Make no mistake, writing is a craft, and it must be learned like any other craft. It might seem as if all you have to do to write a book, or any type of publication for that matter, is to sit down and put your thoughts on paper. Wrong! That’s just the start. An important part, of course, for you must get the words down, but from there you face much hard work before your masterpiece is ready for publication. It’s very tempting when you finish your piece to think, ‘This is such a great story, I can’t wait to see it in print,’ but you must resist the temptation to put it up there as it is. That’s if you want the satisfaction of knowing you’ve written something others are going to enjoy reading.
My favourite quote concerning writing is this one from Ernest Hemingway, one of the greats: “There is no such thing as great writing, there is only great re-writing.” He should know!
These days we have so much help readily at hand – ‘how to write’ in books, on the web, with workshops and creative writing courses. Take advantage of as many as you can, your writing will improve, no matter where you’re at now. Two books I found helpful when starting out were ‘Stephen King on Writing’ and ‘Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale’. I also did a diploma course with the Australian College of Journalism, and have continued to attend workshops whenever possible. Every one of these has taught me something new, some valuable lesson. It’s an on-going process. As a writer we never stop learning, always striving to make the next piece better than the last.
When you finish your story put it away and don’t look at it again for as long as you can, certainly a few days, weeks is better, and you’ll come back to it with fresh eyes, better able to pick up inconsistencies. Read it again, carefully, and edit as you go. You might need to do this more than once before you’re satisfied it’s as good as you can make it.
Most of all, read. Read books by your favourite authors. See how they string phrases together, take note of what it is that makes their writing so good. And try to do as well!