Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Scribere // Or, if you speak English, not Latin: To Write

a guest post by Layla.

Writing. Though Microsoft Word objects strongly to this start of a sentence and will not quit barking at me "fragment 'consider revising'", I am determined to keep it there, standing alone, for it seems to carry the very essence of my post within its seven miniscule letters. Writing is a true exertion of mind and imagination, writing is a way to let your thought and feelings soar like that golden eagle with an ominously curved beak flying in the sky. Many people have an ever-growing desire to write a book--whether the subject is historical fiction or futuristic horror, but many people struggle, thinking their plot isn't firm enough, characters' emotions aren't realistic or descriptions and dialogue are bland. Therefore, I have compiled this list of tips to help you along with your writing expedition and a bit later on I will address another slight topic based upon writing. Enjoy!

1).  Surprise Yourself.
If you aren't surprised by any major events, or what you want to call twists, then you can be positive that your readers, to be frank, won't be surprised at all. Sometimes I feel like I am controlling my characters too much, in which case I pay no attention to my own thoughts and simply write, letting my characters do as they see fit. You want your characters to be your children--you created them and gave birth to them--but not your slaves. Guide them gently and give them a few firm pushes but don't force the unnecessary upon them. If you don't let them make some of their own choices you'll find your story suddenly unrealistic and your characters not pictures but words.

2). Make Yourself Bawl Like An Obsessive Fan-Girl

Though this one relates slightly to my previous entry, it seemed vital enough to be included as its own tip. You don't want to be able to read through your entire book without getting choked up or slightly sorrowful, for a book lacking emotion is like bread lacking yeast--never getting the chance to rise. I killed my favorite character in the 8th chapter of my book and I honestly got tears in my eyes. Reading it back to my brother, he looked away when I read the part to him so I didn't see his show of emotion. You want to emotionally disrupt your reader so that they can thoroughly enjoy the book, even through the floods of tears or slamming of book covers. So muster up some courage and abruptly kill your favorite character, make them lose an object which was required to complete their quest or have a deep betrayal when it seemed like your book was drawing near to a close. And, to quote Robert Frost, ..."and that has made all the difference." For indeed, one mere action most certainly can do just that.


 3). Use Real-Life Dialogue
Dialogue seems to be a subject that is struggled over many a time by both experienced authors and amateurs. How do you know if your dialogue sounds even slightly realistic? I am trying not to give you
the impression that I am an expert, for I am not by any means, yet am giving my humble opinion and hoping it will help you in some small way. Though this idea was mainly stolen from N.D. Wilson, I have tweaked it quite a bit to fit it my personal tastes. If you choose to use this idea I advise making it fit for yourself, as this is a subject which will tend to vary depending upon person. The idea is: use conversations you have overheard or had with people, change the theme entirely and apply them to your book. This may be a little confusing so I will use an example of my own.

The original:
"You promised you wouldn't scare me anymore, Sissy!"
"No I didn't. Or at least I forgot if I did."

The edited version:
"You promised me you would stay away from the donuts, Charles! You are getting far to fat!"
"No I didn't. Or if I did I forgot it now!"

I tweaked the words, added and took out depending upon character, and made clear, realistic dialogue.

4). Relate To Your Characters
I despise when I finish a book and there is not one single character who has the tiniest thing in common with me. You want to have a variety of characters with numerous personalities and quirks so that everyone will have someone to relate to even a tiny amount. It gets dull reading about numerous characters who are all the same, but are the exact opposite of you. Most people get along much better in real life with people who have many similarities in tastes, beliefs and such and it is the same in books. Do not repeatedly add new characters with the same personalities. Vary them. Make them relatable.

5). Use Description (But Not Too Much!!!)

I tend to become disgusted when looking through other people's list of writing tips, and see them say not to describe things because it will bore the reader to death! And it all depends on if you overuse description. A book with zero description is more likely to bore someone to death than a book with heaps of description. If I were to pick up a book which started, "I saw a girl on the street. She said hi. I felt cold," then I would put the book down without a second thought. Your description doesn't have to be perfection, drowned in narrations of each intricate detail, for though that may appeal to a very select few, it would be troublesome to write correctly and would
not appeal to more than 3/4 of the modern society. If you feel your writing is becoming bland, paint a picture of the scene in your head and then describe the scene as if it were a school/home school assignment. Do not overdo the description but don't go without.

I hope those were or at least will in some later time assist you. However, as I have told you I will speak upon another writing topic briefly, I will do that now. And that is on finding time to write. Now I know that not everyone is in the same position and some people literally CAN NOT find the time to write, but for most it is just a lame excuse. So here I have compiled a list of ideas to find the time to write.

~Set an alarm for early in the morning- perhaps 4:30 or 5:30 & write the whole morning. I've done the 4:30 & it really helped me make a lot of progress and gave me time to do other things later in the day.

~Write while doing everyday things necessary to life--watching toddlers (I've had to adapt this one LOTS!!!!!!), eating (only do this if you can write/type with one hand fluently and not spill!!!), and any other small things that are a simple part of your everyday life.

~Give up a little bit of your time for writing. In order to have the time to write your book, you are going to have to give up some of your own time. Period.  If you go into writing not expecting to have to give up some time which you would ordinarily spend reading or perhaps *wink* blogging.

~If you accidentally delete a lot of your book do not stress out- write! I have most definitely learned this one from experience and I most fervently wish that someone had given me the tip before. If you stress out for a long time then you are losing vital time! Instead of stressing out, sigh *or release a hasty sob;)* and begin writing again- for in the time you spent stressing out you could have nearly written all that you had recently deleted.

I know I am "certainly definitely absolutely" not the best person to take writing advice from but hopefully these can nonetheless help you in some sort of way, no matter how small. If you have any questions, ideas or thoughts please comment them because I will respond!!!!! Hope this helped you:)

Layla Hughes is a 10 year-old bookworm, second oldest of seven children and is obsessed with anything Arthurian Legend--she's even writing a book about it! She lives near the beaches of California where she tends to her 28 chickens and takes an endless amount of photos. She blogs at AAAAAAAA! with her younger brother and is always welcome to a hearty conversation about books!


  1. Good post, Layla! I like the realistic dialogue part. Very essential. And the picture with the Charlotte Bronte quote - ♥



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