Tips For Young Writers

I’ve had a lot of fans asking me questions about writing.  I thought I would take some time to post info on here, so I can go into more detail than on my facebook fan page for DEMON KISSED.  There isn’t much room to write a response over there.

Personally, I write because I have to.  It’s a means of expression.  It’s the same reason why some people paint, and others sing, or play an instrument.  Creative expression is a do-or-die thing for me.

I’ve been writing stories since I was ten-years-old.  They mirrored folklore when I started, and slowly developed into fantasy.

When I was younger, I would hand write my stories.  They grew from a few pages to several hundred.  I didn’t edit much then.  I wrote to write, and for no other reason.  I followed one storyline, that I loved, and the stack of papers grew.  I kept them in a Robert Frost folder that I got from my middle school.  I still have that stack stored in there today.  It’s fun to go back and see what the mind of a child came up with.  Some stories were so imaginative, that I surprised myself when I went back to read them later.

My first and foremost tip is this –  Write.

Write because you love it.  Write because you have to.

I had no intention of seeking publication with my early writings.  I did them for me, and no one else.  That type of writing is important, and will foster a sense of self that you can’t get any way else.

When I was in 10th grade, I wanted to write poetry.  I sucked at it.  I remember sitting on my bed, trying to spill my feelings onto the page in a few eloquent words, and finding I filled up both sides of the page.

It looked like a story, not prose.  I forced myself to slash down the words, choosing more vivid images, and stronger words to tell the story.  Eventually my poems became what I wanted – a reflection of my soul.

In college I had no trouble writing papers.  None at all.  While other kids thought writing a 10 page paper sucked, I totally thought it was fine.  I still remember getting the assignment for my first 30 page paper.  The entire class looked ill.  I thought about it for a second, and knew I could do that.  No problem.

I have a secret for you:  The people who write, just to write, have a much easier time writing when writing’s required.  I think the longest paper I had to write for my masters work was 75 pages.  By then, I thought 30 pages was fluff.

Natural writers have a very unfair advantage, because we have been using words, molding them to our will, long before someone told us we had to.  We think it’s fun.

And dude, it totally is!

So, onto how do you keep the storyline straight in your head, work out the plot, and subplots.  Several of you asked me about this, and different writers do it different ways.  For DEMON KISSED I utilized several methods.  First, I collected my ideas, having a general idea of the flow, but unsure of the secondary conflicts.  I made outlines.  That helped me see how the story was progressing.  The only bad thing about sticking to an outline is that ideas come to me while I’m writing, so I’d abandon the outline.  So it’s there to help, as a guide, but if I want to go off-roading, I do that too.

At one point, I tried making a storyboard.  That’s where you take index cards and write out your storyline, and post it on a cork board.  This works really well for linear thinkers.  I mapped out my main story line at one point, but the secondary plots that wove in and out were more difficult to capture on cork.

Personally, I think very abstractly, so linear isn’t my thing.  My cork board now holds notes I make to myself.

Notes were the best thing I did to keep the plot moving forward, and keeping things straight.  It’s not like I’d forget huge things, but I found little details (that help tie the whole story together) would come to me at odd times and be quickly forgotten.  Now, I jot down whatever I’m thinking and stick it on the board.  When I adapt the idea into the novel, I toss the note.  That was a HUGE help.

The most challenging thing I’ve encountered, so far, is having enough guts.  Yeah, I wrote the entire novel before I told anyone.  I sat down one day and decided to write.  My storyline formed and I just kept going.

For me, telling people that I did it was the hard part.  I write, paint, sing, play the cello, so it’s not like it’s a shocker to anyone that I’d do something that I love.  At the same time, it’s like learning to fly by jumping off a cliff.  You’ll find out if you can’t do it when you hit the bottom.  That’s a pretty brutal way to learn, but you’ll learn über fast.  That is the Holly way of learning things – things that weren’t covered in school.

Have a good week!  And remember, its SNEAK PEAK WEEK!  That means you get to read Chapter 1 of DEMON KISSED on Friday!!!


About HM Ward

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, & USA Today bestselling author.
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11 Responses to Tips For Young Writers

  1. Micaiah says:

    I know you may have other posts you may be reading but i was wondering… do i really have to feel that way to write? The reason i ask is because I love writing i don’t mind writing at all actually i love it sometimes and at times i think it just down right sucks when it comes to doing assignments. It would be nice to know a view of what you think because the problem is my dreams are what give me ideas. That feel so real like it actually happened and i bet a lot of people have the same thing, but anyways, thanks for the chance of letting me have the chance to comment. thank you.

  2. No, not all writers feel the way I do. That’s just how stuff works for me. Everyone does different stuff.

    You said, “I think it just down right sucks when it comes to doing assignments.”

    Dude, I didn’t say I liked doing the assignments – I said I could do them, and had much less stress about it than the kids sitting around me. That also developed over time. I wasn’t born with it. And writing a 30-page exegetical paper on a 2,000 year old book isn’t a cake walk. By the time I had to do that, I was in college.

    In ten years, you might find the same ease – even if the assignment isn’t fun. :o)

  3. Sage says:

    Um, hi. I’ve just finished a ‘book’ that I’ve been writing for a couple of months now. I really get into my books, like I act like the main-main character. Like M., the first initial of my character’s name, is 17. Apparently, while writing this ‘book’, I acted like a 17 year old, and I’m like 4 years from there. Is this a good thing? Should I actually ACT like my character? I know not all the time, and that’s what frustrates my mother… Lol. Um, I suck at taking notes and keeping track of them is even harder. Bad memory at times. I’ll see if that works, because it sounds like a good idea, and I’m praying it does. Do you have any suggestions for future reference? I’m still pretty young, and I can retain a whole lot.. 🙂

    • On some level, the characters we write are part of us, or people we know. Otherwise we wouldn’t understand what motivates them to act the way they do. Something that might help you out is a character profile. You can use them when you are making up a new character. I wrote down my character profiles, as I created them. After a while, I stopped using it. The characters become “real” people to the writer at some point. Then you know what they’d do, or how they’d act. There is no question you could ask about Ivy (my heroine) that I couldn’t answer. Think of them as friends – you don’t keep notes on friends – you just know them after a while. :o)

  4. Christina says:

    Hi Holly, I’ve been working on my own novel for a quite awhile now. I’m very young (thirteen) so I’m pretty sure I won’t go very far just yet 😉 But your tips helped alot! As I read, I realized I have alot of the same problems as you do! I also forget some of the little details that help so much with the conclusion of the story. I always think of these things at the worst times – eating dinner, in the shower, at the store, you name it. However, I am now writing everything down after reading what you said, and it helps a lot! Thanks so much! Just one question – were you born an amazing author? I’m asking because I definitely wasn’t. I’ve improved, but I wonder if I will still get better if I work at it? Thanks.

    • I think good writers are made, not born. The younger you start writing, the more time you have to get better! People who enjoy writing also tend to make better authors – they write for the love of writing. It comes across in their work. It sounds like that is what you are doing, which is great. 🙂 Keep writing and remember to write for you, about things close to your heart, and you can’t go wrong.

  5. Nina says:

    Hi. I’m 13 years old and I’m working on a novel. It’s not my first “real” book, and it won’t be the first time that I’ll submit it into a publishing company, but if they accept it, that’ll be my first publihsed book. So I was wondering, any advice on publishing? Should I get an agent? Thanks a lot.
    -Nina <:D

  6. Kat says:

    Ello! I read your ‘Tips for Young Writers I and II’ and I found out that it helped a lot! I’m only 14, but I love writing and all things creative. The one crappy thing is that I have “commitment” issues. I usually can’t think of a plot, or I don’t know the ending yet, or I just get sidetracked and stop writing. Your tips have really helped me, and I’m looking forward to turning my “What ifs” into a reality on paper! ^_^

  7. Pingback: Tips for Young Writers | Indie Author H.M. Ward

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