Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Tips for Writers

Good news. I’m going to take a few minutes to offer some advice for writers. Though I’ve been a writer for quite a few years now, I’ve been a reader even longer. Here are a few random tips I’ve picked up from the many books I’ve read. This certainly isn’t all the things a writer should know or even the most important. It’s only what popped into my head when I decided to write about it.

1) Step one for writing an excellent book is to give your main character an unusual name. This could even be a common name that’s spelled weird. Whatever you choose should be something that makes the reader pause to consider several different pronunciations the first several times it appears. If you want to be helpful, you can have someone in the book eventually explain the pronunciation by saying that it rhymes with or sound like another more common word. But make sure this doesn’t happen until the second half of the book. You want your readers to struggle to correct the mistake in their heads for at least a chapter afterwards.

2) If you are writing a Christian book and want your protagonist to be listening for direction from God, make sure this is found in a still, small voice. Did you catch those words? Still and small. Don’t try to get creative with synonyms or suggest that God might communicate in any other way. And don’t write still and small. The “and” would mess it up. You are only allowed to describe God with a still, small voice.

3) To make a character likable, describe him or her with the word quirky. This doesn’t mean that the character has any unusual habits or mannerisms. In fact, it’s better if he/she doesn’t. This only means that the reader is required to like the character.

4) To really set your book apart, have the characters speak with an unusual dialect. This can’t be mentioned and assumed, it needs to have most English words spelled wrong in order to work. You want your readers to hurt their brains trying to parse the conversations. I l’nie und’stan we reeters d’it. If you understood that, I’ll have to work on my own dialect writing skills.

5) If you are writing something set in the Old West, your hero will need superb tracking skills. Spotting footprints isn’t good enough. Noticing broken brush isn’t good enough. When someone inevitably needs to track the bad guys (kidnapping the heroine usually works), he will need to be able to step outside and say, “There were four of them. Their hideout is three miles due west. One had black teeth, and he’s riding double with Charmayenne on a five-year-old sorrel. Two of the guys are brothers and another was born in Canada. They left two hours, 16 minutes and 12 seconds ago.”

6) It’s always good to find a place in the story to include some incorrect math. You could mention how many years ago something happened in one chapter, then how old a character was at the time in the next chapter. These two numbers cannot add up to within a year of the character’s current age. You don’t want to leave room for off months.

7) I read a lot of love stories so I know the importance of this last one. Make your days insanely long. The minutiae of each day should take at least eight chapters to describe. This way, when the heroine declares her true and lasting love for the hero, the reader will have forgotten that they only met two days ago.