15 Writing Tips for Budding Writers – Miracle Nwokedi

A writing style is a unique selling point for every author. As many beginners strive to have a mastery of theirs, they are tasked with the duty of knowing what works and what does not. Aside from observing the rules of punctuation, grammar, spellings and sentence construction, the truth is that there are no rules to writing. Whatever allows the smooth flow of a writer’s thoughts is only encouraged.

Here are a few guidelines for beginners or aspiring writers. Most of them, I have learnt from editing a few works.

Use simple language. Most times, a description that paints a clear picture of what the narrator is trying to express is better used than the use of an ambiguous word.
Beware of clichés. Some expressions have become overly used that they could turn an avid reader off. A writer who is not also an avid reader can be limited in diction. Reading as a mental exercise helps to build better choice of words.

Conjunctions can make or mar a sentence. The fact that conjunctions help in the flow of a sentence is true. The fact that they also add an effect cannot be overemphasised.

However, using them too frequently is not encouraged as they can appear to be an escape route for poor writing. Imagine listening to someone tell a story with too many ‘ands’ and ‘buts’.

Your Characters are living beings in a book. When describing a character or a place, the beauty often comes with weaving in the adjectives that describe them into the body of the work. Pouring everything in the first few lines that introduces an object (character) is somewhat unstylish and looks forced upon the reader. The meeting between the reader and the characters in a story should flow naturally. Just the way one gets to meet people in real life events. One doesn’t get to know everything about a person in one date or outing.

Show the reader. There should be more showing than telling in a writing, especially a work of fiction. This way, it creates a mental image (imagery) in the minds of the readers. They can smell, feel, hear, taste and see everything in a scene from the narrator’s point of view, their sense organs are engaged this way. Although in flashbacks and reminiscences, a great deal of beautiful telling would not be bad. Give your characters some space and let them breathe by showing.

Avoid the use of imaginations in making up sentences. When stories are written in first person pronouns, it is difficult to write off things going on in the mind of the narrator. However, the reader should not have to feel that a great deal of the letters in a story were rather the narrator’s imaginations than real occurrences in the story.

Beware of articles. The use of articles such as ‘a, an and the’ is not totally discouraged, but if a sentence can still make sense without any of these articles, it is better to do away with them as this makes the sentence tighter and concise.

There is something like over-dialogue. Dialogues bring reality to a story. It does a lot of showing too. The reader engages his or her mind in creating a picture. That is, where the reader seemingly shares a space with the characters in a story. However, reading long lines of dialogues can be boring and has been termed as over-dialogue. Too much of it can reduce the spice in a work. And remember, the idea in writing a fiction is to make every line worth it. Reading your character’s words out loud can help determine what an average speech would look like.

Avoid irrelevant story lines. Certain digressions can stretch longer than normal, making the first idea in a paragraph to be lost, so that when the reader gets back to the main issue, he or she is wondering how far he or she has wandered off and struggling to bounce back to the main issue. Although, they may help the reader grasp the present, especially when it has to do with additional information from things that had happened earlier, it must be done with caution.

Watch out for how you build your suspense. A narrator may decide to hold certain pieces of information for suspense and wow effect, however, caution must be applied so as to not leave certain parts of a story loose. Also, there is need for several hints leading to the climax. This will help the reader tie several knots together. Remember, readers are not dummies who cannot make judgements on their own.

Try not to be sentimental. The first-person pronoun is an attention seeker. There is something about the first-person pronoun narrative that begs for empathy. Sometimes, it is overly empathised. You must watch out that the narrator does not appear to be maudlin.
Be conscious of your audience and the right language for them. This will help them navigate through your work with ease.

Read an avalanche of books on writing. Writers are readers. Read every material your eyes can catch on writing. Reading other writers’ work will help you hone your skills too, develop your style and have a clarity of voice.

Cheers to your writing.

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