A lot of teacher-authors read my WordDreams blog. In this monthly column, I share a popular post that writer readers enjoyed:
For those reading this article who are either established authors, in-training, or anything in between, you probably have already figured out that the learning curve to become a writer is steep and endless. I’ve read a ton of how-to books, attended more than my share of conferences, and meet with fellow writers twice a month to discuss our passion. In each of these situations, no matter how often I attend, I learn something new. So it is no surprise that I also find epiphanies in social media. Some streams offer one person’s insight that addresses a chronic problem I also have. Others answer questions I couldn’t put into words enough to get an answer from anyone else.
Here are some of the best writing tips I’ve gathered on social media in the past year:
- Get over your perfectionist tendencies.
- If you’re having trouble meeting the minimum word count, it’s probably because you’re not being specific enough.
- Keep a notebook with you at all times, and write in it. A lot.
- Don’t compare yourself to other authors. Find your unique voice and write your stories.
- If your story idea involves zombies, it probably has been done already.
- If your scene sounds too much like a TV show or movie you’ve seen, cut it!
- Writing’s hard. Good writing is even harder.
- To uncover the plot of your story, don’t ask what should happen; ask what should go wrong.
- Don’t let your dumb show.
- Perfect is the enemy of good.
- There are those who can make a $75 off-the-rack outfit look hand-tailored. Not true in writing. You can’t turn a bad novel into a good one by attaching a pretty cover.
- Boldly go where other writers won’t.
To share the criticism I and friends have received, I broadened the scope from social media to query letter responses, agents at writer’s conferences, Amazon comments, beta readers, and well-meaning friends. Some of these are more for humor than to be critical:
- What this story lacked in ambiance, it didn’t make up for with anything else.
- More criticism from a trusted beta reader whose day job is doctoring: “I find you have idiopathic thinking.” When I asked what that was, she explained, “It’s thinking of unknown origin. In other words: What the f*** were you saying?”
- From an agent who rejected my novel: I was whelmed.
- About a too-complicated story I submitted: A bridge too far and a euphemism too short.
- You promised a world-class thriller. I got a rerun of Fantasy Island.
- “Why the h*** did you waste my time?” Sorry. Autocorrect. I meant to say, “Thank you for the submittal.”
- I asked one agent for suggestions on fixing my story. Her response: “I got nothin’.”
- “You wrote your MC right into a corner and she couldn’t escape, like a defective Roomba.”
- “Nothin’ to see there.”
Have you found any great tips on your favorite social media?
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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Man vs. Nature saga, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the acclaimed Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Endangered Species, Winter 2024