Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

January 30, 2014 8:22 am

A Step by Step Guide to Great Writing

Writing, just like any other art, is learned. But remember, as Ernest Hemingway once said, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way!”

Let’s take a look this step by step guide to great writing and essential tips for mastering the art of great writing.

Writing tipsAlways have a pen and a paper

This may seem obvious, but you never know when creativity will strike. If you always keep a pen and paper handy you will be able to capture every one of those creative ideas, each and every time!

Set deadlines and targets

If you set a target and a deadline you are more likely to motivate yourself to get writing and keep writing. Set a target of something like 10 pages per day, or sitting down to write for four hours a day with one 30 minute break.


Think about what you want to write. Then write as many short points from the ideas you have generated. This is called pre-writing. If you do this before you start writing then you do not have to have breaks to think of ideas during the writing process.

Write rough drafts

A necessary evil of writing is creating a rough draft and going back over your work. To write a rough draft, take the points you generated out of brainstorming session and join them together.

Edit your work

Edit your work. Not only will you catch grammatical errors, but you’ll also be able to filter what’s important to your work from what’s not, and delete any unnecessary words, sentences, and paragraphs.


Proofreading has become easier than ever. You could use a proofreading software or just an individual proofreader with a good understanding of language. If you can’t afford to pay someone to proofread then try asking your friends or family. It is best to get someone other than yourself to proofread your work because you have seen it before and can miss a lot of the mistakes.

Get an expert’s view

Let an expert in your field of study read it after editing. This could be your tutor or someone else you know, like a classmate.

Audience-test your work

You don’t always need an expert to read your work. Let people you know – friends, relatives, or the public – give you some constructive criticism. Listen to what they have to say about your work and decide if their points are valid. Remember, you don’t have to accept all criticism. You decide. After all, it is your work!

Student help and writing guides brought to you by Jacob Jennings.



Writing fiction is all about asking yourself: What if?

“What if” is a great place to start if you’re stuck for ideas. Ask yourself questions that allow you to imagine life differently – your story or novel should be the answer to those questions. Now that I’ve told you this, you’ll start to notice the phrase “what if” on the backs of most novels, especially science fiction or speculative fiction.

Asking “what if” is a great exercise to practice when you’re people-watching, or riding public transit for long periods of time. For example: What if the passenger across from me suddenly jumped out the window? Or: What if I walked into work and everyone had disappeared? All of a sudden, you’ve got the start of a really interesting short story! (This is why it’s so important to keep a notepad handy at all times!)

For fun, I just walked over to my bookshelf and picked out a few classics to give you some examples of how the greats have asked “what if”? Try this yourself, and share what you find in a comment below!

1. 1984, George OrwellWhen writing fiction, ask yourself "What if"?

What if the government policed everything, including our thoughts?

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

What if an entire novel was written through the perspective of an autistic child?

3. Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut

What if an ordinary man began to think fiction was fact?

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

What if a beautiful young man sold his soul for eternal youth?

5. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

What if everything we knew to be true were twisted upside down?

My inspiration for this post comes from a fabulous reference book called What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. I highly suggest you pick up a copy, or borrow it from your local library.


December 12, 2013 8:05 am

How to: Write a Convincing Character

One of the biggest problems many of our students have when writing fiction is with character development. It’s difficult to create a three-dimensional character that will ring true for your readers, but it’s absolutely essential in order to fully immerse readers in your story. Here are a few guidelines to help you write a convincing character.

How to write a convincing character in your novels and stories

Do you really know your character?

You might have a general idea about who your character is (age, name, gender, occupation, etc), but do you really know your character?

As a writer, it’s your job to know everything about your character. From his (or her) marital status to his taste in music. Even if some of these details don’t show up in your story, knowing that your character was unpopular in high school, for example, will help you add realism to your story. It will also make your job much easier, as it will give you a better idea of how this person you’ve created would act in certain situations.

As you’re outlining your story, make a separate fact sheet for each of your characters. Begin filling it in with background information. The following list are some of my favorite questions for writers to ask themselves when creating backstory. Feel free to use this list, or make one that works for you:

  1. What does your character look like?
  2. What level of education does your character have?
  3. Where does your character work?
  4. What is your character’s annual income?
  5. What is your character’s ethnicity?
  6. Does your character speak using a particular accent, drawl, or turn of phrase?
  7. Describe your character’s relationships: romantic, familial, friends
  8. What does your character do in his/her spare time?
  9. What, if any, politics does your character follow?
  10. What, if any, religion does your character belong to?
  11. Does your character have any superstitions?
  12. What are your character’s main fears?
  13. What are your character’s biggest flaws?
  14. What are your character’s biggest strengths?
  15. What ambitions or goals does your character have?
  16. Does your character have any pets?
  17. What is your character’s taste in music, books, movies, etc?
  18. What does your character like to eat?
  19. When is your character’s birthday?
  20. Does your character have any special talents?
  21. Who are your character’s friends?
  22. Who are you character’s enemies?
  23. Does your character have any special marking like tattoos or scars?
  24. How does your character see him/herself?
  25. How do others see your character?

The list could go on and on, but these 25 questions are a great start to creating well-rounded characters.

Remember – as writers, your characters can be just like your best friends or  your second family. If you think of them as whole, real people complete with histories, worries, and ambitions, they will translate that way to your readers, and make your stories so much richer!