Learning! — Writing Basics (315)

When people get into writing, whatever the genre, there’s a lot to consider. Obviously, since it’s an entire field of study and there’s so many ways things that are important, it can be a little daunting for some people! That being said, let me talk about a few things an aspiring author might want to consider when tackling their first project, be it a novel, fanfiction, whatever.

First things first, the most important thing is to write. It should be obvious, but it’s worth saying. You can’t just do hundreds of hours of research and then write a pristine novel. That’s just not how it works. To write quality stuff, you need practice.

The upside of that, is that you can learn so much from just writing. Practice will make you intuitively learn how to write better, and while research and actively learning things is important, practice can show you those things firsthand.

So, since you need a lot of practice, you need to find out a way to make it as enjoyable as possible. Just write down whatever you want to write about. If you’ve got this awesome battle-climax at the end of a novel in your head, but you’re not quite sure how the characters get to that point, who cares? Write that battle! It doesn’t have to be good to anyone else. You’ll enjoy writing it because those characters can be doing awesome things in your head. In the end, that’s what’s important when you’re practicing. You don’t have to worry about whether those awesome things are being translated into other people’s heads, too.

Once you get some stuff written, you may or may not want people to read it. Either way, that’s fine! In my personal experience, you shouldn’t expect pretty much anyone to actually read it. A lot of people feign interest or respond positively to your stuff to be polite, but nobody wants to read your stuff. Heck, nobody wants to read my stuff. But again, that’s fine. Remember, your primary goal is to practice and learn how to put sentences together properly. Trust me, it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

When you’re going back to edit the stuff that you’ve written, there’s actually more than one way to edit things. Very generally speaking, there’s what I call “line editing” vs. “content editing”. Line editing is going and cleaning up the actual words. Fixing sentences and changing descriptions to make the words on the page more cohesive. Content editing is going back, changing, adding, removing actual parts of the story to be more consistent, remove continuity errors, add dialogue, that sort of thing.

For an aspiring author, it’s important to learn both of these. Learn what grammar mistakes you have a habit of making, or learn where your weak points are in story structure (mine is setting descriptions). Honestly, though, don’t worry about making rigorous edits to stuff you’ve written. Your primary focus should simply be to get more written! You need to know what your weaknesses are, though, so you can write stuff with that sort of thing in mind. If you know you’re bad at giving descriptions of settings, just keep that in mind and remember to be more thorough on the next thing you write. Never get stuck constantly improving the same chapter/story over and over again, because that’s not where true growth lies.

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