Victoria Moschou is a book reviewer, blogger (Victorious Pages on WordPress), writer (VictoriaMoschou on Wattpad), and winner of the Ruined Childhoods contest hosted by Christine Bottas (Nyhterides) and I.
They say the expert in anything was once a beginner, and I totally agree on that! Of course, I can’t say that I’m an expert on writing fiction, writing blog posts or even sharing zen tips such as the previous one, yet after blogging for the last nine years and working seriously for the first time in my entire life on my WIPs for the past two, I think I’ve gained some experience and I’m a little bit wiser on that aspect than I were the day before. And, since I have a Mary Poppins mood today, I thought I should share that experience and wisdom with you!
So, apart from the obvious and basics, such as grammar rules, structure, punctuation, spelling and sentence construction, there are also a bunch of other rules and tips, not only beginners, but also those who claim to be more experienced, should respect and follow.
Disclaimer! I’m a perfectionist and an organising junkie, so I love lists; and this is going to be a long one. So, I’d suggest you sit back comfortably, get a cup of tea, or in my case coffee, and embrace everything you’re going to learn, or maybe read for the gazzillionth time! What’s certain is that you’re gonna leave this place with at least one new tip up in your sleeve!
Tip number 1: Try writing about the things you feel passionate about!
I know it sounds lame and old, but it’s the truth. The more passionate you feel about the theme and the project you’re working on, the greatest the results will be. A couple of years ago, I started working on my first WIP, which was actually based on a really dysfunctional relationship of mine. Many of the characters were based on real people, some of the events were actual memories, yet, because of the fact that I was feeling really shitty at that period of my life and the story was turning out to be a contemporary one, without the slightest piece of fantasy, I wasn’t feeling that spark! I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter series and the Vampire Academy series, so anything related to magic, folklore tropes, paranormal activities and so on gives me the heebie-jeebies at first, but it also makes me feel ecstatic, the least!
So, when I started working on another project that was full of magic, paranormal creatures, forgotten Fae tribes and a touch of normal lives and everyday problems, I actually managed to finish the first draft of it. For your information, it is being edited now!
Tip number 2: Decide what kind of English you’ re going to use!
Whether it is UK English or American English, you have to be consistent to it once you decide to write and publish something. And I’m telling you this because English isn’t my mother tongue and I find myself doing that mistake quite frequently. Of course, as practice makes perfect, the amount of mistakes has decreased to a minimum; I hope…
Tip number 3: Organise your workplace!
Yes, the organising freak strikes again but this is very important, dearies! If your workplace is everywhere, you’ve got 99.9% possibilities to not finish that piece of writing you started working on! Organise a specific place in your home where you feel comfortable in and decorate it with anything that makes you feel inspired. For example, I tend to write in my office, where I’ve got all my books, my subscription boxes and candles, my fairy-lights and my dozens of coffee mugs. Those are the things I love and they keep inspiring me for the past nine years. They haven’t disappointed me yet and they won’t any time soon; that is for certain!
Tip number 4: Observe!
The greatest of inspiration strikes when you actually observe the space and the people around you. So, if you really want to write something that has that spark and is worth reading, you need to observe behaviours, feelings, face expressions, body language… In other words, you need to show more and tell less. I’m not gonna lie, I’m struggling a lot with that even today but it definitely isn’t as hard to show something to the reader, as it was when I started writing.
And here’s an example for you; the following extracts are from two WIPs of mine. I’m gonna let you guess which is the most amateurish of the two.
“So here I was now, sitting in my room after an exhausting and extremely hot day at work, listening to my close friend Effie, talking about the prospects of one more reunion with him, and telling myself like a mantra a few lines of Divine Comedy’s introduction. So were to me occasion of good hope, the variegated skin of that wild beast.
That was our last chance to achieve something more than what we already had. Our last chance for something similar to what Elisabeth and Mr. Darcy, Eleanor and Edward, and all those classic characters had lived. I could not give any more excuses to him! It may sound romantic and childish, but I wanted as well my life’s Dante, who would write for his Beatrice a divine comedy. Or at least, a divine tragedy!”
“I followed the red mist, my black, silk tunic slithering upon the moist ground. The autumn leaves rustled as I kept walking through the woods, avoiding the Traps of Despair, one of the most ancient and most dangerous herbs that were growing in the Forests of the Fiendish. Yet for those who weren’t accustomed to those deadly plants, the Traps of Despair looked exactly like Dicentra Formosa, also known as Bleeding Heart, the flower of love, passion and lust.
Suddenly, the mist stopped moving, flashing much more intensely than it did before. That was when I heard them… Those voices that were one with the aura, coexisting and singing to each other, a song that only lovers would dare to sing.”
Sure, I’m not claiming that I’m a writer that has to get a Pullinger Prize right this instant, yet I do believe that the more you write, the easier it’ll get for you to tell less and show more!
Tip number 5: Let go of your fear of failure (or success)!
Nobody said you’re gonna become as famous as J. K. Rowling is. Nobody said people will crave for more of your stories and books, like they do today with the books and stories of Sarah J. Maas. Nobody even said that your books are going to end up becoming series adaptations, like the books of George R. R. Martin. You’ve got a long way ahead of you till that day comes. We all do… And that day might never come. But what if it does?
So, stop worrying about what will happen if you fail of succeed and just… keep writing!
Tip number 6: Enjoy what you do!
I’m basically returning to tip number 1, but it is, honestly, the most important of them all. Haters gonna hate no matter what. I’ve gotten some really shitty reviews, comments and even feedback for what I have written from time to time. Most of those shitty comments were from people who act like know-it-alls pretty much 24/7 and had nothing better to do than to try and crash my nerves, and make me feel like a loser. Well, guess what? It didn’t work! Because I loved what I was doing and I still do!
So, just enjoy yourself! Keep writing! Keep working on your craft! There will be people out there who will be eager to help you, give you helpful feedback and invest on you and your stories! I know that from personal experience! I may have gotten that kind of help faster than others, yet all those who deserve it get it, sooner or later.
As for the haters… You’ll get them back when you’re their boss, when they’ll be washing your car!
Like I said at the beginning, I’m not some writing guru, and pretty much everything I’ve written here is based on personal experience, the mistakes I’ve made, and keep making sometimes, and the evolution I’ve seen on my writing skills.
Keep practising! And when the time is write and you have some special to say, the words will simply come to you!
As someone much more talented than myself once said: “One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us!”. Just so you know, that someone is Cassandra Clare, New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Mortal Instruments series, and she probably started out just like you!
All you have to do is believe in yourselves and the power your words can, and should, have!
Thank you again for your time in writing this piece, Victoria! You’re awesome.
How did you find these tips? What tips would you give to a beginner writer — or to other writers?