It was many moons ago when I had first tried my hand at writing. Like on a roller coaster, I've been up; I've been down. But along the way I've learned so many things. One of the biggest things I've learned is writing is a never ending process of learning.
I would like to share with you three of the most beneficial things I do, or have done, which I feel has helped me along the journey.
I'm sure you've heard, Read what you write. I'm going to agree with this but also disagree.
You should read what you write, but don't just read...study.
Study the way other authors write, their voice, the way they describe things, how they use dialogue tags, facial expressions, when a character really needs to be described and when one just needs a glossing over, their quirks, how they talk, the way they touch, their physical and emotional feelings, so forth and so on.
The same as above: You should read what you write but don't limit yourself there.
Read everything from adult to YA, from epic fantasy to urban fantasy and all the genres in-between, first person and third person. Read, read, read.
For you to truly study the techniques of writing, you must explore as many different writing styles out there as you possibly can, all the different voices, what captures your attention and took you for the ride to what bored the hell out of you.
Reading this way will help you to find your very own unique voice and give you ideas of how to express yourself in your own unique way.
Because bottom line, the job of an author is to capture the reader's interest and make them care!
2) Critique other people's work...
I'll be the first one to tell you that this is not only time consuming, and it's not always fun. On the flip side, I've read some gems--a couple from my sisters here on Oasis for YA.
Critiquing has helped me tremendously by letting me see first hand how others write, how they describe, if they are being repetitive, if one scene smoothly transfers to the next scene, is the timetable right, and so on. By finding these in others writing, it's helped me find them in my own writing.
Find yourself a small group or even just a single friend and pass around chapters or finished manuscripts. But don't just read it and tell them whether you like it or not.
Actually critique it.
Not only should you look for grammar and punctuation errors but rewrite clunky parts or maybe parts that didn't sit well with you.
This is a great writing exercise for you, and it helps the person that you're critiquing. It shows them specifically what you didn't like, how you might have reworded it differently, as well as open the idea box. Also, it will start conversations for you to discuss and brainstorm together.
Just be sure when you do this not to be mean about it. It's supposed to be used for learning, not hurting.
3) Edit your own work...
Not just once or twice, but four or five times--or as many times as you see fit--before you send it off to your crit partners or your readers.
I can guarantee you that while you are editing your own work you will think of ways to better describe your scene or maybe see things that don't line up right or whatever.
Also, this will help you clean up your own manuscript a bit, which in turn makes the critiquing part a bit easier for your partner and the read more enjoyable.
Thanks for reading!