Thursday, October 22, 2009

Writing Tip

I thought I'd take a turn at sharing writing tips for the next few months. Please feel free to chime in with your own tips and advice, too!

I sure still have a lot to learn about writing, ('conflict' seems to be my arch enemy!) but one thing I'm pretty good at is getting my story on paper. I write every day, no matter what. And, I write fairly fast. That's not to say it's all very good...I just have a far easier time revising and expanding what I've written than simply writing ten quality pages in one sitting.

If writing fast is a challenge for you, I found some tips for 'writing fast' in the book, A Novel Idea.

1) Set a timer. Write for fifteen or twenty minutes. Just write, don't delete or revise.

2)If seeing mistakes on the screen bothers you, turn off or cover your monitor. Remember, spelling and editing mistakes can be fixed later.

3)If you are too tempted by the Internet, make a plan to only check email at certain times of day.

4) When typing, if you forget a name or place, mark the spot with an XXX, then move on. You can go back later and fill in those blanks.

5) And finally, if you're about to write a pivotal scene, prepare for it by jotting down notes about the five senses or the key elements you want to incorporate. Then, when you're typing, you can just plug in some of those notes.

Has anyone ever tried any of these ideas? I, for one, would have a really hard time covering my monitor! But I'd love to have more notes by my side whenever I begin to write.



Marin Thomas said...


Great tips!

I don't use xxxx when I draw a blank while writing but I do use _____ then go back during revisions to figure it out. I also jot down the 5 senses you mentioned during my revisions and try to flesh out scenes that way.

A Cowboy Christmas (Dec 09)

Laura Marie Altom said...

Shelley--these are all great!!

I religiously do most things on the list, but I struggle with #3--which is why I'm here chatting with you and not working on my edits!! LOL!!

P.S. Are you going to Nashville? Seems like forever since I've seen you!

Ann Roth said...

I could never hide my monitor. AlphaSmart won't let you go back and edit, right? My process includes lots of editing while I work. When I finish my daily pages and want to set up work for the following day, I like to rough in a scene with a few lines of dialogue and a paragraph or two, to get me going. Next day, I flesh in my very rough draft of the scent. That's usually enough to get me going and push me through my pages.

Linda Henderson said...

I'm not a writer but they sound like great tips.

PamStone said...

Hi Shelley,

Great tips. I write very much the same was as you. Write fast, get it on the page, then go back and edit and layer in the senses. If I stop to polish it's too easy to lose the flow of the story.

One other thing I do is not always write in chronological order. If a particular scene is on my mind, I write it. Or I write the piece that is in my head and just keep it at the bottom of my document. Then when I get to that point in the story, I just edit it and plug it in. It's my way of not losing the passion that I have for that particular scene when it's playing over and over and over in my head. Weird, I know, but it works for me.

shelley galloway said...

Hi Marin!

I'm trying to do the XXX and ____ thing more often. I have a bad habit of just making up eye colors, street names, and articles of clothing and then have numerous people remind me that the hero had green eyes, not brown. Or that the heroine had on red gloves, not black.


shelley galloway said...

Hi Laura Marie!

Yes, I do plan to go to Nashville! I'd love to plan right now to get together. : )

I just got five pages done, which is why I'm back on the Internet!
I really have to make myself stay on task sometimes!


shelley galloway said...


I loved my Alpha Smart until I lost the 'X' key. Amazing how not being able to type, 'exciting' or 'exhale' has messed me up! You sound like you write like I do. Write and edit. Write and edit.


shelley galloway said...

Hi Pam,

I used to write a lot more scenes out of order than I do now. Reading your note makes me think I should start doing that more. It was fun and kind of freeing, writing about the scene I'm thinking of instead of the one that has to get done.

Thanks for chiming in!