Professional tips

I found the first post shared here on Limebird Writer‘s site, and the second on the Creative and Professional Writer’s site.

Some of it’s fairly straight-forward but its easy to lose focus on simple things you need to remember ie. who your story is aimed at.

I’m going to own up to not being thick skinned; I’ve got thinner skin than… uh… a bat’s wing. It’s really thin skin apparently, I just checked. But…I always try to be ragingly polite no matter what and after half an hour of ‘woe is me,’ for some reason I just get on with it like a fool.

So anyway, here is Limebird Writer’s post:

 

I’ve been a professional writer for a fair while now, and in that time I’ve seen a number of people come and go. What most people don’t realise is that professional writing requires a far greater range of skills than merely ‘putting words on a page’. For a start, it requires superb organisation and an ability to produce quality content to a tight deadline. Writers also need to demonstrate a good working knowledge of their market, while proving themselves adaptable enough to write for any number of different audiences.

Think you’ve got what it takes?  Here are my tips for anyone hoping to start a career as a professional writer:

Get organised. Organisation is everything in professional writing. I really can’t overstate this enough. You can be the greatest writer in the world, but if you don’t know what it is you need to write, when you need to write it, and who you need to write it for, then you’re very quickly going to find yourself struggling.

Master your art. If your writing skills are going to earn you money, your grammar needs to be impeccable, and your proof-reading needs to be second to none. Not only should you be able to proof other people’s work, but you should also be able to proof your own!

Know your market. It doesn’t matter who you’re writing for, you need to know your market inside out. The more you know, the more you will be able to “bring to the table” as a writer. If you don’t know your market, it won’t take long before the cracks start to appear.

Prepare to sweat. Writing professionally is not easy. Nor is it well paid. Most of us do it because we love to write, or perhaps because we see it as a route to greater things. I tell you this now – if you want to be a professional writer, do not, I beg you, be under any illusions as to just how tough it is. If you want to earn the big bucks, I suggest you do something else.

Toughen up. Writing is tough. Writing for other people is tougher still. When it comes to writing on behalf of someone else very often you will find that it doesn’t matter how good your writing, or how well your work meets the criteria you were given, if the client doesn’t like it, the client doesn’t like it. As a writer, you work “at the coal face”. This means you take all the abuse, and receive very few of the plaudits. You know how the old saying goes: “If you can’t stand the heat…”

Get educated (or not!) You might be surprised to learn that you don’t need an English degree to be a writer. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I’d almost recommend you don’t have one, though that’s an issue for another blog!

So… do you still think you have what it takes? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Until next time,

Mike”

 

And here is the Creative and Professional Writer’s post:

“5 tips for writing short stories

Short stories are a difficult art form to get right. Put too much in, and you’ll overload your reader with redundant information and they’ll get bored. Leave too much out, and you’ll alienate your reader and make them feel like there’s an abstract message they’re too stupid to pick up on. Get it just right however, and you’ll have an emotive, gripping, yet sparse narrative that captures a moment perfectly. Here are 5 things that any short story writer should think about before getting stuck in:

1. Show. Don’t tell.

It is important that you write in a way that allows your reader to experience your character’s actions, feelings, senses, words and thoughts, rather than learn them through description or summary within the narrative. By understanding this, your story will be vivid and relatable throughout.

2. Know your character(s)

People are complex, unpredictable and unique. It is your job as a writer of short stories to make sure that we as readers understand this about your characters without you simply telling us. A helpful task that will make this much easier is to build a web about your characters every detail. Age, personality, appearance, past, job, relationships and more. As much as you can. Fill a page with things that you wouldn’t even consider putting into a story. This is just for you. The better you know your character, the more convincing they’re going to be.

3. Choose your point of view

Who do you want telling your story? What is the narrative voice that you’re looking for? This will have a huge impact on the direction of your story. All perspectives have their pros and cons and it’s up to you to choose which one fits what you want to say.

• First person unites the narrator and reader with secrets and perceptions, but is always an unreliable perspective and can also lead to ‘telling’.
• Second person puts the readers right in to the story. They become the character, and are immediately engaged to confront possibilities. It is, however, vital that your character’s actions are real enough for readers to image themselves doing.
• Third person can be omniscient or limited, and allows you to be as intimate or distant with your character as you like. However, this is the most difficult perspective for maintaining a consistent narrative voice.

4. Create conflict/tension

With a short story you don’t have the luxury of acres of space to build a setting or context. This makes it more difficult to create conflict/tension within a certain scenario. You need some sort of opposition to your character. This can be against another individual, nature, society, God or even the character themselves. Make it clear exactly what the opposition is within your story, and understand exactly what your character hopes to achieve. Your prose style can also help create tension. Short, sharp sentences alongside longer sentences can really help dictate the pace and overall tone of your work.

5. Don’t ‘spoon-feed’ your reader

Subtlety is a key feature in short story writing. A reader wants to interpret your work in their own way and don’t mind a bit of ambiguity within the plot or character. Ernest Hemingway developed his ‘Iceberg theory’ as a way of helping writers understand that hinting to something within a narrative, rather than clarifying it completely can allow someone to read between the lines. He said:

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.

Subtext encourages a reader to take a more active role in a story and it is important not to ‘spoon feed’ the reader detail that, if written well, they can work out for themselves. It is important, however, not to be too abstract. There is a fine line between ambiguity and obscurity. Make sure that your hints are tangible to connect with reader.”

Et voila. Please do some writing now, otherwise you will upset me.

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