Hi, my name is Mark Anthony Tierno, and I’ve written quite a lot of fantasy and SF over the years (my Maldene series alone is 13 books, and 5.2 million words). During that time I have developed my own set of rules for the art of writing, as I did things MY way. I have managed to sum up my experience in this set of Top Ten basic tips for writing a good story (which means, naturally, that I actually have eleven tips). Be it novel or short story, I’ve found over the years that these tips I’ve developed can help a lot. So, without further ado…
Check Mark’s book below.
Maldene: Volume One and Two
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Mark’s Top 10 Writing Tips
1) Turn off the Grammar Checker. Leave on the spell checker, by all means, but for dialogue especially, the grammar checker is useless. After all, not everyone talks as if they just fell out of an Ivy League School. Then if your descriptions tend to be more poetic-inspired like mine are, well again that grammar checker is just going to get in the way.
2) Use a database for keeping track of character details. Keeps them consistent, all the little details right there in front of you. You may not need all the details all the time, but it will keep the picture in your head, and remind you who looks and acts like what.
3) Don’t be afraid to innovate. Remember, the earliest big writers didn’t go to Writing School because they didn’t exist. The basic grammar you learned in Elementary and High School is all you need to know for good writing. “Writing Classes” are merely someone else’s opinion of what might work (and keep in mind, their instructors are teaching… not really earning a living with their own books).
4) Imagination and creativity is a born gift. Except for during the period we call childhood, you can’t learn how to be creative in a class. You can, however, learn to exercise what you were born with just so it doesn’t get rusty.
5) Outline. Outlining, and other prep work, before starting in with the book, will prevent such things as writer’s block and minimize stumbling blocks with plot (I should note that I have never gotten writer’s block, and this is one of the reasons why).
6) Music Helps. No one can write or concentrate in total silence. Break out whatever music works for you and the genre you’re writing and have it playing in the background. For me, I stick to movie soundtracks, but nothing with lyrics I can understand or I might find myself paying more attention to the words in the song instead of the words in my head.
7) If in doubt, say it out loud. Does it sound like something a real person would say and the way he’d say it?
8) Be adaptable. Outline or no, ideas will come up in the middle of a scene, ideas that might make it better, add characters, etc. Still stay within your chosen basic outline, but don’t be afraid to tweak some of the details in mid stream.
9) Break the rules. Acceptable word counts, three-act format, story must have just the single protagonist whose story must follow the same set pattern, whatever the “official” rule is. Break ’em if you need to. The story is the only thing that counts. Remember: the only one looking over your shoulder is you, so be unafraid.
10) Plot or Character. Everything in a story must have something to do with either the plot or character development (both at the same time is the most economical).
And, of course, just to violate my own rule, here is number Eleven out of Ten, but that’s only because this one is so eloquently put (if I do say so myself):
11) One picture may be worth a thousand words, but the job of a good writer is to make one word worth a thousand pictures. (I came up with this one myself, so if you use this quote please credit me).
That’s all for now. Look for me on www.maldene.com. I’ll be the one burning up the keyboard with my next novel.
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