Some Tips on Writing
Hey all! For a couple of my stops on my virtual book tour, I gave some tips on writing. I talked about how to create believable characters and how to grow as a writer. If you missed those stops, check out the blog post here:
Hi! I’m Elise Nelson, author of Smoke and Mirrors: A Vampire Romance. I just want to share a few writing tips today on how to create believable characters and how to grow as a writer. Before we get into that, though, I’ll share a little bit about myself. I’ve been working as both a writer and an editor for almost a decade now. I’ve published everything from poems and comics to YA fantasy novels and, now, romance. I started publishing my work when I was nineteen and have been slowly growing since then. I started studying writing when I was a tween, but the real work began when I was an adult. My Bachelor of Arts degree was focused in English literature, and my major was curated to the kind of writer I wanted to be, so the classes I studied revolved around creative writing and multimedia storytelling, in addition to all those literature classes.
So, first things first: becoming a good writer takes more than just a knack for putting words together. Anyone can have a talent for writing, but true writers are the ones who put the effort in. It can be intimidating to start a new project, but the key to it is just that: starting. I had published a few books from the time I was nineteen until I was twenty-two. Some of it was good, some of it was okay, but all of it was work I wished I’d tried harder on. I was naïve at the time and thought all I needed was talent. Although much of my work was well-received and highly reviewed, the idea behind it was very wrong, and I knew all along that I could have done better. So, I made a promise to myself that I would always do my best, and thus the real effort and growth began.
One of the best parts of being a writer is growing and becoming a better one. The best tips I can give people are from the words of my high school creative writing teacher: “read, read, read, and write, write, write.” Never underestimate the power in these two things. Reading and truly studying books you enjoy and books in your genre will help you smooth out any areas you’re weak in. Whenever I feel like I’m not doing a good job or know I have areas I need to improve upon, I read books in that genre, look at what those authors are doing, and reflect on how I can hone my skills and strengthen those weak areas.
Regarding writing in an effort to become a good writer: you’ll find that as you write and work on a project, you’ll get into the swing of things and will learn and grow along the way. That happened to me when I was working on Smoke and Mirrors. I trucked along, chapter by chapter, got into the swing of things, really dove deep in my work (while also reading and studying up on how to improve), and by the end I was a better writer than when I’d begun. So, when I went through and edited afterward, there was a lot I changed. Sometimes I wish I could change even more than I did, but that’s the editor and writing perfectionist in me. If I don’t put a project down, I’ll never be done with it.
Now, how do we make characters believable? This all comes down to effort, introspection, and time. If you really want to make your characters believable, you need to flesh out each one, no matter how little “screen/page time” they have in the book. You don’t want to flop with any one or two-dimensional characters. You could have the most amazing plot in the world, but if your characters are cliché, predictable, and one-dimensional, your book will fall flat.
Look at each character like a real person. When you meet people day to day, these people aren’t one-dimensional background characters. Every single one of them is a person with just as much depth as the next. Use that knowledge and perspective when molding your characters. Think of their interests, their fears, their hang-ups, their family lives and childhoods—anything that makes them who they are. Then you can put those between the lines and in their mannerisms, in the way they interact with others, and any other nuanced moments or thoughts they have in the story, even if the actual words or explanations behind those tics and reactions never make it onto the page. The more effort you put into fleshing out your characters and stories, the more believable and all-encompassing your story will become.
In short, becoming a good writer and creating great content all comes down to time and effort. Time and effort to read, write, reflect, and study. But don’t let this take the fun out of things. Let yourself go. You can always let yourself run with a first draft and go back and perfect with the next one. Enjoy the process. Just don’t skimp on the final product.