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Take it away, Darlene.
One of the best writing tips goes back to my novice days. An author I admire suggested that we read our work aloud when we got to the rewrite stage. I decided to try it.
“What’s that?” my husband asked.
“You said something.”
“Just reading to myself.”
“Well keep it down. I’m trying to watch TV.” Luckily for him, I knew he was joking.
Reading aloud showed me where my words weren’t natural or where sentences were too long and convoluted. Sometimes I’d cut out words as I read and realize that I didn’t need them. Other times I’d add a word or two when I read and realized I needed that word on paper to make for smoother, more natural expression.
I do much less reading aloud now that I’m more experienced, but it was a great tip for me as a beginner.
The second thing I think is crucial for writing success is to join a critiquing group. This must be comprised of fellow writers. They know what you are trying to accomplish and what to watch for in your writing.
I’ve used two approaches. With one group, we emailed our work to each other before the meeting. We printed and commented on paper and then discussed the piece at the meeting. We gave the copies with our notations to the writer at the end of the discussion.
The second approach was to come to the meeting, pass out copies to the members and then read the piece aloud. Members jotted notes and explained what they felt was missing or needed.
The critical key in both groups was the one rule that the writer not comment at all during the discussion as the goal wasn’t to defend his or her work, but to take the information and use what worked for them. This worked well as the members of both groups held the mindset of helping their fellow authors so the critiquing was never mean spirited.
There are two added benefits to the critiquing groups. One is that the discussion sparks ideas for all and the critiquing of one piece can help you with your own work as you learn what things to watch out for.
Here’s a simple example.
“I don’t think so,” he said. He shook his head.
One member commented that the natural reaction would be for the action to come before the spoken words.
Bill shook his head. “I don’t think so.”
I realized that was a mistake I made often and I liked the result when I went back and made those changes.
Good luck with your writing.
What would be one of your top tips for writing?