Forward: Writing Tips and Advice is a compilation of lessons learned as experienced by James Stirling in the early stages of his writing career. His experiences will help you become a better writer. Everyone has their own reason to write and follow their own path toward success. Use lessons learned to avoid some of the mistakes and bumps along the long road to publishing.
by James Stirling
My real name is Leslie Weddell, but I write under the pen name of James Stirling.
Having spent a great deal of my life abroad in the Far East living in Singapore and working in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and other Asian Countries, I used to make notes in diaries of anything that interested me. This all came in handy when I began to get the germ of an idea for my first adventure Novel, 'MacDonald Island'.
Before I actually started writing a full blown Novel, I decided to gain some experience in writing short stories. This is an invaluable way to actually learn how to improve writing skills, for no amount of education in the use of the English Language (or any other language for that matter) will enable you to write with the gift of the great writers if you do not have that one most important requisite of all:
The desire to write!
Having this desire, you then need to study how to write a story.
It is not a big deal! This is how I got started and why I am bringing you my writing tips and advice!
Read, read, and read some more. That is the way forward. Study how good writers compile the many elements needed to write a story that you just can’t put down. The craft they have learned to use in giving you, the reader, a most informative and entertaining story with all the ingredients to keep your attention to the very last word. Sounds easy, right? Well it can be, and it can also be a nightmare if you go about it the wrong way.
So, what is the 'right' way to start writing a good story? What subject do you pick? What genre do you use? For those of you that do not know what 'genre' means, it is the subject (ie. Romance, Crime Thriller, Adventure, kids stories, Comedy, fact based articles, information-and so on...).
Continue reading my writing tips and advice to learn more about yourself and how to become a writer.
The first writing tips and advice explores what you should write about. The 'experts' say in order to start writing you should pick something that you are good at, or interested in. Here is an example: If you are good at making wooden rocking horses you could write about how you make them; the materials you use, your methods and skills, and how others may go about copying you to make a child's rocking horse.
Here is another example: Maybe you are good at collecting stamps, or picture post cards, or cooking, or playing a musical instrument. There are lots of subjects you can choose from, even if you do not have a skill to make something. What did you do for a living? There is a good subject, because you have a ready-made subject you know enough about to write a short story.
Today, most people can afford a simple computer on which one can write a story using 'the word processor' or better known as Word document creation using Microsoft Windows or an Apple Mac. If you are not in a position financially to buy a new laptop, my writing tips and advice to you is to find a re-built machine, for they are cheap enough on eBay and other internet websites and work very well.
Of course, you can still use a pencil and paper if you wish. Lots of the very best writers over the years had no choice, before the coming of the computer. But in this digital age, you will need to get your work into a computer for eventual publishing.
Many rookie writers are shy to write, but if you have that burning desire to get started, simply imagine you are writing a long letter to a friend. Don’t try to use flowery sentences you have read in a book - just like cooking a quick meal - keep it simple! Leave the flowery bits to the established authors for now.
You can spend hours writing, and you are going to make loads of mistakes. This is good! This is how you learn your writing craft. With time, and editing (going over your work and correcting it) you will improve, and gain confidence in yourself.
You do not have to show your work to anyone else if you don't want to. Many beginner writers are afraid of rejection. Poppycock! You write, you read. Keep it to yourself until you are finished and satisfied with your end results. Here, I would point out that no writer is ever entirely satisfied with his/her work and will be tempted to mess about with it, changing this and that. The hardest thing is to resist doing this.
The old saying 'If it is not broken – don't fix it' is so true. Put it away and leave it for a few weeks, start a new writing project, then come back and read your first work again, and you will see it in the way you might like your readers to enjoy it.
It was once said, "If you have no time to read, you have no time or the skills to write."
My writing tips and advice to you is to read as much as you write. I have always been a keen reader of fiction and nonfiction and this has helped me to find my own style of writing. I am interested in adventure thrillers, and to improve my own skills I read Dan Brown, Clive Cussler, Dick Francis and many other great adventure thriller writers, I must read their works several times to appreciate and understand how these authors put their stories together.
So, I wrote lots of short stories. Some are good, some could be improved, and some were downright awful! But this is a learning curve, and it is how I learn to improve my writing skills. Having the desire to write, to express my own feelings and use my imagination in print enables me to write and enjoy what I am doing, good or bad.
You don't have to have a degree in English literature to write. Journalists do this as it is essential to them in their work. But many top writers had an ordinary education. Anyone can write! You don't need a license or any other qualification. All you need is a deep desire and determination to put on paper the ideas you wish to write about.
It helps to be able to spell. It helps to understand and to use good grammar. But this can all be taken in and improved by the writer as he or she gains confidence and experience in molding their craft of writing.
This next writing tips and advice is learning what a novel really is and not to confuse it with a smaller version of story.
Basically, a novel is a long story. If you watch movies, you will notice there is a start, a middle, and an ending. The story line gathers pace as the film progresses, and there is an apex and an ending. The apex can come in the middle of the film or as usually happens, towards the end of the film, to give the story line maximum body, thrills, excitement, drama, and in depth meaning as a climax to the whole film. Some films end in tragedy, some end on a happy note, some are just plain exciting 'riding off into the sunset' sort of thing!
That is how a novel is most likely constructed. As most movies are based on the original book, the author is quite often an adviser on the making of the film, or certainly consulted by screen writers contracted to re-write the story so it is more visual for the big screen.
The main thing to remember when writing any book is that you and you only are the one that is going to read it until such time as you publish. There is nobody looking over your shoulder telling you not to write this or that, for you are the writer. If you don’t want anyone to read your work then that is up to you. You are doing something that you enjoy! You are writing a story, and, it is all your own creation.
I intended initially to have my first novel published by a 'traditional publisher' and sent out over forty copies of my manuscript to various British publishers. It took over three months before I got the last rejection letter back.
As a new writer, I soon found out that rejection is 90 percent the normal, talent being the other 10% and yes, having a very good book agent, and more importantly, writing well about a subject that publishers know will sell and make money for them. After all, they are taking a gamble by laying out a good deal of money to publish and market a new author’s work.
Then I began to think of the time and effort I had put into my first book. So I decided to forget about 'traditional publishers' and try the Internet; and to cut a long story short, I found what I was looking for and self-published with Lulu.com. I do not have an agent or a manager as I know well that my limitations as a writer will never take me to the heights of being a best seller.
However, if that did happen in the future, then of course I would seek out a good agent and publisher. For the time being, I am happy to just do my own thing, enjoy writing, get it to a reasonable standard, and publish it as an e-book on the Internet.
What I want for you to get out of this writing tips and advice subject is that you must be prepared to field rejections if you publish through a conventional publisher. I write because I just love doing it. There is absolutely no reason why you as a writer, should restrict yourself to simple publishing as I do. That is my choice, but you can write, market, and try for wider recognition of your work if you have a mind to go as far as you can.
This next writing tips and advice subject is my own opinion on publishing. There are other companies that do this, but Lulu.com offers an excellent service for rookie (and experienced) writers and it will not break your bank account. Initially, it is free to publish with them. You will be required to market your work yourself, but they can provide experienced and professional editing for you, also marketing and so on, but this will cost you extra, and even that is at very competitive fees.
You are required to make sure your work is absolutely ready to publish. You are responsible for all editing, layout, spelling, grammar, and so on. But Lulu has thought of all this in providing you with several templates that you can download for free to help you set it all up properly.
The lulu software is easy to use and allows for most popular systems such as Microsoft Windows, Mac, Apple, and so on for loading up your book contents. They will, if you need one, supply you with a front and back cover for your book or other publication as they also do digital photography albums too.
There is a choice of book size and even print. They simply store your work on their system and when an order comes in it is automatically sent to the printers, or available for customers to download on e-book with instant payment facilities on Lulu.com, Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and other book online sellers.
The best thing of all, is that because your work is stored in a digital file, you can download it any time to revise, then re-submit to your area on Lulu.
Joining Lulu is doesn't cost anything. Simply go to their site and register, and they will give you your very own area for your publications, including account, tips, advice for new writers, and lots of other helpful perks to aid you in becoming a knowledgeable writer and market your work.
My final writing tips and advice is very important, especially if you publish your books as an eBook. You should have your own website. You can get one free at Webs.com and list your work up there, and with the easy-to-build web development software they supply, you can even link to other websites were readers can buy your published work.
Write short stories and articles for Author-me.com and other writer websites and do let everyone know about your writing on the social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
Finally, you can visit my website to check out all of my novels and short stories.
Read more writing tips and advice like those supplied in 'Writing Tips and Advice for New Writers' by James Stirling by visiting other articles about fiction.