How To Boost Your Writing
If you want to give your writing a quick and easy boost, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a top 10 of writing tips I give most often. What I love about these is they’re straightforward and easy to implement. You can start doing them all TODAY! Ready? Let’s go …
1) Start Anywhere
Writing a whole screenplay or novel from start to finish can seem insurmountable. But what if I told you that you DON’T have to write in chronological order? Just start anywhere. GOGOGO!
2) Bullet Point It
Lots of writers freak out about outlining. They might say outlines kill spontaneity, or it’s so boring it demotivates them. But outlining can be anything … so why not bullet point yours? You’ll be surprised how quick and easy this is.
3) Plot Backwards
Screenwriting veteran Billy Wilder said that if you have a problem in Act 3, your issue is Act 1. So give your writing a boost by STARTING with your ending. That’s right … plot backwards! More, next.
4) Draw The Story
If you find plotting is difficult but also hate outlining, draw the story instead. Creating a visual representation of your story can really help you spot inconsistencies and gaps in your plotting. Download the free B2W worksheet (and see lots of other visual representations) HERE.
5) Use Brackets
Find that you’re grinding to a halt when you’re drafting, or outlining? No problem. Simply use brackets, like @Massawyrm suggests here:
In case you don’t know, Massawyrm is C. Robert Cargill. He wrote Blumhouse Horror classic Sinister and Marvel’s Doctor Strange. In other words, he knows his stuff!
6) Leave Dialogue ‘Til Last
Writers have lots of problems with dialogue. Maybe you find dialogue hard … Or maybe you have a tendency to overwrite dialogue, letting scenes and chapters run away with you?
No problem. Boost your writing by writing ‘[INSERT DIALOGUE HERE]’ and concentrating on the visuals, storyworld and characterisation instead. Then come back later and add those lines of dialogue. You’ll be amazed by the difference this makes.
7) Kill All /lys/ & /ings/
Uber-author Stephen King advised writers to ‘kill all adverbs’ – those pesky /ly/ words. Take it from me as a script reader: the average spec screenplay or unpublished novel has FAR too many /ly/ words. Screenwriters and authors alike can benefit from this advice and boost their writing.
Screenwriters would do well to avoid the present continuous tense too. It’s this that creates those annoying /ing/ words. Make sure you’re using the present simple instead.
8) Check What’s Gone Before
I hear a LOT of pitches that sound like stories I have read or watched before. Inevitably, when I ask the writers how theirs is different, they will answer with, ‘I haven’t read/watched that’. Noooooooo!
Boost your writing by immersing yourself in your chosen genre. Identify stories *like* yours and work out how yours is ‘the same … but different’.
Yes, yes you can’t know every single story, but don’t be lazy. Research like hell, because it WILL help your writing. Sites like The Bookseller, Publisher’s Weekly, DoneDeal and IMDB make this EASY!
10) Kill All FILLERS
Lots of stories have what B2W calls ‘fillers’ in them … Those actions and behaviours that don’t advance the story, or reveal character. Instead, those moments are just marking time. YAWN!
The most common are walking, running, eating and drinking. Obviously all of these *can* work … But ONLY if they advance the story and/or reveal character. For more on avoiding fillers …
10) Use A ‘Baseline’
Whether you are writing a spec screenplay or novel, it’s a great idea to start with a preliminary logline for your story. B2W calls this a ‘baseline’. This can be a really powerful tool, as it creates a foundation for your draft. Using a baseline means you can check whether …
- there’s any concept mistakes at grass roots level
- your story has evolved, or you’ve gone wildly off-road with it
- if you actually have two stories in there (happens A LOT!)
You can also send to your peers and check whether it feels generic or a rehash, too. Writing a baseline can save you a world of pain as well as boost your writing. Grab the B2W logline cheat sheet, HERE.