Diana Anderson-Tyler

Two Surefire Ways to Bore Your Readers – Part I: Skimping on Conflict

Two Surefire Ways to Bore Your Readers

 

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, it’s critical to remember that part of what readers want from your book is entertainment. That is why storytelling has endured as one of the most beloved arts, from the oral traditions that gave us The Iliad and The Odyssey to the latest Marvel movie playing at your local cinema. Jesus Christ, not surprisingly, knew the power of a good story, as He famously used parables to illustrate life-changing, spiritual truths.

Do you suppose Homer’s The Odyssey would still be read in high school English classes if its hero, Odysseus, experienced smooth sailing instead of the vicious wrath of Poseidon and countless other larger-than-life obstacles? Would the Avengers and X-Men be as compelling without the high stakes, special suits, and spectacular special effects? Would Jesus’ parables, though they lacked the fantastical elements of myth and CGI, be as memorable and penetrating without their bold characters and rich symbolism?

No matter your genre, be it Sci-Fi, Romance, or Memoir, there are two surefire way to stop your readers from turning the page. The first one is…

A Shortage of Conflict

 

Without Scylla and Charybdis and other nightmarish monsters, Odysseus’ voyage would have been just another Carnival cruise. If there had been no bad guys for Iron Man to fight, he’d just be a narcissistic gazillionaire with cool toys. If the Prodigal Son had never left home to squander his inheritance and make a lot of mistakes, he’d just be another son. And your main character will be mediocre at best and boring at worst if you don’t drop some storm clouds into his sky.

Blog on Creating Conflict for Your Characters

 

To date, I’ve published six non-fiction books, and though they don’t feature any superheroes or Olympic deities, there is still plenty of conflict. Why? Because my personal testimony is teeming with it! Anorexia, binge-eating disorder, depression, obsession, low self-esteem, paralyzing pride…these words all describe the battle I fought, conquered, and now help others claim victory over through my writing. If I just wrote about fitness and faith without sharing my struggles, I wouldn’t connect with readers because readers, as humans, empathize with the challenges, fears, and heartaches of life.

Conflict is often hard to achieve in one’s writing because all of us tend to avoid conflict in real life, which is why most main characters (a.k.a., “the good guys” we most sympathize with) don’t go looking for trouble – they’re like us. I didn’t go out seeking to become dangerously skinny or develop an addiction to exercise. Odysseus didn’t ask to be captured by Polyphemus the Cyclops. The Avengers, in the most recent Marvel movie, didn’t ask to be ripped apart by ideological differences. The Prodigal Son didn’t leave home looking for a pig pen to wallow in. But trials are what brought about my and these characters’ change, and change is what reveals the core message of a story.

Most of us go out of our way to avoid confrontation, but to craft a story readers will stick with ‘til the end, we must create it for our fictional characters and explore it for our non-fiction ones.

If you’re writing fiction, here are a few tips to ensure you’re including plenty of conflict:

Treat Every Scene Like a Mini Story

Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end, that is, an inciting incident that sparks the action, a riveting midpoint, and a climax. Structure every single scene (and I mean every scene!) with these three points in mind.

What immediate action kicks off the scene (inciting incident)? What springs the main character of the scene into action (midpoint)? What’s the decisive moment at the end to which all the dialogue and action leads (climax)? If you can divide your scene into these three distinct parts, you can be almost positive you’ve got conflict!

Notice I used the word “action” a lot! Make your three scene points dynamic, full of lively verbs and sensory details that will pull the reader in.

Fun Fact: Climax is a Greek term meaning “ladder.”

 

Up Your Dialogue Game

What’s more interesting to read?:

“Do you feel like going to a movie?”

“Sure. I’d love to.”

OR….

“Do you feel like going to a movie?”

“Is that your idea of a romantic evening?”

 

The first example is flat and dull. The information is just filler material, indicating laziness on the writer’s part. If the information is really necessary to the story, it can easily be inserted through narrative, not dialogue. For example, “They grabbed a bite to eat and went to an early movie.”

In the second example, we receive a healthy helping of conflict in just eight words. Obviously, Character #2 is a wee bit resentful of Person #1. From all appearances, this is a couple in the midst of a rough patch. This snippet of dialogue helps enhance the emotional tone of the scene and shapes the characters; Character #1 seems to be making an effort, and Character #2 is having none of it.

Here are a few other examples of conflict-filled dialogue, using the same first line:

“Do you feel like going to a movie?”

“And being brainwashed by subliminal messages? No thanks.”

OR…

 

“Do you feel like going to a movie?”

“As long as it’s rated G. Even PG movies make me sick to my stomach these days.”

OR…

 

“Do you feel like going to a movie?”

“I left the house last week. I’m not ready to go out again.”

OR…

 

“Do you feel like going to a movie?”

“I’d rather hang by my toes and listen to nails on a chalkboard for two hours.”

Example of creating conflict through dialogue

 

Use Clear, Precise Language

Your word choice is responsible for painting a picture in the reader’s mind. But really great writers don’t just paint pictures, they film movies, adding movement and sound and taste and touch to their work.

Be deliberate about every syllable you write. Don’t just say, as E. L. Doctorow once noted, that it is raining, but describe the “feeling of being rained upon.”

Instead of saying dark or black, what about obsidian?

Instead of gun, what about a Chewser pistol or a Ruger?

Instead of dog, why not say it was a spunky Labradoodle or a moody Pug?

You get the idea. Think outside the box, avoid clichés (don’t say, “think outside the box” for example!), use the active voice (“I love writing” instead of “Writing is loved by me,” for example), and have fun selecting the just-right word for your settings, actions, and character descriptions.

 

Employ Opposite Emotions

“Opposites attract” is a well known saying, but while it may not always prove true in relationships, it is always true in storytelling.

In a good story, characters’ emotions never line up perfectly. Even in romantic comedies, the love interests are unequal.

For example, in the Katherine Heigl/James Marsden movie 27 Dresses, Heigl’s character, a perennial bridesmaid, is targeted as an article topic for Marsden to advance his career as a journalist. She is a romantic and he is a cynic, and yet they fall in love. And in one of my all-time favorites, 10 Things I Hate About You, Julia Stiles is a studious, anti-social shrew who falls for Heath Ledger’s bad boy character, Patrick. Her stubbornness and unapproachable air pairs perfectly with his own irresistible brand of rebellion.

These differing emotions will add dramatic energy to your scenes. Conflict is drama, after all! Make sure emotions are ever changing and ever conflicting with those of other characters, and always relate the emotions to the core need or motivation of your characters.

Blog on Creating Conflict in Your Fiction and Non-Fiction

 

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! I’ll be back next week for Part II! Until then, comment below with how you’ve been making life tough for your characters in your current work in progress! Or tweet me at @dandersontyler!

Diana Anderson-Tyler writing blog

PS: My newest non-fiction book is FREE on Kindle today through Saturday! You can check it out here!

perfect-fit-couples-FLAT

Top 3 Tips for Writing Your Non-Fiction Book

Top 3 Tips for Writing Your Non-Fiction Book by Diana Anderson-Tyler

“Everyone has a book inside of them – but it doesn’t do any good until you pry it out.” – Jodi Picoult

 

Have you ever been in conversation with someone and, after listening to them share a story about themselves, said: “You should write a book on that!”? Or, have you perhaps thought to yourself, “That could be in a movie!”?

I’d be willing to bet that the answer to that is yes. I’d also wager that it’s happened multiple times throughout your life.

We hear fantastic stories all the time, some extraordinary tales of risk and adventure, and others poignant memoirs of grief, hopelessness, or a broken heart. Some sound more like fast-paced thrillers that keep you nervously munching on handfuls of popcorn, while others are slower, more leisurely, like a hot bubble bath you could soak in for hours. No matter their genre, many of the stories we hear from people we know draw us in, entertaining, challenging, and inspiring, just as much as blockbuster films and bestselling books do. The only difference is they’re not written down.

3 Tips for Writing Your Non-Fiction Book by Diana Anderson-Tyler

There are many factors that prevent great stories from ever making it onto the notepad or word processor. Fear of failure and rejection, feelings of inadequacy, a lack of confidence, uncomfortableness with being vulnerable, and unfamiliarity with the writing process are but a few of the reasons why millions of incredible stories remain hidden, reserved only for friends and family.

Today, if you know there’s a book inside of you just waiting to be pried out, I’d like to share my top three tips for taking the leap and writing your incomparable, one-of-a-kind story one heartfelt word at a time.

I.  Ask Yourself, “What’s My Topic, and Why Would Anyone Care About It?”

As a teenager, I was inspired to write my first faith-based fitness book because I believed it was a topic other young women would be interested in reading. Why did I believe this? Because friends, acquaintances, even strangers I’d just met, seemed to enjoy hearing about it and wanted to learn more. “Faith-based fitness? What’s that?” “You had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise? How did you overcome it?”

It was a unique idea, at the time, to combine biblical principles with the habits and routines of an active lifestyle. After my personal battles with anorexia and binge-eating disorder, I had learned a great deal about depression, obsession, vanity, pride, surrender, and balance, and saw a niche that I, as a Christian woman passionate about fitness, could fill.

What makes you the ideal person to write this story? What unique circumstances, trials, sicknesses, or setbacks have taught you invaluable lessons from which others can learn? What benefits will your book provide? Make sure you have more than just a sad, amusing, or off-the-wall story – make it a must-have for your audience, full of applicable, practical takeaways.

II. Assess Your Content

It’s important to determine whether your story has enough material with which to fill an entire book. If you have a story about a summer in Paris in which the only eventful thing that happened was seeing a man streak across the Louvre before taking a selfie in front of the Mona Lisa, it’s likely it would make a better blog, short story, or article in a humor magazine. The main reasons for this are, for one, you were a passive witness to the event and didn’t personally know the brazen individual, and for two, there are no perceivable lessons that can add value to readers…except for maybe a single paragraph on the subject of capturing potentially viral footage for YouTube in record speed.

To make sure the literary object rattling around in your gut is indeed a full-length book, I recommend mind mapping (sounds woo-woo, but it’s not!). Mind mapping involves, like the name suggests, mapping your book with the ol’ noggin, starting with the main idea, the map’s center, and working outward as ideas branch off from one another in a creative, organic fashion. This is much more fun than ordinary notetaking, in my opinion.

Simply sit down with a piece of paper and a pen (or multiple pens – even crayons if you like!), and form a circle with the title of your Big Idea in the middle. Next, simply let your subconscious loose to explore any potential points that could be discussed and elaborated on in your book. Connect these subtopics to your Big Idea with lines, and then give your subtopics their own mini ideas! Make sure each topic relates to the overarching Big Idea in some way.

When you’re finished, you’ll be able to judge whether you have enough content. Plus, you’ll already have a first draft of an outline to guide you as you write!

 

III. Outline (Though It’s Tempting, Do Not Skip This Step!)

A writer’s outline is like an architect’s blueprint. Write without it, and you could very well wind up with a flimsy and forgettable sandcastle rather than a sturdy and spectacular palace.

While some writers prefer to compose outlines that are as long as War and Peace, this certainly isn’t necessary. For each of my non-fiction books to date, I simply wrote a 3-5 sentence paragraph for each chapter. Under the paragraph, I included a bulleted list that would later prompt me to make specific points and flesh out particular ideas or anecdotes.

Not only will an outline keep you on track while writing, it will also come in handy when you write your proposal for agents and publishers, the majority of whom will ask for a chapter-by-chapter rundown of your book.

Outlining will, like mind mapping, help you to focus your story, developing a clear picture of your message and what you most wish to convey.

 

I hope you found these tips helpful and that they’ve inspired you to sit down and get to work on your story! If you have any questions, tips, or comments, please drop a line below or tweet me @dandersontyler. I’d love to connect!

 

Diana Anderson-Tyler writing blog

PS: My latest non-fiction book Perfect Fit: Couples Edition is now available in paperback and ebook formats on Amazon! You can check it out here!

Perfect Fit Couples Edition

What You Need in Your Writing Toolbox: A Strong Vocabulary

Why Having a Strong Vocabulary is a Must for Writers

I have a confession (but you can’t tell my husband!): For many years now, I’ve had an ongoing love affair….

With words!

Okay, so it’s not exactly an incriminating confession, unless being nerdy is a crime. But logophilia, believe it or not, is a real, albeit harmless obsession, one we can use to our advantage as wordsmiths!

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved collecting new, exotic-sounding – and sometimes funny-sounding – words like they were colorful seashells or precious gems. Instead of doodling pictures of dogs and cats and bunny rabbits, I used to love sloppily scribbling down any old word ad nauseam, which eventually led to full sentences and childish tales. Even now, one of the great delights I experience while reading is stumbling across unfamiliar words and expressions that introduce me to wonderful ways to imagine, think, and describe anything from the mundane act of drinking coffee to the thrilling feat of soaring on  the back of a griffin (which I wrote about in my first novel, Moonbow).

I realize there are two kinds of readers, and therefore, two kinds of writers: the kind who appreciate vast, challenging vocabularies, and those who like to keep things simple.[1] While I personally get a bit peeved – not to mention terribly distracted – when every other sentence contains lofty vocabulary words that trip up my mental tongue as I read along, I do enjoy the judicious sprinkling of literary jewels such as “meretricious,” “blet,” “glaucous,” and “chrism.” When reading on my Kindle, it takes no time at all to hover over the unknown word and view its definition. If I’m reading a hard copy, I simply highlight the word and dog-ear its page to look up later.

As a writer, part of what makes my job fun – and certainly challenging, too – is finding original ways to set scenes, describe characters, and express ideas. Granted, not all of this comes down to whether one has an extensive vocabulary or not, but it sure makes the job a lot easier. For instance, in Dunamis, my current work-in-progress, my main characters are in Hades (that’s right – the underworld!) quite a bit, so having words in my toolbox other than “hot” and “unpleasant” was tremendously beneficial.

In the book I’m reading now by K.M. Weiland titled Dreamlander, I love that the author avoids using tired clichés and predictable adjectives when describing her world’s flora and mythical creatures. Even though Weiland and I refrain from using a plethora of words that are alien to our readers, employing the ones we do with focused, laser-like precision is a skill developed over time as we’ve dedicated ourselves to building an arsenal of words to draw upon. It’s one thing to know that “thorny,” “complex,” “intricate,” and “tricky” are all synonymous with “difficult,” and quite another thing to know which one best belongs in a given sentence.

Power of Vocabulary_Diana Anderson-Tyler

If you want to bulk up your vocabulary, here are some tips that I personally use and recommend:

Mark Unknown Words as You Read

As I mentioned earlier, don’t feel obligated to look up words as you read, as doing so may distract you from the story. But do highlight or take a picture of the word with your phone so you remember to find out its meaning later.

Record the New Words

When you come across new words, store them somewhere where you can readily access them for reviewing purposes. Looking at their definition once will not lock it safe in your brain!

I keep seasonal notes in my iPhone. For example, write now I’m adding to my “Spring Vocab’ note. On June 20th, I’ll create one just for “Summer Vocab.” I try to study the current list every day, and then transfer it to a Word Document when the season ends. In addition, I also have a “Dunamis Vocab” list that features words that could possibly be included in my work in progress.

Study the New Words

Remember pop quizzes in school? Well, to really get these fancy words to stick in your memory, we have to study them as if we’re going to be tested. Every night after I read for pleasure, I read just once through my vocab list, which, depending on its length, takes about five minutes. An even better way to learn them is to try and use one or two new words the next time you sit down to write!

Get an App and/or Take Online Quizzes

I recently downloaded the Vocabulary Builder app from Magoosh (I believe it’s only on iOS). It features 1200 words in a multiple-choice format with basic, intermediate, and advanced sections! I open this app when I’m bored waiting at the dentist’s office, the grocery store checkout line, in between sets of squats at the gym, etc.!  I also love the Merriam-Webster vocab quizzes!

Subscribe to “A. Word. A. Day”

Check out wordsmith.org/awad to sign up to receive a daily Vocabulary Word based on the current week’s theme. This week’s theme is “Words That Appear Misspelled” and has included words such as “gapeseed” and “windrow.” So fun!

 

I want to leave you with this quote from AWAD’s founder, Anu Garg:

“But each word helps to create the tone of the story, set the mood, build the atmosphere, and illustrate the characters’ sense of angor.”

All it takes to make “word” a weapon is to add an “s” to the beginning. Let words be the sword that delivers hard-hitting images, intriguing dialogue, as well as penetrating truths and poignancy to your prose.

By the way, the noun “angor,” according to today’s AWAD email, means,“ extreme anguish or mental distress.”

“But each word helps to create the tone of the story, set the mood, build the atmosphere, and illustrate the characters’ sense of angor.”

 

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you enjoy learning new words as you read? I’d love to hear your opinion, as well as any tips and tricks you have for beefing up your vocab! Leave a comment below or tweet me at @dandersontyler!

Diana Anderson-Tyler writing blog

[1] I recently put down a very popular book because its vocabulary was dull and words were too often repeated.

The 5 Steps of Storytelling

The 5 Steps of Storytelling by Diana Anderson-Tyler

 

One of my favorite personal writing rituals is watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts on the subject of – you guessed it – writing![1] Yesterday, I found a wonderful 17-minute TED Talk featuring British author Simon Van Booy. I jotted down a few notes, which you will find below, and felt inspired to expound based on my own experience.

As a disclaimer, I will say that following these steps is by no means mandatory. Writers are nothing if not non-conformist and a wee bit eccentric, so expecting us to stick to a pre-determined set of rules is a ludicrous notion to begin with. However, as you read and consider Mr. Van Booy’s take on the writing process, perhaps you’ll discover the remedy for a current bout of writer’s block, be motivated to consecrate a special space solely for your storytelling, or feel a wave of relief when you realize that plot and characterization are not the mystifying monsters so many writing teachers and “experts” proclaim them to be.

Step I: Establish Time, Place, and Conditions

Form a writing routine that is exclusively yours. Before you start your week, look at your calendar and firmly decide on which days and at what times you are going to write. And, as you would a doctor’s appointment or other significant occasion, respect it and stick to it, no matter what pops up (within reason, of course…)!

Next, pick a place to settle into, where you can invite your muse to visit on a regular basis. Van Booy believes this should be somewhere reserved only for writing, such as a private room or section of the dinner table. Personally, I write on a super-comfy sofa, the same one on which I read, relax, scroll through Facebook, and watch movies with my husband. If you have trouble switching gears from playtime to work time and are easily distracted, then I think finding a writing-only location is in order.

Finally, do your best to set the writing mood. Maybe you like to sit near an open window or outside on the porch. Or perhaps there’s a certain candle you like to burn or music you prefer listening to. Realize, of course, that even when conditions aren’t perfect, you can still have an excellent writing session. I’m of the opinion that if the fiction you’re writing about hasn’t drawn you out of your reality and into its world, it might be that dreaded “B” word…Boring! You writing should so thrill and captivate you that you quickly tune out your surroundings.

5 Steps of Storytelling by Diana Anderson-Tyler

Step II: Don’t Read Anything You Don’t Love

I love this one! Remember, part of our job description as writers is “reads a lot!!!” Reading not only teaches us, it inspires us and fans the flames of our love for literature. Reading should never – unless you’re in school – make you miserable. Read something that, as Van Booy put it, “makes you tremble” because of how exciting you find it. If you’re not reading what you like, you won’t be inspired, which is a major disadvantage if you’re wanting to pen inspiring stories.

Step III: Sketching

My mom, an art major and former art teacher, is always sketching! Whether she’s in church (busted!), on the phone (busted again!), or anywhere near a tree, a garden, or a person’s profile, she’s making art and/or getting ideas for future projects. Writers should be no different.

While you can certainly schedule “inspiration outings” for yourself, in which you purposefully venture off in search of inspiring people or thought-provoking stories, you don’t have to do anything more elaborate than simply being aware of your surroundings and ready to take notes at any given time. Have a notepad (I use my iPhone) on hand to record anything – and I mean anything – that could serve you in your writing. I write down everything from book title ideas and plot twists to facial features and vocabulary words!

If you don’t know what to write about, “sketching” is an excellent way to generate ideas. After a few days of observing and notetaking, sit down and transcribe everything into your computer and see what catches fire in your imagination.

Step IV: Create Characters and Plot

“Easy.” That’s what Mr. Van Booy had to say about the notoriously nerve-racking and complicated process of concocting characters and the plot in which they’re embroiled. “Don’t let people overcomplicate this for you,” he said. Then he proceeded to tell this story:

“‘A man walks into a Chinese restaurant.’” He stopped himself because clearly this scene is already dull as dishwater. To make it come alive, he called upon someone he knows – his uncle Martin, to be precise – so as to inject his character with an invigorating dose of realism. He used his familiarity with Martin’s appearance and mannerisms to create a character whom readers can visualize and with whom, eventually, they can empathize. Writers, Van Booy said, “describe something real because it is real!” In other words, writers aren’t making things up, or not everything, anyway; “they’re simply taking bits from real life and weaving it together, and getting rid of the seams.”

When it comes to plot, Van Booy used the image of a string of pearls to illustrate the structure of a novel. Each pearl represents a chapter of your manuscript, and “each chapter is a major scene” in your protagonist’s life. You’re not telling their whole life’s story, only the crucial, conflict-riddled pieces of it, which together show the sweeping arc of your character’s evolution. As you did with characterization, you will draw from your real-life experiences and journeys, both physical and emotional, even spiritual, to lend to your novel an added dimension of believability, truth, and poignancy.

Step V: Rewrite, Revise, Edit

After you’ve strung all your pearls together, it’s time to make that necklace shine as brilliantly as possible. The editing process commences with the toughest and most painful exercise: rewriting. Read through your manuscript and pay careful attention to each and every pearl. “If you can take away a pearl and it’s still intact,” said Van Booy, “then you’ve found a superfluous chapter. If you take away a pearl and the rest of the string collapses … it’s good … because every chapter needs to drive the narrative forward.” Rewriting usually calls for extreme surgery on your first draft. Entire chapters, characters, and subplots may be eliminated, and that’s okay! Unnecessary elements will only slow and weigh your story down. If it makes it any easier, tell yourself that what you dispose of can be recycled into another book. 😉

Revising doesn’t require as much of an overhaul as rewriting does. This may consist of shifting scenes around and tightening the pace. Certain scenes may require more depth, dialogue, or description, or perhaps less!

Editing is the final polish. Don your Grammar Police hat and have a ball correcting every run-on sentence and comma splice! If you did a thorough job in the revising and rewriting stages, this part will virtually be a breeze!

5 Steps of Storytelling by Diana Anderson-Tyler

 

There you have it: five easy-to-follow steps to help you reach a finished work of literary art! Which ones do you find helpful? Which, if any, do you disagree with? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below or tweeting me @dandersontyler!

 

 

Diana Anderson-Tyler writing blog

[1] I like to listen to something in the morning while I’m putting on my makeup and cooking breakfast, before I sit down to write.

5 Must-Follow Rules for Writers

5 Must-Follow Rules for Writers by Diana Anderson-Tyler

 

Hello, logophiles! A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon my dusty, dog-eared copy of Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul and, craving a bit of encouragement from fellow authors, decided to read one or two of its stories per night. I can’t tell you how inspiring it has been! Reading about how other writers have overcome obstacles, conquered fears, handled rejection, and found their voices has been tremendously invigorating. Today, I want to talk about one such story written by Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior and The Life You Were Born to Live.[1]

Millman opens his essay by explaining that he was known not as an aspiring writer growing up, but as a promising gymnast. Toward the end of his college career, he discovered that writing to him wasn’t pure drudgery – he actually liked it! (A sure sign you’re a writer is when being assigned a research paper or short story is more exciting than Christmas morning.) Not knowing much about storytelling, Millman signed up for a correspondence course to learn the basics. “The rest,” he writes, “would depend on my willingness to rewrite and rewrite again until I got it just … write.”

Millman then transitions into what I found to be the most resonating aspect of his piece, something that I believe every writer can learn from:

“Training in gymnastics had taught me that elbow grease mattered far more than genetic gifts; that talent was made, not just born … I learned to break large tasks into manageable steps – and applied the lessons of sport to the field of writing.”

If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you know that raw talent only gets you so far. There are countless gifted writers whose words will never meet a single reader’s eyes because they don’t have the tenacity, discipline, and “elbow grease” necessary to advance from amateur to professional. Writing is only one facet of being a writer. Researching, outlining, rewriting, editing, querying, marketing, social-media engaging (yes, social media is a must for modern writers!), brainstorming and reading may not be as fun as writing blissfully by the seat of your pants, but it’s what professional writers, who take their work seriously, do.

For Mr. Millman, gymnastics taught him invaluable lessons that translated seamlessly into his role as Writer. Over the years, those lessons were distilled into the following five indispensable rules:

Show Up: Sit in the chair in front of your laptop or writing pad. Treat your daily writing time like it’s the most important appointment or business meeting of your life!

Pay Attention: Appeal to all five senses when you write. Doing this will draw the reader in and make your world come to life. Read your writing back to yourself, then notice the weaknesses and improve them as best you can before hiring an editor.

Tell Your Truth: Write the way the Good Lord created you to. Write the stories that are percolating inside you, the ones that keep you up at night and distract you during the day. There is no other person on the face of the planet who can write the way you can – don’t take that for granted!

Do Your Best: Rewrite repeatedly! Then, set the manuscript aside for a while – perhaps as long as a month or two! – before doing an even better draft.

Don’t Be Attached to Outcomes: You can’t control what an agent, publisher, book reviewer, spouse or friend thinks about your book baby. The effort itself is a success you should be proud of. Millman reminds us that “Not even Michael Jordan could control whether he made a basket – only whether he took the shot.” Every shot we take increases our chances of sinking literary baskets.

I hope those rules will be helpful to you in your writing journey! What’s your current favorite piece of writing advice? Which of today’s rules do you think you’ll find most beneficial? Please comment below or tweet me @dandersontyler. I’d love to hear it!

Diana Anderson-Tyler writing blog

 

 

 

[1] http://www.peacefulwarrior.com/

Scroll To Top