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Twelve Quick Steps to Get You Through

 

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Prologue

I wanted to put together a short but to the point book for those that are looking to fully utilize their writing time to the hilt. There are so many references out there that one can spend a day researching and never get any actual writing done.

I have compiled a list here of some helpful tips and references all in one short but sweet eBook for you. I have years of experience in writing and feel that information is helpful only if shared.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Andrea Prescott

Tip 1: Outline or None?

This has been a debated concept for a while between writers. Film director Drew Goddard says, “The more work you put in on your outline and getting the skeleton of your story right, the easier the process is later.”

I feel that any plan is better than no plan at all. If you look at some of the great writers you will find that most do wake up and have a general written idea of what they will be writing about. But it goes without saying that some of even the best of writers don’t actually have a plan, they just sit down and write.

Stephen King says: “I don’t work from an outline, or anything like that. It’s just that these ideas will connect with me on some level.”

I think that if I had as many books under my belt as Stephen King then I wouldn’t need to outline my story either. But until then, I am an outline girl.

Tip 2: Editing as You Write, Do You?

While I know there are a lot of perfectionists out there, me included, that can’t stand to leave behind a misspelled word or bad grammar, it is imperative that you don’t allow your editing hat to kick in while you are getting out your story.

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.

-Stephen King

Yes, I know, easier said than done. I know that it is truly tempting to go back and correct that red lined word or bad grammar usage, but save that until you have fully written out that idea or that page. If possible wait until the end of your writing time. This will save you from forgetting your thought and keep your juices flowing in the direction of your story.

In addition to all of this, you might never actually finish writing your story if you must keep going back and changing things.

“Even if you write it wrong, write it and finish your first draft. Only then, when you have a flawed whole, do you know what you have to fix.” Dominick Dune

Tip 3: Time for the P’s.

I created this easy to remember slogan: The 3 P’s of Writing.

Plan:

This is a step that is most necessary for it helps you to know what you will be writing when you sit down and do the said project. This includes: outline, research and all materials needed. This is key to making sure that you have an idea as to what it is you will be writing and how you will complete your project.

Prepare:

Although I know it might seem a bit corny but be a bit on the Boy Scout wavelength here. By this I mean setting up the space necessary to carry out the plan. Get all items ready, which includes: your office space, computer, beverages, reference books, and anything that you need to help you get ready for your writing time.

Most importantly prepare to set aside the time to do the writing. This time is crucial to ensure that nothing comes in your way to prevent you from producing the project. Map out as much as you can to ensure you are ready.

Produce:

This is where you sit down and do the work. All the planning and prep work come together and you get this done. By doing the steps above you ensure that nothing will now enter in to distract you from your goal. It is easy to get stuck on the other two longer than need be for then we don’t have to actually do anything.

It is like an endless procrastination cycle, but the real result isn’t the Planning or the Prep work it is the completed project!

Tip 4: Software, Do We Need More?

As we are in the generation that makes all that we do easier, writing is no exception to this. There are SO many writing software programs out there from outlining to character and story development.

I have my preferences for they have proven themselves worthy of recommending. Not only to me, but to the readers of what I write and how files are easier for them to open and read.

The two that I am more prevalent towards are: Save the Cat software and Final Draft Screenwriting Program. There are others that I have tried and occasionally will slip my story into to see how well it fits into this or that software but overall, I come back to my tried and true.

Tip 5: Keep the Story Alive

What really matters is the story. In the long run no matter what program, what fancy cover sheet you have, the STORY is the selling feature. All else won’t matter in the end.

“The story–from Rumpelstiltskin to War and Peace–is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” -Ursula K. Le Guin

You can have the best software on the planet but no matter, if you haven’t conveyed the story, then it isn’t worth telling.

Tip 6: Do Your Characters Need a Fix?

This will be one of the most important wastes of your time you will ever spend. Why I say it that way is this: most people feel that they can already define their characters and never do this step. They feel that they already KNOW them and know how they would react to certain situations in the story.

However, as you start to write the character they can even change the story that you had originally set out to tell. It happens. Not always but it does happen. They take on a life of their own. So isn’t it important to at least jot down some important character-istics they have so that you stay true to their personalities throughout?

I encourage you to check out tools that help you define your characters and flush them out. My favorite is the book “The Coffee Break Screenwriter” by Pilar Alessandra. In it she has amazing templates that will guide you through strong character development.

Tip 7: The Key to Writer’s Heaven!

The best way to tell your story is to make sure you have hit all the ‘beats’ of the story in all the right places. To better explain beats get the book [+ Save the Cat+] by Blake Snyder. This book is the template for how a script should be written. While there are screenplays that have gone against this style and made it, most films follow this step by step and get the product; a well written screenplay that sells.

This is NOT guaranteed by any means but it does put your script up there amongst the big players. By hitting the scenes at the right time, you ensure that your story moves along and keeps the attention of your audience.

I would also suggest that you sign up for their emails since they write up the beats for the latest movies. By reading these beat sheets you will learn how to make your own script stronger.

Tip 8: It’s Never Too Late!

While I am no expert in this area, this is the number one peeve of writers from the research that I have read, including myself. We must create that block of time to write no matter what the cost. I have read the pros and cons on writing at night versus writing during the day. This all depends on your own schedule and your responsibilities. I dedicated a blog post to this but will write more on this in another eBook.

“Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.”
—George Singleton

It has been said that the more time you spend writing the better a writer you become. I never really believed this until recently. But it does make sense and I didn’t consider it to be like other jobs we do. We do become better at things with practice and writing isn’t any different. Go figure!

Tip 9: Focus Your Mind!

I added this part for I think that something should be said about staying focused and not letting the day to day distractions pull you away. There are so many other things pulling at us and we need to treat those just as important as we treat our writing time. So, during the writing time we need to stay focused on writing. No other distractions like our social media sites or email. It is writing time not research time.

“Being a good writer is 3% talent, and 97% not being distracted by the internet.” Anonymous

 

The best advice I can give on this is make it a game to stay true to this writing time. Then when done, reward yourself with internet time.

 

Tip 10: Come Back Again and Again!

While each of these tips can act as inspiration and motivate you, it goes without saying that you might have your own way to do so. This is important as you know there will be days that you feel as though it isn’t worth it. Write out those negative feelings in “Morning Pages” suggested by Julia Cameron in Artists Way.

Norman Vincent Peale says,
“It’s always too early to quit.”

I know there are great motivational videos as well as lots of books on this topic. But the one thing that has helped me is to create a blog that helps others.

Les Brown, a former politician turned motivational speaker says, “Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”

I chose to write a blog to give some helpful tips to writing one’s story whether it be a screenplay or a novel. This has helped me as it keeps me also on top of the latest trends in writing and such. You have ample resources to tap into on this subject and I encourage you to do so. Just don’t let your well run empty before filling up so that you don’t become stuck and miss a day of writing.

Tip 11: Your Space Is Your Haven

Your space can either encourage or distract depending on the setup. Having the right atmosphere for writing is one of the most valuable tools for it will be the space that you come to again and again so it better be a place you enjoy. Create your space the way you want it. There are a lot of references from various writer’s and magazines catering to writers that describe the “perfect” writing space. Your space is just that, YOUR space.

The idea behind the set-up is to make sure that you stay in your chair and write. So that would mean any drinks should be already made and on your desk. This would ensure that you don’t leave your office area and that all you designated writing time is for writing.

Here is advice from notorious author Hemingway:

“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again.”

Tip 12: Don’t Be Afraid to Delve!

Read! This might seem like a no brainer but I must put this in. Reading will keep your skills sharp. The books don’t necessarily have to be about writing but a few should be. Delve into reading every day. Treat it as important as writing is. It can help generate ideas and unstick you should you get blocked. It also helps generate ideas and inspiration.

“ Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it.”  William Faulkner

I find that biographies and books on writing are helpful. There is something to reading about another writer that inspires me to become a better one myself. I am sure that you have your own extensive list but here are a few that I would suggest.

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

You Are a Writer (then start acting like one)
by Jeff Goins

Ernest Hemingway a Biography
by Mary V Dearborn

Summary:

Use these pointers to keep yourself motivated and make your project the best it can be!

Want more help?

Contact me with your questions or manuscripts and we can tell great stories together!

Andrea Prescott

[email protected]

www.AndreaPrescott.com

 


Twelve Quick Steps to Get You Through

I wanted to put together a short but to the point book for those that are looking to fully utilize their writing time to the hilt. There are so many references out there that one can spend a day researching and never get any actual writing done. I have compiled a list of some helpful tips and references all in one short but sweet eBook for you. I have years of experience in writing and feel that information is helpful only if shared. - Andrea Prescott

  • Author: Andrea Prescott
  • Published: 2017-07-11 00:35:09
  • Words: 2308
Twelve Quick Steps to Get You Through Twelve Quick Steps to Get You Through