How to become a better writer

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We all have a story to tell, or so they say. The problem is, for most people, getting your story out to the world. While only a fortunate few become bestselling authors earning millions of dollars a year from their writing, it is not impossible to enjoy success as a published writer in many other ways.

Your dreams of seeing your words in print or reading glowing reviews of your writing might not be as far-fetched as you think. If you have a passion for writing and is willing to put in the hard work, no matter how old or young you are, you can become a published author.

Here are a few steps on becoming a better writer.

Write

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The most important thing you need to keep in mind is that if you want to be a better writer, you will need to hone your skill. That is why it is critical for you to write, write and write some more. It doesn’t matter when you write, what you write or how much you are writing, as long as you just keep writing. Even those who are born with a knack for story-telling still need to master the technical aspects of writing a novel.Remember that talent will only take you so far. It is how you sharpen your talent that will determine how successful you will become.

Read

You must read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Whether they are good books or really horrible ones, read them. Then try and figure out what separates the bad ones from the good ones and the good ones from the great ones. Keep a sharp eye on how the author has used dialogues to define a character.

A good writer breaks down the books he or she reads. Pay close attention to words, thinks about the effects they make and how they mix with the other words.

Observe

Observing people is a very popular tool used by many writers. Look around you, there are so many people that can inspire you to create a character. Watch and listen to people talking and interacting. A good writer notices their mannerisms and picks out their striking characteristics.

An interesting story has to have memorable characters, and observing people will help you create characters that are not flat or two-dimensional. It is a great advantage to be stimulated into ideas for writing just by observing.

Learn to use things that you know.

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You undoubtedly have your own thoughts, interests, and concerns, and they have arisen, as mine have, from your experiences and adventures as a human being. . . . You should use them in your work.”

This is what Stephen King had to say in his book ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’, the most popular book about writing ever written.

Notice that he said “use them in your work,” and not something like “let them become your work.”

Most amateur writers and bloggers do not seem to suffer from a dearth of stories, but from overusing their stories. They tend to fall in a trap where they write about little things without realizing that it makes for boring reading. Your anecdotes add flavour, however like any condiment, they will spoil the dish if you overuse them.

Finish

Make it a habit that you finish whatever you’re writing. There can be no shortcuts when it comes to endings. Just as a carpenter can’t sell a table without the legs, you can’t sell a half-written story. It might not sound that important, but having a completed book separates the writers from the others. Many people want to write a novel, but only a few get to the end. Your ending might not be great or you might not be satisfied, but it is imperative that you finish your book.

The first draft

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Your first draft is always going to be rough. And it’s okay. That is why it is called the “first draft.” This will give you a place to start. While it might not be what you were expecting, do not get disheartened. Also do not show it to anyone, because you will first have to..

Edit. Rewrite. Revise.

Editing, rewriting and revising is extremely important in crafting a good novel. This will help you tighten the plot and get rid of parts that don’t work. After you’re through with it, get a few trusted people to read it. While you might not like what they have to say, you have to make sure that they are honest about their feedbacks.

This will help you decide whether there should be some more revisions. You do this because you should send your novel into the world only when it is as best as it can be.

Write something else

The final step is, whatever happens to your book, you should be ready to start working on something new. Keep in mind that a writer always has something to write.

We hope this has been helpful.

Good Luck!

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The Penguin India Blog

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