Question: “If you could go back to 7th/8th grade, knowing what you know now about writing, is there anything you wish someone would have told you?”
Frankly, if someone told me in junior high that I was going to write for living, I would have laughed at them. Or fainted. Or possibly both. Sure, other students told me my stories were good and I should write them professionally, but – pfft – teenagers and their self-esteem issues … or was that just me?
However, there are some things that have helped me and thank goodness I picked them up along the way! On the off chance they help other authors, I’ll share them here:
1) A strong grasp of proper spelling and grammar. It makes your job a lot easier if you are able to self-edit the basics before you unleash an editor on your work. Plus, editors will love you.
2) “Show, Don’t Tell” was good advice that stuck with me. Instead of telling your reader “John was angry” you can show them by writing, “John’s face flushed and his hands curled into fists”.
3) Acting classes helped. A LOT. Learning about internal dialogue, body language, communicating without words, and thinking like “other people” helps me keep each character unique and believable.
4) Yoda said: Do or Do Not. There is no try.
This holds true for writers. You don’t “work your way” to being a writer. You either are or you’re not. There’s no “try” because the second you start to write, you are a writer, so give it your all from the start.
5) Research is your friend. Write about something you’re interested in, so the research keeps you interested.
6) Writing is like a skilled trade, but without the useful apprenticeship. You have teach yourself from whatever resources, classes, and workshops you can find and afford. Learn all you can about your craft and find what works best for you.
7) Study your genre and practice different styles until you find a voice that fits. If you write in multiple genres, you may end up with various “voices” since your “Romance Voice” won’t be the same as your “Murder Mystery Voice”, which will vary from your “Horror Voice”, etc.
So, there you have it. Things that have helped me as a writer. I hope they help you, as well 🙂