Started out at creative writing but have no idea what to do next? Don’t worry; it’s very simple to improve your creative writing and grow it to the next level. Everyone has some tips and tricks in his/her sleeve; some work and some don’t. In this post, you will learn:
- 1. Why reading up on grammar, spelling and punctuation is the sign of a good writer
2. The myth of proof reading and editing, and how to debunk it
3. Why your first draft won’t be up to scratch, and why revising works
4. And why getting rid of flowery prose, adverbs and unnecessary adjectives is good
So, without any further ado, here we go!
Read up on Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation
Before you get offended for me saying such a suggestion, let me elaborate. There are some common misspellings found on the internet; two such lists are found here and here. “It’s and its”, “there and their”, “loose and lose” and so on. So if you make such a common mistake, people will see you as an amateur.
Grammar mistakes are as common as spelling mistakes. Some new school people say go ahead and break the grammar rules. That may be good advice for a few of them (for example, you should break the no sentence ending with a preposition rule and you’re perfectly free to begin a sentence with ‘and’ and ‘but’ if it appeals to you).
But not all grammar rules were made by stodgy people, and most make sense. If it appeals to you to break them, go ahead, but you must know the reason why you broke it in the first place, and why it wasn’t appropriate. If you don’t know that you broke a rule or why, your credibility goes out of the window.
In the same way, people make punctuation mistakes often without realizing that they did it. The confusion between “me, myself and I”, the improper and incorrect use of the apostrophe (some people have campaigned for its being banned since it causes so much confusion among people) etc has become rapidly larger and larger.
So that is why, if you really want to become a credible writer who is not governed by the rules, go read up on grammar, spelling and punctuation. A single book or two will clear confusions, enable to break rules knowing why you broke them, consciously following sensible rules and more.
Tip: – Don’t rely on Microsoft Word’s Grammar Checker. Its spell check is all right, but the grammar tool is atrocious. Many has been the time that it shows up its infamous green line under my words and calls out for incorrect and so called grammatically correct changes. Have you ever seen a “Fragment (consider revising)” call to change? It’s perfectly all right to ignore that, because you’re not writing a textbook, you’re a creative writer.
Debunk the myth of editing and proof reading
Most creative writers hate the task of editing and proof reading. There are a thousand excuses to avoid it. “It saps my creativity.” “I like my writing as it is.” “I don’t want to correct errors and mistakes.”
Some excuses are pretty funny… I mean, not wanting to correct mistakes! And although some people seem to just hate the words, they’re actually pretty necessary in the world of creative writing.
Proof reading corrects mistakes so that they won’t happen again. You can actually hire a proof reader if you don’t like to edit your own work, but my opinion is that you should at least make a first edit and then hand it to the editor. The editor will suggest changes. Some of them will be for the better, but you won’t like some of them. That’s because everyone has different tastes. If you proof read your own work, you’ll be a better creative writer. How?
Because you’ll see what mistakes you made before, and your brain will know not to do them again. By repeating this process time and time again, you’ll begin to make fewer mistakes and learn more about style and language. By doing this, you are growing your writing to the next level with proof reading.
Further reading: Editing and Proof Reading: Busting the Myths
Revise your first draft to make it shine
So you’ve written something. Full. You’re happy. You’re ready to show it to the world. You’re ready to say “I’ve written something and it’s good.”
My advice: stop. Your first draft won’t be much good. You might have the greatest plot and characters in history, and your scenery and everything may be perfect. But still… that first draft is only rough, unpolished wood. If you want to make something of it, you’re going to have to revise it until it shines.
Revising does include proof reading and editing, but it is much more than that. It takes any time from a week to months. Editing for structure. For flow. For holes. For cutting a lot of prose. For characters and setting. For better plot.
When all of that editing is done, you’ve then completed the mammoth task of revising. If you’ve done it wisely, then the wood ought to be polished, it ought to shine like gold. And it will too, if you’ve got a great work in the first place.
Get rid of flowery prose, unnecessary adjectives and adverbs
Most of the time, adjectives and adverbs aren’t necessary. Want an example? You got it:
1. He ate his food quickly.
2. He gulped down his food.
Which of the two is better? If you’re like most people, you’ll say no. 2. That’s because it uses a strong verb rather than relying upon an adverb. Same goes for an adjective, and if you want flowery prose, you can place your work in the “Literary” genre but few people will come read it. Best to make sentences short, simple and punchy. And cut all unnecessary adjectives and adverbs.
You should always look for ways to improve your writing regardless of how good it is today. That’s a habit of famous authors, and the sign of a great creative writer.
Have Your Say
What did you think I missed? Anything to add? Share it in the comments.
Read Common Mistakes Made by Creative Writers for Part II of this post. This post is the seventh instalment in the Creative Writing 101 series. View the series index. Subscribe to Writers’ Treasure today.