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Greatest writing tips

Posted by Katie

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Forum: Writing and Poetry

What are your greatest writing tips? 


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Reply by ιиvιzαвℓε

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depends on the setting by the choices of words. i like to word play my alliteration. making them into poems with assonance & consonance to be vocal without the music but with sound. if that makes sense. 


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Reply by Smxth

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When stuck.  


I begin writing the first thing in my mind with no filter, normally end up with non working sentices and words that don’t mean anything but after a bit of time.   I start finding the meat.  Like cleaning your brain of dust to get to the good.    

Works for me.  


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Reply by Nein MC

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Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

-- Ira Glass


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Reply by ƒєℓιχ

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Don't give up and don't let others get you down.

For most of my life I let people (family) put down my writing. Not the quality of it, but just becoming an author. I was too young, then I was "too old to have not been published yet". The writing world is too competitive and I wasn't going to make it, they said. My writing was okay, but there was no way it'd be published. When I started college for a degree in writing, family came down on me about what a waste it is and how I was throwing away four years of my life. I let myself get pushed around, ended up not taking my writing seriously and bouncing around from degree to degree. Spent 8 years in college because I tried a bunch of different majors only to end up... back in a writing degree.

I did waste years of my life. Not in following my passion, but in listening to nay-sayers who only wanted to cut me down.

Now, I'm a published author. I started an indie press a year ago. I'm working on my Masters in fiction writing. I'm active in my genre's writing community and have met some amazing fellow authors.

I wish I could tell my younger self, "Follow your gut! You'll make it!" Since I can't, I always say it to others.


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Reply by Anthony Taylor

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"You are your own worst critic."

I learned this when writing my first novel. I thought it wasn't good enough and that people would end up hating my work. I'm glad I hadn't talked myself out of publishing because they loved it.


Never give up.


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Reply by RIP

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- Make your characters emotions relatable even if the scenario isn't. 


Ex.) An alien befriends a human and the human betrays the alien to the government. No one has ever been sold out to the government for being an alien. However most of us know what it feels like to be betrayed in some way or another. Lean into that.

- Make every character different people and not just cardboard cut outs of stereotypes. A good writing exercise is to come up with a basic problem and think about how the characters would handle that same situation different.

Ex) Something is on a high shelf.

Lucas: Climbs or jumps on the cabinets consequences be damned.

Quinn: Just reaches up and maybe stands on his tip toes because he's insanely tall.

Ryane: Would have Quinn or Lucas lift her to reach it.

Natalie: Would get a step stool.

Hope this helps!


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Reply by Erika Marie

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"Write drunk, edit sober."


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Reply by Lord Byron Silverhand

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The rough draft is you telling yourself the story - so don't worry about it being "good." That'll probably take a few revisions. 


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Reply by Rain

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I think it helps to really understand the characters in the story. 


When I lay in bed at night, waiting to fall asleep, I think about a normal day or routine from the perspective of a specific character. Obviously, most stories occur on an abnormal day, but it helps to have a firm understanding of the character's typical routine that the story is veering them away from. 

This practice helps me deep dive my characters. I know what jobs they've had, or if they've had a failed attempt at college. I know if they're on good terms with their parents, or anything else that might be relevant. 

The real challenge becomes deciding how much of this information the reader actually needs. 

This habit also helps me fall asleep. Ha ha.


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Reply by Laura Wolf

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You improve with mileage.


Keep writing, even through writers block when your words are terrible and don't come out right. If you have words on a page you can always go back and edit them.


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Reply by bob e

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Don't write to please someone else, please yourself.  By doing so you will find an appreciative audiance who will actually get and understand your writing.


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Reply by HΣX

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updated


Let's see, these other replies were spot on, so I'm just going to give some simpler, more technical advice. 

- Remember phrasings that you like. I love to read older poetry and books because the language was a lot more rich and diverse. Make them your own, though.

- Look up a few words every day. Build that vocabulary!!

- Don't repeat words or names very close together. This is especially hard to do with names because you have to reference them so much for clarity. Think of some simple ways to describe the character, and use those. Swap them around and mix them up so the story doesn't sound repetitive.

Ex
You could use all of these in place of "she."

Princess Natalia: the queen's daughter; the daughter of house Devreaux; the night-crowned girl; the young woman; Talia; the noble; the royal young lady; the shorter woman; the other...

- The same rule applies for not starting the sentence with the same word. Switch the wordings of sentences around often.

- Paint pictures with your words. Don't go overboard on the length, but a few moments to read about how a setting smells, sounds or feels, or a detail that really shines some light on the scene and enlightens the reader's perspective really helps to put magic into your writing. 

- For some, it helps to think a bit before you start to write or make a list of points you want to make... and then there are others that just write first and ask questions later. 

- No process is wrong, just figure out what works for you and set a goal. No matter how you go about it, set yourself a goal. It helps. Even if it's just a goal you want to accomplish in the next few minutes or in an hour or before the day is done.

I hope this helps! I can't think of anything else to add at the moment!! Happy writing!


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Reply by Brian Palmer

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DON'T write what you know, as the old wisdom suggests. START with what you know, if you must, but by all means, get outside your comfort zone. Stretch yourself (both in life and in your writing), challenge yourself, because if you aren't doing this, you likely won't challenge your reader very much.


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Reply by livingdeadmag

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The best piece of advice I have is to try and make time every day for writing, especially if you're working on a bigger project.


Also if you're going to sit down and write then try to set a certain goal for a word count, like 2000 or so words, but also don't beat yourself if you can't meet it. A little bit of writing is better than no writing, y'know?


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Reply by Emo_pancake

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Might sound stupid, but if you feel stuck try switching to writing in comic sans.


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Reply by Shenkse

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You don't have to explain everything that happens.

For example;

I wiped my bloodied knuckles on the back of my now torn jeans. Great, that was another expense to add to this fruitless run.

Jackson's body lay sprawled out on the floor, blood slowly weeping from the wound on his head, where it'd hit the hard floor. 
Was he still breathing? A momentary urge to check fluttered through me, before it was chased away by the sound of approaching sirens.

The paramedics would check, that was there job, not mine.
I turned on my heels, and shoved open the door to the street with my shoulder. Regretting the choice when a surge of sharp pain jolted through me. 
Yep, I'd definitely pulled something. 

                                    ______
I awoke, curled up in my bed with every part of my body aching. The handful of painkillers I'd taken before collapsing into a dreamless sleep did nothing to soothe the aches. I should see a doctor.



I used to waste so much time writing down every action my protagonist took to get from scene to scene. I hit so many writing walls because of it.

With that example, I didn't need to tell the reader what happened. They can fill it in for themselves. 

Don't get bogged down in the details, move the story along. 


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Reply by Jiggy the Creative

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Often, I find that it comes down to the confidence. lack of makes you overthink instead of being your-authentic-self. 


Love, Jig


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Reply by Bunny._.inc

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Use your emotions, let out all your feelings and burdens onto paper. Dont stop to think about what youre writing, itll all just come naturally


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Reply by TheCornCob

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keep it simple. just as simple as that

you can make an entire sentence go from:

"Dazai felt as if his way of living was so out-of-this-wordly, he was so scared of himself and who he was as a person that he destroyed any chances of socialization or interactiong"

to

"Dazai felt as if his way of living was too surreal, where he was mortified enough at his own character that he shut himself out"

wordy sentences are fun to write but aren't that fun to read


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Reply by saturnstellar✧˖*°࿐

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Write whatever you want the way you want it, and don't be afraid to share it with others. Writing can be scary at first, but in order to make room for improvement you have to get out of your comfort zone. 


Now... for other tips that I personally have... 
1. Read. (It can be anything really, but please read.) Then add every single piece of vocabulary you don't understand and add it to your dictionary. I personally like to use an app I have called "Create Dictionary". 

2. Outlines are amazing if you want to make a scene but don't know how to organize it or make it longer.

3. Have the ideas of the dialogue but not the narration? Write them in script mode first so you don't forget the idea, and later further yourself into writing. 

4. Pie diagrams do wonders into comparing characters and such. 

5. 5000 words is ten minutes of reading. 500 is a very tiny amount... Do what you will with this information. 

6. Please for the love of god, know your definitions and don't overuse weird synonyms. 

7. You don't need to follow a way to write your narrations. Very much like art, you can have your style, and that's what makes it charming. People really like it when sentences are easier to read. You just gotta find a middle ground between elegant and casual.

8. Pinterest has many useful pictures to help you into building plots, writing descriptions etc. 

9. Beta readers are useful, but overrated. In case of not having one, great bots like Grammarly and LanguageTool can help you to fix your mistakes. 

10. In an art class I was taught that when you're doing art you need to take a step aside and look at your art piece from far away and take a break. The same applies with writing! Not everything has to be done in one round!


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Reply by Veli

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Don't expect your story to be perfect the first time you write it. Make drafts, edit, edit and edit. And don't hesitate to show your work to the world, doubt and hesitation is your worst enemy.


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Reply by Nadia

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Focus on the big picture. Also, dialogue will almost always sound awkward when you read it out loud so you don't need to spend all your time trying to make it sound "natural" because natural sounding dialogue often reads really badly (in my experience). 


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Reply by jahzlyn

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   If you're writing for a specific time period, watch a show that's based around it, it'll help you get in tune with rhythm, dialect, and slang form that period. 


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Reply by ThatOneWeirdBish

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1. Plan your story; plan the characters, the settings and all the chapters

2. Write down AMAZING words like; Onomatopoeia (the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named (e.g. cuckoo, sizzle )
3. Write the first chapter
4. Proof read and change

    repeat ;))
i hope3 this helped


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Reply by Hui-Hyp=]

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updated

Don't write things like "He smiled happily at her." or "She cried tears of sadness." If you feel like you have to clarify your character is crying because she's sad then you either need to go back and set the tone better or take it out because it's just a meaningless adjective. The reader should know whether or not she's crying out of sadness or joy based on situation and tone. For "He smiled happily at her." Yeah, no sh!t schlock. When you read something like "He smiled at her." you automatically assume he's smiling because he's happy. No need to add an adjective like "happily" when the tone should make that clear already. Hope this helps and is understandable!


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  1. the thesaurus is your friend
  2. no shame in using grammarly or other apps. 
  3. try try again
  4. follow your creative impluses
  5. anything can trigger creativty. (you dont have to spend alot just to get a new perspective)
  6. say yes more often.
  7. challenge yourself 
  8. refresh your skills 
  9. its okay to take a break and comeback
  10. always read your stuff outloud before closing it off. 


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Reply by shirin

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it’s a good idea to get ideas from songs and books! 

they have good words and sentences and emotion in their words :)


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Reply by jillian♡

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You need to be able to really feel what you write. For example, I'm writing a piece titled "Reflections on Life by the Wife of an Addict" about exactly that, a drug-addicted rockstar's wife reflecting on her life (with him) 30 years on from his death. A few days before I started writing it, my boyfriend (a her*in addict) was sent to rehab for a year, and I could really put myself in the wife's shoes and thoroughly explain how she felt, having been in that situation myself. If you're writing intense emotions, you need to be able to know how those emotions actually feel and impact a person. Never try to depict and emotion (in detail) that you have never felt. You can ask someone else who HAS felt that way for a description, but if either you haven't felt it or you don't have a description of how it truly feels, find another emotion to use.


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Reply by psyfi

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a good writer is a good observer. 


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Reply by Jessica Snow

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The only one I really have is one that's a bit difficult to explain... but I'll try my best!

Envision the story you're writing... is a show/movie in your head. What naturally happens next? What feels like the "show" is going in the right direction?
 
The way I analyze TV shows for plot holes... helped me analyze my writing for plot holes, too. That improved my skill quite a bit. I hope it makes sense, because I, a skilled writer, have no other words to explain this! :'D


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Reply by Winky

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One of my tricks that works for me, i don't always do this when I have a solid idea in my head, i listen to sad music if i want a sad scene or happy upbeat music for a similar mood, then again a random playlist sometimes directs my flow of emotions of my characters in the up and down.


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Reply by DeryckEleven

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I've been doing 100words dot com (you can type it in if you want, I'm already sick of all the spam on here and don't want to look like part of the problem) for a few months now, and writing every day has been so powerful for me. I have previously written and self-published a short work (novelette, maybe?) but that was written in spurts. I had an idea that wouldn't go away, so I started writing it down and that felt good. But since then, I find it hard to consistently write. I'll go months without writing anything and then I'll spend an afternoon writing a story. I'll get in a mood and write eight thousand words. And then nothing.


Writing one hundred words every day has been huge. There's no prompts, just a requirement. I decided to tinker with flash fiction and have written a good number of those. This month I'm trying to write a three thousand word story across the thirty entries. It's given me a forced pacing that I'm curious to see how it turns out.


So just write every day is what I'm saying. It really does matter. And I kind of hate that.


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Reply by Chhow

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Depending on what you want to write. Prose and poetry differ in the process of writing, I think. It is also important to understand whether you will saturate your work with symbolism or describe what is on your mind. In any case, I always use drafts, which I can then turn into worthy works.


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Reply by Rose

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This is an excellent thread on improving our writing skills, and I thank everyone who contributed. There are a few things I would like to add to strengthen anyone's writing. 


  • Start with a catchy headline. 
  • Write in a clear, concise style.
  • Engage your readers.
  • Write about topics


However, writing is a kind of art it depends on lots of practice. I love to write, and sometimes I need an assistant. Therefore I use different writing assistance services. The service could have gotten you the perfect writer you want, but it helps to minimize your time & where you could generate more knowledge. I used to take 3-5 services. You can check it out here. 


But we should keep in mind that the best help is our imagination. Let me know if you find any other writing service that helps you. I could test it out and share my opinion too.


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Reply by trenchfry

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If you need ideas for a story, I recommend making a list of things you really enjoyed about the last few books you read. For example, my list includes stuff like, "the clumsy character wasn't just comic relief" or "the 'oh' moment". That can generate some sick prompts pretty quickly, and even help you tailor your story specifically to your tastes.


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Reply by JERK!

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The best advice from me writing is:

to write down every thought that passes by in your brain. 

The amount of poetry and heartfelt things people think about in a day is very large, I think that if you want to write then you have to understand what your saying not just writing down gibberish.

Write consistently, write as often as you can.

Write what your heart desires to write about. 

DONT QUIT. 


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Reply by Mason

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updated

one piece of advice I feel like everyone should keep in mind is giving information via narration at the appropriate time, even if the information is given in the narration it's important to set up and i see people give out information at random times a lot 


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Reply by x1_glenn_1x

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Structure is key and knowing what idea of you want to write is also key. Know where you are starting and what you want the piece of writing to finish.


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Reply by Morgan

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I personally like to write the title of the story first and then let it change as the story progresses. It's a really easy way to get inspiration!


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Reply by Ainsley

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  • If you're stuck, try changing the weather of the scene.
  • If you're still stuck, look ten sentences back. You might find your problem there.
  • Write what you enjoy, you're going to be rereading it a lot when editing. Make sure it's something you won't get sick of.
  • Have a comfy drink/water bottle, and/or snack nearby. It helps when you get distracted and want to procrastinate by digging through the fridge/cabinet.
  • Have somewhere that you can just safely and comfortably dump ideas and brainstorm rapidly. Even if it's a non-responsive source (i.e. even if it's a private post, a diary app, or a discord server all to yourself, a friend, etc.). None of the ideas have to make it into your writing, but it's good to just throw those things out of your brain and you might get something to go off of/an idea for later!


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Reply by ⦻ circus/graves 🌈💊📼🎸 ⦻

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when talking about a topic, don't reuse the same word too closely. if you do this it comes off as unprofessional and I personally dislike it. use synonyms or refer to the subject as 'it' or just don't use anything at all.


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Reply by frottow

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Always, always, always make a bulletpoint list of key events in your story to help you keep on track, these can obviously be chopped and changed but it helps a lot. Also adding notes of any possible ideas for ways to lead from one event to another, key details you want to spread throughout the story and just general notes of details you want to remember continuously or even later on in the story.

When writing in google docs or something, i tend to colour-code my text with a key at the top. One colour for important details, another for descriptions (to ensure info does not conflict), and another for sections you wanna come back to and rewrite, etc.

Pretty basic ideas but it helps! Especially when I take long breaks between writing sessions.


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Reply by unluckydumpsterfire

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listen to music similar to the style that you want to project, it honestly works wonders without even trying :P


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Reply by strawberry

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hmmm i'd say my favourite piece of advice right now is that when smth big happens, write abt smth small. like if a city is on fire, write abt a child's burnt socks on the street. if a big hero was defeated, write abt the inner world of their partner, etc etc. i saw this advice on tumblr and it works well for me! hope it works for everyone too <3


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Reply by strawberry

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hmmm i'd say my favourite piece of advice right now is that when smth big happens, write abt smth small. like if a city is on fire, write abt a child's burnt socks on the street. if a big hero was defeated, write abt the inner world of their partner, etc etc. i saw this advice on tumblr and it works well for me! hope it works for everyone too <3


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Reply by evrst

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These are just a couple tips I learned from my English classes the past two years that helped to improve my writing a little bit, still improving on it tho (。•̀ᴗ-)✧

- When you finish writing a piece, go back and highlight all of the common verbs you can find and make half of those more descriptive and detailed verbs. It doesn't have to be much

- Don't be afraid to use synonyms

Idk that's just me tho, but this helps me write along as I go, so maybe it helps some of you \_(´ー`)_/


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Reply by Maxami

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Plan out your story before writing it


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Reply by RosiiWowzii

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Whenever i write a story, i just write whatever i can think of and then expand on it, i also write it in alot of detail to expand the word count but also get more ideas


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Reply by Ina

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I'm a daydreamer, so I imagine a lot of things throughout the day. Before I start writing, I think about the concept first and 'role play' to see if it's something interesting. I put myself in the shoes of the characters and adjust their aspects.

For messy thinkers and writers like me, I suggest brainstorming. I put a bunch of keywords and loose dialogues on a piece of paper and then refine them to create what I want. Like moulding clay.

I also try to use vivid imagery to convey all sorts of things, in a poetic sense, even if it's not poetry.

Figures of speech help you create an interesting narrative. In poetry I like to use metaphor, personification (to increase the impact of certain emotions by giving human qualities to non-human entities) and alliteration (gives the poem a musical approach).



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Reply by autumn/nico ✧˖°.

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"never end a chapter on the same tone it started" is a huge one for me because I tend to be bad at pacing and end up dragging things out


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