Get Writing

Help Text For Those Considering Writing But Don’t Know How Or Where To Begin.

This page is specifically written for those who would like to put something in writing.

It is not because I think that I know it all because frankly I know that I do not, but I do know that when I began to write I certainly could have used some help, by help I mean just how you should start, even these real basics would have helped me.

The first element of writing without doubt should be, get it clear in your mind what you want to write about and then take pen and paper and draw up a structure for your story.

It may not be a story but factual material even so you still need to structure it, no point in going from one thing to another and confusing your reader because they may lose interest.

By structure it is meant, first think is this fiction or is it fact, then after that decision make a list of just what you intend to include in your writing.

You choose fact: Structure applies here but more important than that is to get your facts right, it is absolutely no good telling someone something in a story and then when they might look for further information on the subject matter, what you have written is inconsistent with the facts.

Your story should flow from one subject to the other and try not to keep going back and forth, write down the details of your characters so that later you do not contradict yourself.

People or places mentioned in your work need to be clearly defined and totally accurate, think too there are laws to protect people against what is written about them, if the information you give is of a sensitive nature then be very careful what you say, do not let what you say come back and bite you!

It is no good saying something because you heard it, for example if the only proof of what you say is your own uncorroborated word, that then becomes your word against the person of whom you are writing, a very tricky situation.

So with factual writing to sum up: be careful what you say and who you say it about be accurate with times, places and all detail associated with the subject matter and most importantly ‘don’t make up what you are not sure of in a factual article’

You choose fiction: Again here get the structure of your story down on paper first, then the finer details about characters and plot etc.

Try to adopt a style of your own when writing anything, don’t try to copy someone else’s style.

When deciding on your characters make sure that you are consistent and that you don’t change your characters in any way throughout your story, an easy thing to do when writing something over a long period of time.

It is good to list all of the individual characters full names, ages and things like where they were born parents and perhaps their background too may be part of your story.

One thing though, I would make a bet with you that if you are a reader as well as a writer, you have come across many a story that was far too stretched out and it became boring to read.

Descriptions of characters are fine, indeed important to your story but don’t go too far with description, leave just a little to the imagination of your readers, and only describe your characters once in the story.

There are quite famous writers who I am sure you may have come across who have made the mistake of far too much description and not enough story lines.

Well that’s it for this section but the rest of the article is aimed at writing in general no matter what you choose to write whether fiction or fact.

Singularly the most important thing when completing an article (do this even during your writing) is to first get it spell checked, a computer comes into its own for this purpose but get one or two people who have a reasonable grasp of your language to read it too, you read what you think you have written and often the mistakes of the writer get passed over.

If someone who does not know the story reads it then they will find errors that you didn’t even notice.

Computers don’t always pick up on every spelling mistake and the grammar checker on most machines is almost useless.

When you read back through your work don’t be afraid to make changes and a good idea is to make printed rough copies for yourself and others to be able to correct, you will be surprised how many silly little errors have crept into your work.

You cannot check your output too much; artists notably have said many times that a painting is never considered finished, that they have only stopped adding to it.
If you go down the road of the publisher then do so by all means but also be very careful when taking this course.

Never just take their word for anything, check up and ask as many questions as you see fit, remember a publisher is a business and their business as all others is to make profit.

One more very important thing that really I cannot stress more is: Always read the small print before signing any thing!

Once in a contract that you have put your signature to you are bound by law to fulfil the obligations stated therein.

It is a fact that on many occasions you will come across publishers who more often than not will expect you to put money up front for their services, they really do not seem to take many chances and it would seem that all of the risks are yours.

As well as this pit fall, another thing that perhaps you will come across is that of others believing that because you have sold one or two copies then you will soon be a millionaire, most people simply do not realise that the actual writer certainly initially makes very little money for his/her hard work.

Unless you can sell in large amounts you will only get a small remuneration, often less than a fifth of the actual selling price.

If the selling price is set low then clearly the lower the less you as a writer will receive, you have to choose whether you want to make your first effort free to get yourself known or do you just want to risk making a small profit initially.

Oh! Yes just one final thing, if and when you begin to receive feedback about your work, please don’t be tempted to either thank people for good feedback and even more importantly don’t reply to poor or bad feedback either.

You simply do not want your potential customers to think that you are sitting waiting for their approval.

I hope some of this helps you the prospective writer, if you need to ask anything or even if you feel that you would like to send a comment or anything else really then email me at: pgc1@pgc1.karoo.co.uk

Copyright P. G. Coggin.

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