Every writer has rules that help them strengthen their writing style. These rules not only reinforce their way of writing but push them to improve their writing as well. If you are sincere about improving your writing, you will start developing your own rules as well. If you don't know what rules to set yourself, I am going to share some of my own to point you in the right direction!
These are my tips, my rules, my writing guidelines. Let’s jump into it!
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Push Yourself to Write Every Day
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of rules that improve the flow of writing, let's discuss word count. A suitable word count per day can help you maintain consistent writing. I find that stopping and avoiding writing only worsens my flow of writing. I am not so forgetful, but if I take too long a break it seems I forget how to write altogether.
Sporadic writing is damaging to your writing, be it an article or a novel.
With that in mind, I stay productive and write as often as I can. Writing a thousand words a day ensures that I keep my business flowing as well. If I start to slow down, so does my productivity. With that in mind, a thousand words a day is nothing. Of course, 1000 words is my goal and may not be yours. Yet, if you write even 500 words a day, you are a step above the average writer!
Try to Not Use ‘Said’
I bring this rule up every time I find it fits an article. Using the word 'said' is not the end of the world, but there are so many better alternatives. With that in mind, I opened my mind to the wide array of words out there that I could use. Grunted, moaned, screamed, yelled, pleaded, cried, murmured, whispered, blustered, bleated, barked, burped, etc.
Wonderful words that can be used to add character to the speaker. With that in mind, I take advantage of dialogue to add to my characters. I make them weaker or stronger through the way they speak. Such a wonderful technique is destroyed when you use words like 'said' and even 'asked’. I like to think of this as a basic rule now, so if you haven't tried it, I recommend you do.
New Paragraph Every Point or at 50-ish Words
A rule that isn't so complicated either. Knowing when to start a new paragraph is important no matter what you are writing. It keeps your writing punchy. In this way, you not only space out your ideas and descriptions, but you add better flow to your writing.
Avoid the trap that novice writers make every day; long paragraphs that go on and on until the reader gives up or worse, the writer does. Keep your writing neat by starting a new paragraph every time you make a new point. Or, if your point is so large, every fifty-ish words. It looks a lot better and is far more enjoyable to read as well.
Plan It Before You Write It
It all comes down to planning. Whether it is a book or an article, knowing what you will write about next is essential. Having a plan ensures that you avoid dead ends, or avoid most of them. The same would apply to articles, to ensure that what your plan on writing about has enough content.
Even writing this article, I wrote a list of rules before. Rather meta to mention that, but it also reinforces this writing rule. Whether you are a novelist or blogger, planning will be a great boon at the end of a day.
When it comes to books, I have to plan everything out.
Some writers claim they can jump into writing a novel without a plan. Yet, these are the same writers who take several years to write a hundred-thousand word novel of chaos.
To boost productivity, plan your story out. If it is fiction or nonfiction, decide on your chapters and what they will contain. Once you have done that, it all comes down to your creative brilliance to add the content. Proper planning goes a long way, ensuring you get results sooner, not to mention up the quality as well.
Experiment with Your Writing
I love to experiment with different genres for various reasons. By working with different genres, not only do I improve my perspective, but I keep my interest in writing. Variety is the spice of life, so I found it necessary to give my writing life as well. I write a short story every day, a different theme each time depending on how on my feelings. The result is wonderful.
On the day of writing this article, I have written over 450 short stories. From action to adventure, horror to romance, I ensure I never get bored with my work. Not only that, it forces me to go the extra mile and research writing every day as well. If you are looking to start a daily writing habit or tackle short stories, be sure to check out my course on the subject!
Whether you are a blogger or novelist, you can fit a variety into your work. Writers, such as yourself, are creative people who wish to make something great. What is wonderful about this work is that you can convey any emotion in any way you wish. There is a no better, more efficient way of doing this than through short stories.
Write For Yourself, Never Pander
An important rule to remember throughout your writing. Once more, if you are writing fiction or non-fiction this applies.
If you are a fiction writer, your story should go the way you want it to. There are many times in the past I felt a story should go a certain way to make it a more mainstream read. Yet, knowing better, I wrote the story in a direction that I wanted it to go. A way that made sense and was satisfying to me.
Luckily, many people enjoyed the way it went. Yet, even if they didn’t enjoy the book, at least I would still be happy with it. Going with gut, especially when crafting your story, is better than making use of the same clichés and genre tropes that make up most fiction today. Go with what you believe is right before you follow the average writer.
The story was much better written the way I wanted it to be written. The quality was greater than it would have been if I decided to pander to the general public. It is this rule that I force myself to remember at all times, as it is easy to forget.
With nonfiction, you will need to teach what you know to your past self. If you approach the general public, you will find your work lacking. Yet, if you put yourself in your shoes in the past, you will find the questions that need to be answered. The quality of your books will be outstanding.
Never Force Your Characters
Of course, this rule applies to fiction writers. You cannot force your characters on a path. Despite all my best planning for some books and stories, I realized some flaws. The characters would not make such decisions as I needed them to. I will admit this can come down to poor planning, something I have done many times in the past. At least I avoid such mistakes more often than not.
Yet, there are times when these dead-ends are unavoidable. In which case, you as a writer must decide on one of two courses of action. Salvage your story and go the way you want or see where the story takes you.
Sometimes when you're in the middle of writing you can see a different path to the one you planned. This path can lead to an unexpected story, perhaps a different ending. You will be surprised how this can also result in a better story as well. In which case, it may come down to re-planning the novel from there onwards or seeing where the story leads.
Yet, if you wish to, you can salvage your story. You change certain scenes or even start over if that seems like a good idea. Even this is a better alternative to forcing your character. It breaks the scene, it breaks the immersion for your reader as well. Take it from me, having disappointed myself with some stories, this rule is vital.
Over the years, I have found these rules changing. From vague ideas to simple rules, to strictures that keep my writing on a good path. Often, either due to laziness or writing slumps, my work is lacking. The moment I pick up on this, I abandon a perfectly good project and move on to something else.
It is these guidelines that ensure I maintain a fantastic writing ethic and they can do the same for you. I have many others, but those only suit my writing style, not yours. I can highly recommend that when you find what works for you, write it down and read it often. With the above guidelines and your own, you will find the mental guidance that you need to pursue your writing goal.
Of course, you may find structure too restricting, but that two is a guideline to keep close to your heart!
On that note,
Good day, goodnight and happy writing!
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Thank you for reading!
Matthew Dewey, Writer
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