Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Guest Post! by P.R. Newton



10 Tips For Becoming A Better Writer
P.R. Newton is the author of a contemporary fiction novel, Shattered Embrace.
After struggling to find a family, childhood secrets threaten to destroy everything for a Canadian woman and Ethiopian girl.
1 – Get out into the world. Talk with people, experience things, let the world become the muse for your work. It is so easy for writers to be introverts and spend a great deal of time behind the keyboard but your imagination can take you only so far. It is often very evident to the reader how much truth and experience is behind your words. So get out there and live, embrace the emotions, and then let those inspire your prose.
2 – Challenge yourself to be extremely empathetic. The more you can empathize with people, the more you will learn and grow to understand what influences people to behave in certain ways. This in turn will give you greater insight into the driving forces and internal struggles that motivate characters in your stories. This leads to greater diversity, depth and believability in your characters.
3 – Read. Read extensively and diversely. Don’t limit yourself to certain genres, authors, fiction or nonfiction, recent stories or the greats. Read them all, educate yourself as much as you can, learning something from each piece. Whether it is something you can use in a character, or to set a scene, or a trick about plotting or sentence structure, each piece you read offers a chance for you to learn and grow as a writer. Embrace those opportunities.
4 – Use a really good editor. I know this can get expensive but a talented editor can offer you a master class in developing your skills specifically based on where you are currently at with your work. It is well worth the expense, especially for developing authors.
5 – Be open to feedback. Your goal is to get better, to improve. So listen to all the feedback and process it. That means sifting through all the information and looking for patterns. Where are you strong? Where are you weak? Use that knowledge and make your next work better.
6 – Write. Write. Write. And finish what you write. Even if it sucks and you think it is the worst thing to ever be put on paper. Finish it. Then let it sit while you move onto the next thing, and make that next one better than the last one. Then go back and reread that first one with fresh eyes before deciding what to do next. 
7 – Network with other authors. We are in this together. Not as competitors but as supporters and allies. Authors are, on the whole, a great group of people. Working together we can do really amazing things.
8 – Write the way you write, or the way the piece comes to you, don’t force the story or become frustrated with writer’s block. Shattered Embrace was written in chunks that I then stitched together and filled in the blanks, or removed extraneous pieces. It wasn’t a smooth A to B journey, but instead a twisting, wild ride that at times was hard to wrangle, but with the help of a great editor and a lot of hard work, it eventually all settled neatly into place.
9 – Celebrate the small milestones. In this business the outliers get a lot of attention and it can be easy to lose focus or become discouraged by the illusion of success. Instead focus on your own milestones and achievements and don’t make comparisons. It’s hard I know but we need to try.
10 – Write a story you can believe in and stand behind. Not matter what route you travel to publish, most of the marketing will fall on you as the author, this makes it imperative that your story is something important that you are passionate about. With Shattered Embrace, I was stunned by the lack of understanding around childhood trauma. Most people hang their hats on false sayings such as “love is enough” or “they are too young to remember.” The ones who suffer most from these false words are the traumatized children. My hope is that my novel may make things a little better for these children by starting some conversations and creating better understanding. And helping these children is something I can stand behind every day of the week.