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Samantha Hoffman

Samantha Hoffman

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Improve Your Writing with a Critique Group

 I read post after post about how difficult writing is; how lonely, how stressful, how agonizing, how no one really likes doing it.
Here are a couple:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

 ~ Ernest Hemingway
“If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.” 

~ William Zinsser

Oh, pish posh! Then quit it if you hate it so much.
Is writing a novel easy? Of course not. If it was everyone would be doing it. But what in life (that is worthwhile) is easy? Quit whining.
If you don't like how solitary writing is, find a critique group or a class or a writing partner. Not that they will sit with you while you're creating, but you have your characters for company when you're engaged with them; they're fabulous! If they're not, you can change them, find new ones, learn more about them, have a relationship with them.
And when you need real people around, it's simple...turn to your writing community. It is vast; it's real-life or virtual, it's one person or five or ten, it's in every bookstore and on every website. If you need people they are out there and the writing community is an amazingly supportive one. Just look around.
So now, it's time to get back to your writing, and enjoy it. 

Writing Tip: Just Do It (thank you Nike)

The more you write the better you get. This is not big news. It's not the next Big Thing. It's just truth. 

Writing is not about the right inspiration or whether you write first thing in the morning or late at night; it's not about if you write longhand or on your computer; it's not about what genre you's just about writing. The plain, simple truth is the more you write the better you get. And it doesn't matter if you're writing fiction or in your journal or a magazine article or an email. 

You just need to keep writing.
Writing, like playing the piano or the perfect putt or drawing...the more you do it the better you get.  
There is nothing more true than that.
And here's the best advice I ever got, from my former writing coach Jerry Cleaver:
"The difference between a writer and a published author is that the author didn't quit."
So, just do it. 

Writing Tip: Plotting by the Numbers

 Wouldn't it be great if there was a formula for plotting your novel, and all you had to do was fill in the blanks with your wonderful prose? Actually, you can find this kind of formula - just Google "formula for plotting novel" and you'll come up with 8,350,000 results. Which ones will work? Who knows. What works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. Writers do it differently; some outline, some do storyboards, some do chapter synopses, some (like me) just write and let the story unfold. For me, characters appear and situations change as I write, and it's a fun surprise. There's no right way or wrong way. Whatever works for you is how you should do it. You may have to try different things but eventually you'll land on the process that works best.

Once you've landed on the way to work you'll want to pay strict attention to those things that MUST be present in your novel if you're going to grab your reader: interesting and well-drawn characters, beginning-middle-end, conflict and resolution, prose that moves the story along. Click here to read Kurt Vonnegut's basics on creative writing.

Once you've written your first draft you can use a formula. See the post below) to see if your story will work. I checked my first book, What More Could You Wish For, using this formula and was surprised (and pleased) to see that my story met the requirements: a crossing over point at 25% point and a near death situation at the halfway point.
Check your work in progress, or a short story, article...whatever. It's a valuable exercise.