Ten Tips for Becoming a Better Writer
Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. And for inviting me back. I take that as a compliment. I’m not sure I can come up with ten, but I’ll give it a whirl.
1. Read. Read a lot. Not just in the genre you want to write in, but in other genres as well. Learn to recognize why you like (or don’t like) a particular book. Be able to pick out plot threads, tension, pacing, and character development. If you can’t see them in other people’s writing, you won’t be able to work those things into your own, either.
2. Write every day. Even if it’s only a few hundred words. At the beginning, don’t worry about aiming for whole stories. Write scenes. Learn to work with words on your screen.
3. Consider writers’ software like Scrivener. I don’t use it, but I know lots of writers who swear by it. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but what I use in lieu of Scrivener-type software is storyboards and three-ring binders. It’s how I keep my characters and my words and the mythologies in my different books straight. I think you need something. Otherwise, when you go through a story for first edits, you find embarrassing things like your characters’ names having changed. Or their hair color.
4. Find a good critique group. Or at least a couple of critique partners. You need other sets of eyes to go over your writing and tell you where the plot holes are, or why a particular character doesn’t work. We just can’t do that for ourselves. Also, your partner, mother, BFF, etc. can’t do that for you, either. It won’t help you to have someone gush over your work. Even NYT bestselling writers have a phalanx of people looking over their shoulders, starting with their literary agents.
5. Get good and familiar with grammar. They don’t teach it in school like they did when I went an embarrassingly long time ago. Do any of the rest of you remember diagramming sentences? Can you list the various parts of speech? Of a sentence? Do you know why we avoid adverbs and only rarely begin sentences with gerunds? If you know all that stuff, great. Some of it still gives me fits, like lie versus lay. I still have to think that one through. Or farther versus further.
6. A bit more on #5. Do not rely on Word’s grammar checker. It’s wrong nearly as frequently as it’s correct.
7. Develop a thick skin. Writing is a skill, much like any other. It takes time and dedication to hone your craft. I’ve been grateful for every single review I’ve gotten, even the bad ones, because they’ve highlighted areas I need to focus on.
8. It takes many elements to create a great story. You need three dimensional character who blaze off the page. You need a plot with enough interwoven threads to hold a reader’s interest. Tension and pacing move the plot forward. None of us are born knowing how to do all those things. Characters were always easy for me. I had to teach myself plotting, pacing, and holding tension.
9. Learn to proof your work. It’s a skill. Your chances of publication will improve dramatically if your work is close to error-free.
10. Don’t give up. If you want something, work for it. We don’t truly appreciate what comes to us too easily.
Well, hey, I got to ten! Good thing you didn’t ask for eleven. Guess I’ll give myself an atta girl. What about the rest of you? Did I miss something you think is critical? Love to have you weigh in.
A modern day psychiatrist and a dragon shifter stranded in time can’t escape their destiny, no matter how unlikely it seems.
In a cave deep beneath Inverness, a dragon shifter stirs and wakens. The cave is the same and his hoard intact, yet Lachlan senses something amiss. Taking his human form, he ventures above ground with ancient memories flooding him. But nothing is the same. His castle has been replaced by ungainly row houses. Men aren’t wearing plaids and women scarcely wear anything at all.In Inverness for a year on a psychiatry fellowship, Dr. Maggie Hibbins watches an oddly dressed man pick his way out of a heather and gorse thicket. Even though it runs counter to her better judgment, she teases him about his strange attire. He looks so lost—and so unbelievably handsome —she takes him to a pub for a meal, to a barbershop, and then home. Along the way the hard-to-accept truth sinks in: he has to be a refugee from another era.Never a risk-taker, Maggie’s carefully constructed life is about to change forever. Swept up in an ancient prophecy that links her to Lachlan and his dragon, she must push the edges of the impossible to save both the present and her heart.
About the Author
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Several paranormal romance novellas are available in e-format. Three novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search, and Psyche's Promise are small press publications available in e-format and paperback. Look for two more urban fantasy novels coming this summer and fall: Fortune’s Scion and Earth’s Requiem.
A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.