process & motivation:

  • Set a word count goal for each day. Break it down into smaller goals so you can cross them off as you go.
  • Have an overall goal to work towards. Decide how long you want your piece to be, and a timeframe of when you will publish it.
  • Don't compare yourself and your processes to others'. Don't worry if you can't/don't write as much as others. Only you matter.
  • Your first draft is going to be shit. Everyone's is. Don't worry about it. There's always plenty of time to change it. Just keep writing.
  • It doesn't matter how bad you think it is, just keep writing!
  • Set a time each day for writing when you're at your best, e.g. morning. Spend the rest of the time on other activities (marketing, research, etc)
  • If you feel writing is becoming a chore, write a scene where your characters are doing something fun, joking around. It might never make it into your book, but it will be fun to write. Make writing playful.

writing & plot tips:

  • Think about your overall theme.
  • Add conflict and tension by throwing in something unexpected:
    • Refer to something that's going to happen, e.g. someone has to make a doctor's appointment urgently.
    • Instead of having a pleasant conversation, have your characters argue over something the reader doesn't know about yet.
    • Try to add in as much tension as you can, even on every page. (not sure about that one myself.)
  • Jenna's tips for Sagging Middle syndrome:
    • 1. Outline - write one at the beginning. If your middle sucks, you'll be able to see that straight away.
    • 2. Structure - a well-defined plot.
    • 3. Fuck Shit Up - be as horrible to your character as you can! Make it really hard for them. Throw in something totally mean and unexpected and see how they react.
    • 3a. CCB - add a Complication, Crisis or Breaking Point.
    • 4. Watch Your Subplots - make sure they don't take over.
    • 5. Keep Moving the Plot - every chapter needs to move the plot forward in some way. Keep this goal in mind as you write.
  • If you get blocked and don't know what to write next, go back and examine the previous 5 scenes. Do they need to be changed for the story to move forward?
  • Decide when to reveal key facts - at the start, or later on? Revealing them later on can explain the actions of characters that didn't make sense before.
    • e.g. not knowing that Jon Snow is the son of ? affects the whole story. When the audience finds out, multiple puzzle pieces fall into place, and makes the story even more compelling.
  • Often the audience will know things that the characters don't know yet. Decide which character/s will know and which don't and make this clear. Think about how this knowledge or lack of knowledge will affect the character's actions.
    • However, it can get boring if it goes on too long. Take advantage of this by adding in dramatic irony (e.g. The Good Place : Eleanor: "wow, I almost died!")
  • Don't forget to look at the big picture. Focus on the overall story. Sometimes showing the piece to someone else can help you with this.
  • example: Dirk Gently. The show is practically unspoilable because if you have the answers without the questions, it doesn't make any sense. You need both to get the whole picture.
    • Work out the questions and the answers at the same time?
    • Or work backwards from answer to question?

editing & technical tips:

  • don't use the same word too many times in a paragraph/passage.
  • try reading it out loud to see if it flows.
  • make sure to use enough dialogue tags so the reader knows who's talking.
  • try to keep a balance between exposition/backstory and action.
  • Don't think about editing while you're writing, and take a break in between before you start editing. Preferably wait until the next day.
  • Read over your writing several times. Take a break for at least a day in between.
  • DON'T just rely on a spell checker to find incorrect words. Make sure to look for grammatical and punctuation errors as well.
  • If you're writing a more complex story with multiple plot lines or points of view, it might be helpful to use a tool such as Scrivener.
  • Don't spend too much time on editing. Overworking is bad.
  • Have it professionally edited if possible.


  • eavesdrop on people in cafes, public transport, the supermarket, anywhere. Use their conversations or general situations.
  • Use common sense to decide a character's motivation. If it doesn't make sense that they would do something, don't make them do it for no reason. Think of a situation that would force them to do it.
  • Gruff, grumpy, cranky or outright mean characters are often more interesting than "nice" ones. But make sure not to make them cliched.

feedback & criticism:

  • Try to have as many people read the piece as you can before publishing and ask for their feedback.
  • Take advice from other people, but don't dwell on it too much. Make sure you keep writing new material as well as going back to change what you've already written.
  • Don't take criticism badly. If it's constructive criticism, that's good! Learn from it! If it's petty criticism, ignore it. People might even say conflicting things about your work (e.g. it flows, doesn't flow, etc). Most of the 'feedback' is probably just people's opinions or preferences.
    • This applies to both before and after the piece is published.
    • All in all, the only opinion that matters is your own.

genre tips:

  • If you are going to write genre, you need to stick to that genre. Readers will expect a certain thing when they look for books in a particular genre, and if it doesn't meet their expectations, they won't keep reading.
  • mystery/thriller:
    • you need to think like both the criminal and the detective at the same time. Use visual aids to map out the crime.
    • mysteries are about finding out who the bad guy is. thrillers are about trying to stop the bad guy from doing what they're going to do.

inspirational quotes:

  • "Don't get it perfect. Just get it written."
  • “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page.” ― Jodi Picoult


nov 3 2018 ∞
jun 20 2019 +