There are thousands, perhaps millions of books, websites, seminars, etc. on how to write. Some of the advice is good. Some is bad. Chances are, if you’ve tried to get writing advice at all, you’ll run into certain things. Some say to write at the same time every day. Some just care about writing every day. Some write in spurts. Write what you know, write what you want to find out about. There are oceans of tips out there. Here’s what I wish someone had told me.
1. Make a calendar when you are pre-writing. If you outline, great, you can make it then. If not, fine, make it as you go along. Just make one. Not a timeline, though that’s a good thing to have too. But you want a calendar. It keeps you from making mistakes like having your character meet someone on Friday, and two days later it’s Tuesday. Also, if anything happens on special days, mark that. If your character has meetings every other Thursday, make sure they aren’t doing that and doing something else on the same day. If you have Werewolves or any other kind of Were, for Heaven’s sake, figure out the moon phase in your novel. That was what messed me up. In two different books. If you are doing an actual year, do you have to use the actual moon phases of that year? That’s up to you. If you can, wonderful. If not, most people won’t notice. To mess up a quote, if a river isn’t where it needs to be for your story, move the river. If you know who said that, or the original quote, please let me know.
2. Sometimes a story will flow, sometimes it won’t. Neither necessarily have any affect on the the quality of the story. You may be straining to get something written, the words fighting you every step of the way, but when you read it later, it sounds fine. But just because it flows when you write it, doesn’t mean it works well in the story.
3. No matter how supportive your friends and family are of your story, they will grow tired of hearing it long before you are tired of talking about it. The characters live in your head. Part of you feels they are real. You want to spend your time exploring them. Your family and friends want to know when they can expect a decent conversation that doesn’t involve fictional character and events. If you are fortunate enough to have someone willing to be your first reader, make sure you do not tell that person too much about the story. Can you surprise them? Do they feel the same way you do about the characters? Did they see the plot twist coming?
You’ll find your own rules as you write, and I’m sure I’ll cover more common rules too. But what have you discovered?