writes advertisements for newspaper, radio and tv)
  • Screen writer (writes movies)
  • Playwright (writes plays)
  • Corporate Writer – writes newsletters and things for businesses.
  • Technical Writer – writes instructions, computer manuals; technical stuff.
  • Author – writes fiction and non-fiction books for kids.
  • Performance writer – writes things they perform themselves
  • Comedy writer – could write for yourself or for television and film
  • Internet writer – work on websites etc for businesses and organisations.

SOME USEFUL WEB SITES FOR YOUNG WRITERS

WHAT YOU NEED TO BE A WRITER

To be a writer takes more than talent. You will also need to persist, keep writing, keep trying to get your work published; if you love your story don’t give up until you find a publisher who loves it too.

FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

If you are submitting for a competition or to a publisher, make sure you read the submission guidelines first (usually available on the publisher/competition website)

General guideline to follow are:

  • 2 spaces between each line
  • Times or other easy to read font – 12 pt
  • 3 cm margins all the way around
  • pages numbered with title of piece included as well
  • Clean white paper (no tomato sauce or coke stains)

Once your work is ready to submit:

Read it out aloud to yourself – this will help you pick up some mistakes that you haven’t noticed. If spelling isn’t your strong point, make sure a good speller has looked over your work and helped you get rid of any mistakes.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the piece make sense?
  • Is the piece attention grabbing?
  • Does the piece have an original slant, idea or angle?

BUILD A PORTFOLIO

A portfolio is a folder of things that you have written and had published. Published work will add to your resume and help you get into writing courses and writing jobs.

To build up your published work, you might have to volunteer first; write for local newsletters. You could even volunteer to write ads or your community radio station. The more published work you have to show people, the better.

Most importantly, enjoy your writing and persist with it. Most writers don’t get published the first time they try, but many go on to make it their career.

My novel, Letters to Leonardo took more than ten years to write. In that time, I did more than 30 drafts and around 1,000,000 words. But when I held the published book in my hand for the first time, I knew that every hour I’d spent on it (around 1800) had been worth the effort.

WRITING TIPS

STORY BEGINNINGS

The start of your story is very important. From the moment the reader turns the first page, your book needs to hook them in straight away….your first words should make the reader want to keep reading. Your beginning needs to put questions in the readers mind that are answered throughout the book.

Look at some books that you have enjoyed and see how the authors have started their stories. This will give you some ideas about how to hook your readers in.

SENTENCES

It’s important for your sentences to begin and end in the right place. If they don’t, your writing won’t make sense to the reader.

TIPS FOR WRITING SENTENCES

  • Read your work out aloud. If you pause, this is where the sentence should finish and a new one should start.
  • Check to see that every sentence has a subject (person, animal, object or thing that the sentence is about) and a verb (action word eg ran, went, ate etc).

TENSE OR POINT OF VIEW

You need to decide if you are writing your story about something that has already happened (past tense; – was, had, went etc) or something that is happening now (present tense; – is have, go).

It is really important that your tense stays the same all the way through your story – otherwise it will be confusing for your reader.

‘SHOW’ DON’T ‘TELL’

Instead of writing about a conversation that your character overheard, show the conversation; show who said, what.

Instead of writing that, Yesterday, John fell down a rabbit hole; describe him falling down the rabbit hole.

ONLY USE WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO THE STORY

If your character had a banana for breakfast, the reader doesn’t need to know this…UNLESS, the banana is important to the story eg, it has been illegally smuggled, there was a diamond hidden in the banana.

PLOTTING

Before you start, it’s important to know where your story is going, otherwise it will wander out of control

Some people plot out every move; other people see where their character takes them. It’s up to you, how you plot, but you should have some idea of how your story will end.

Your story should contain a series of events that add more and more tension, moving towards the high point (which is called the climax), this is where everything comes to ‘a head’. This is the point at which things are resolved and the loose ends are tied up.

EDITING

Before you send your story off, get other people to read it and check for mistakes, typos etc. Ask them if your story made sense to them…if it engaged them and kept them wanting to know what happened next.

GETTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT ASSESSED

At the moment I’m not taking on any new manuscript assessments, but you can get one done by children’s author Sally Odgers who has had more than 200 books published.

Your local writer’s centre will also have information about where you can get your work assessed.

The Australian Writer’s Marketplace is another source of information for assessors and writing groups in your state/area. It also has lots of other great information about publishers and where you can get your work published.

And of course there are the Tuesday Writing Tips here at this blog.

Good luck with your writing.

Dee

EDITING CHECKLIST –  IS YOUR STORY THE BEST IT CAN BE?

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

These are some of the things that make up a good story.

  1. A beginning that hooks the reader in
  2. A story that sounds good when you read it out loud
  3. A story where everything makes sense
  4. A story that has no spelling mistakes
  5. An exciting plot that keeps the reader reading and brings the story to a believable satisfying conclusion
  6. A main character that readers will care about – with good qualities and flaws
  7. A plot that follows a logical sequence of events
  8. A plot where the reader understands what’s happening in the story
  9. A plot with a beginning, high point and conclusion.
  10. Consistent tense – a story that doesn’t confuse readers by flitting around between the past the present and the future
  11. A story that uses easy to understand and interesting language
  12. A story that doesn’t have a lot of repetitive words
  13. A setting that is interesting, well described and relevant to the story
  14. Dialogue that is believable, shows character and moves the story along

17 thoughts on “WANT TO BE A WRITER?

  1. I have found this information very useful and will print it off and keep on my wall, so that I can use it to check all my writing. Thank you

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  4. Dee, I was directed to your website by Karen Tyrrell – WOW. What a fantastic blog/resource/encouragement/information for all us wannabe writers! Thank you for doing what you do and saying it all in such easy to understand language 🙂 I am fast discovering that the world of publishers etc is a strange and often incomprehensible one, so will definitely be back here to help me sort it all out when the time comes to start the ‘getting published’ phase. Thank you!

  5. Pingback: Wendy Fitzgerald - Creative Writer, Tutor, Travel Writercompetitions and websites « Wendy Fitzgerald

  6. Thanks Fandina72:)

    Sorry it has taken me so long to reply but for some reason I only get notifications of comments on posts, not on pages.

    It is definitely a strange world in which we work…but it’s fun too:)

    I hope your writing is going well.

    Dee:)

  7. Hi, I want to write stories of mysteries and romance. How do I go abt it? Can you let me know the criteria please.

  8. Hi Marsha,

    This question doesn’t have a short answer, but here are a couple of links to some articles you might find helpful http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/genrefiction/tp/mysteryrules.htm
    http://genre.omnimystery.com/mystery-genre.html
    http://www.martindalemysteries.com/pages/howto.html
    http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/writing-a-romance-novel-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html

    I hope you find these helpful. Good luck with your writing. You can also look at romance and mystery books you like, find out who publishes them and look on their website. Sometimes they will have information about this kind of thing or the author might have information on their website about how they wrote the book.

    Good luck and happy writing:)

    Dee
    http://www.harlequin.com/store.html?cid=535

  9. Thank you so much for this awe-inspiring post. I have been a freelance writer here in Vietnam. However, what I aim to achieve is the position of a writer who can express herself in English. I find some difference between the interest in writing of Vietnamese and other countries. Quite fun and worth to trigger or dig more to get deep knowledge. My English is not good as it should be. However, I will do my best. Thank you so much. Hope that someday, I can call myself a writer 🙂

  10. Great post. Writing is not an easy job. You’re absolutely right. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    If you want to become a writer, join Life of Writers today! As we are created it online, so start writing your own and we are with you. For more details, please browse our website – http://www.lifeofwriters.com

  11. Hello. Great work and outline for writers. It’s really helpful. I am hoping to become an author one day, but having a few difficulties to how/where to start? How to I make my writing for the world to see? Do you have any advice? 🙂

  12. Hi Mahwash,

    Thanks for your comment.

    There’s not really a straightforward answer to your question unfortunately. If you attend writing classes and conferences and read a lot of books on writing, these are all good ways to become a better writer and increase your chances of getting published.

    Good luck 🙂

    Dee

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