36 Writing Tips to Help You Write Like the Pros

As a blogger, writing is no doubt an integral part of your life. Be it fiction, or non-fiction, the quality of your writing should never dip below brilliant. You would no doubt have noticed that you seem to glide through the works of your favourite writers, never once having to stop to try to make sense of what they’re saying. They seem to have an almost surreal grasp over the language, probably making you think it’s unfair for you to have to compete with them.

(What you don’t know is that a lot of big name bloggers actually churn out horribly below average content, choosing to hire an experienced editor to sharpen up their posts)

Most bloggers have learned to edit their posts like a pro over time, carefully and deliberately honing their craft. You won’t have to spend all that time though, because you are going to have this beefy list of 36 writing tips to help you level with the pros. That being said, you’re not going to start magically liking editing. I don’t think I know a single writer who likes editing. However, in training you to look for certain flaws, it will make your life easier.

Read More

Can’t Commit to a Novel?

It’s not what you’re doing — it’s how you’re doing it

 

Writing a book, publishing it, and making millions off the royalty fee – that’s the dream, isn’t it? We all want to reach that stage one day, where we wake up to a topped up bank account, full of money coming in from our latest book release. The laurels, the fame – it’s all amazingly tantalising.

But God knows writing a book isn’t that easy – otherwise, everyone would write a book. It requires careful planning and outlining, completing the first draft, editing and polishing it to produce a second draft, possibly even a third. Finishing a book alone is a lot of work, but the job doesn’t end there. Next comes publishing. Whether you choose to go traditional or pick self-publishing as your preferred route, publishing is definitely more taxing than actually writing. You also have to build an audience who are just jumping at the chance to buy your book, regardless of which route you pick. That can take a while too. After that, there are book signings and events to take care of, in addition to the endless marketing you’re going to have to undertake.

And so you turn to the experts from around the web for help. After all, if you just do the exact same thing as them, you’ll strike rich too. You try everything possible. Follow all the steps outlined by every single one of the experts. You scour the net for countless resources, wasting immeasurable hours. Maybe even try enrolling in one of those classes that promise you a finished book by the end of the course (we all know how well that works out). You’ve given it your all, but your book just refuses to be written.

Don’t tell me that you’ve never had that feeling — we all have, at some point or another. I, myself, have started and successfully failed to complete (I’ll tell you why this was a success in a bit) seven books. Yep, seven. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s not something I have to be embarrassed by either. Ditching seven books taught me one thing — novels just aren’t for me. I could partly formulate an idea, but couldn’t carry it on for very long (my highest word count has been 8,000 words).

After a while, I stumbled upon an article that suggested accountability as the key to the success of numerous published authors, so I gave it a go. I began offering free previews of the two books I was working on to email subscribers, in hope of gaining some accountability. Alas, it was for naught (although I did get some valuable feedback from it, and learned that previews are not a very good lead magnet).

Read More

The Most Essential Elements of Any Non-Fiction Work

How to draw readers in and keep them interested

What is the difference between the biography of Elon Musk, and your physics textbook (draw such a comparison between any biography or autobiography and another non-fiction book)? Interest? Portrayal? Whether you’ve been forced into it or not?

Yes, those may contribute, but they are not the most important ones.

The most essential elements of a text that would draw people in are simply these:

  1. A sense of awe or admiration
  2. Anticipation

If a reader feels captivated by a story, they will hang onto it with their life. And this captivation can only be built with creativity.

I know it sounds clichéd, but writing is nothing without creativity. And surprisingly, most people seem to overlook this.

For example, read this passage and pay attention to how it sounds:

This block of wonder can do so much more than you would think. While it is usually used to support structures hundreds of feet high, its capabilities do not end there. Our product is going to revolutionise the toy and creative inspiration industry and disrupt it with a bang, knocking the established ‘experts’ off their feet. It has the scope to do almost anything — all that limits it is the extent of your creative and inventive ability. Sign up now to make sure you’re the first to kick start your life!

Can you guess what I was advertising? Read More

Why Using Services like Wattpad and Amazon Singles is a Terrible Idea

Per chapter, real-time updates to stories are a horrible idea

 

There exist websites that allow anyone to set up an account and start publishing fiction right away – just like WordPress, Medium, and all the other blogging platforms, but for fiction exclusively. I haven’t used Amazon Singles, but did actively write on Wattpad, so I can comment on it with certainty.

The first thing you do on Wattpad is set up an account – whether you’re there to write, or just to read others’ work, an account is vital. Then, you go through the standard profile setup, and you’re ready to write.

On Wattpad, stories are generally published chapter by chapter (by generally, I mean that’s the norm. No one publishes the entire thing in one go). To kick things off, you need to upload a cover and enter a title. If you don’t have a cover, your story will be graced with an ugly, blown up version of your profile picture. Next, you’ve got to pick a category for your story, and add some tags to increase discoverability.

Finally, you can begin writing your first chapter.


Until around two months ago, I used to house all of my fiction work on Wattpad in hopes of field testing my stories, seeing if others liked them, etc. I tried to get up one chapter every week, just before midday, Friday (right before the Wattpad algorithm refreshes its ‘Explore’ page, thereby maximising impact). I did a lot of research, experimenting, and asking around as to how best establish my presence on the platform, and found but a handful of long, laborious ways. At that time, I was writing on Medium and my blog too. And had about fifty other things to take care of. Put all that together, and you’ll burn out within a week at most. At best, you’ll make a very below average impact on each platform.

That obviously is not a good thing. So, I decided to get rid of some avenues. Comparing the traction, interaction and success I saw on each platform, I found that Wattpad was doing the worst, despite me putting up the most work and putting in the most effort there.

Read More

Islands to Swim to — The Power of Images in Writing

A lesson learned from Jeff Kinney

 

Once we migrated from children’s books to YA and beyond, books with pictures in them were immediately thrown to the side, discarded as “baby books”. But the world of articles and other online pieces of text follow different rules. Images attract readers, they reel them in, like bait for fish.

December of last year, I attended the Puffin Annual Lecture with Jeff Kinney as the speaker. While there was a lot to take away from the talk, I’m going to focus on my personal favourite — Jeff Kinney’s concept of islands in books. He used the example of his school textbooks to illustrate his point, but that can be extended to articles too.

Jeff Kinney on stage at the podium
The quality’s a bit fuzzy because my then-phone didn’t have the greatest camera ever

Read More