Writing Tips

See helpful articles on writing, by Leslie Adkins-Hall, on the Writing Clips page.

"Keep in mind that learning how to write novels is a process.  It takes a lot of time and infinite labor.  After only a few months of lessons you would be foolish to conclude that you were unfit to become a concert violinist.  With writing novels too, if you have a passion for it, you must give yourself years to practice, to learn to overcome your mistakes, and to prove to yourself that you possess the necessary skills."                        

- Albert Zuckerman

It's okay to write junk - Practice--Practice—Practice. Honor your gift by learning the craft, by perfecting it.

 A Writer is someone who wrote today (procrastination is not honoring your gift).  Just write!

All rules can be broken - Does it work?

If you read two books on writing fiction read:  Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass and Story by Robert McGee.

 The Writers Life:   Solitude vs. Isolation
     -  Nurture Your Self-Esteem - Writing is an emotional roller coaster.  Get support.
     -  Persistence.  Webster defines it as “Continuing in the face of opposition or
         continuing to exist or endure.”  
     -  There is no fame in publishing.  Keep your aspirations humble. 
     -  Work while you're not working--always be thinking about your story.

 Writing is a business.  Be a professional.

 Reading is important.  Be aware--analyze.  Why was it good or bad?  Why did I care?

Get Support:  It's hard to be objective about your own work.  Getting constructive feedback can improve your work (and your attitude). Consider joining (or start your own) critique group.  Assemble other serious writers/people you trust. 

Writing Exercises

You meet a man in a bar in a strange town. He has a cat on his lap, and he orders a cup of coffee, slowly spoons sugar into it. He strokes the cat's black fur and says, "This contact is illusory. The cat and I are separated as though by a pane of glass, because man lives in time, in successiveness, while the magical animal lives in the present, in the eternity of the instant." What do you say back to him? And he to you? What does the cat do? What happened to this man before he came into the bar?

 You are in a waiting room (doctor's office, job interview, etc.). People are sitting more or less in a circle. Describe several of them -- focusing only on their feet! Type of shoes, cleanliness and condition of shoes, toes if they show, how they let their feet rest. Are they quiet or do the feet move? What can you tell about the person from the feet?

 Describe a food, using all your senses. Observe it visually, of course, but also include texture, smell and taste. Describe it again, but in a way that makes it disgusting: how a big juice steak, for example, must appear to a vegetarian.

Write down one end of a telephone conversation of someone in your family or a stranger. Given the ubiquity of cell phones, this should be easy to find.   Next, write the other half of the dialogue, making up the second person's words. Later, continue the dialogue with what came before it and what comes after....

Drama is real life—with the dull parts left out.”  Alfred Hitchcock


A great resource for mystery writers:

A great blog for writers by a literary agent:  http://blog.nathanbransford.com/

A fabulous blog with great advice and insight for writers:  http://noveldog.blogspot.com

Mystery Writers of America
http://www.mysterywriters.org//  (National) 17 East 47th Street, New York, NY

http://www.mwanorthwest.org  (Northwest Chapter)
Local chapter meets monthly usually the second Saturday evening in downtown Seattle area.  Local contact President, Brian Thorton atbthorntonwriter@gmail.com.

Pacific Northwest Writers Association - Seattle
www.pnwa.org Held on a weekend September.  Lots of opportunities to meet with editors and agents.  

Write On The Sound (Sponsored by the Edmonds Arts Commission)
425-771-0228 http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/ArtsCommission/wots.stm
Held the first weekend of October.  Two days, reasonable fee, contest and professional critique.

Willamette Writers Conference - Portland, Oregon
First weekend in August. http://www.willamettewriters.com/wwc/

Write In The Harbor
First weekend in November. Tacoma Community College - Gig Harbor.

Richard Hugo House - Seattle
Phone: (206) 322-7030         Fax: (206) 320-8767
E-mail: admin@hugohouse.org

Romance Writers Association 

Seattle Chapter:  http://www.gsrwa.org/  Meets 1st Saturday of the month.
Eastside Chapter:  http://eastsiderwa.org/ Meets at Newport Library. 
You MUST be a member of the Romance Writers of America national organization.   Go to www.rwanational.org.

www.rejectioncollection.com - Allows writers to vent their frustrations over rejections