Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tip O'Day #264 - "One Sentence Writing Tips IV"

Over the holidays, I asked folks in my online network to share one-sentence writing tips. We’ve been looking at them all week, and here’s the Final Five.

Mike Snyder – “Write characters, not caricatures.”

Linda Swink – “There is no one right way to create a story.”

Kristen Wood – “Fall in love with your characters; if you don't, no one else will.”

Mark Terry – “Omit unnecessary words.”

Claudette Walker – “Enjoy your writing or others will not.”

Dixon says: Mike and Kristen rang my bell with their comments, since I write character-driven fiction. I often start out with a flawed character in a challenging situation and then ask, “What if…?” When I see clearly what the first 3-4 chapters will look like, and have a foggy idea of the resolution, then it’s time to start putting ink on some perfectly good paper. To me, a cast of strong yet imperfect characters being forced to make difficult choices creates the plot, not the other way around.

Linda’s comment is spot on – there are many roads that will take you from page first to page last. Taking the easy path often results in writing that feels safe and familiar – and boring. Fight your way through the brambles instead of following the freeway. You’ll probably run into Linda somewhere along the way.

My first drafts are always fat, and then I put Mark’s advice to work, weeding out words and phrases that aren’t absolutely vital. I keep thinking I’ll get to the point where removing one additional word will change the entire story; however, the truth is that I eventually get sick and tired of editing.

Claudette’s tip is last for a good reason. Writing should be enjoyable. I recognize that some folks write for therapeutic reasons, to cast out the demons of a toxic upbringing or brutal relationship. All of us have moments when fighting our way through a scene is only slightly easier than battling a battalion of orks. Even so, there is satisfaction in coming up with the right words to describe a key scene, penning a character so readers everywhere will recognize the type, and arriving at long last at those magical words, “The End.”


  1. Write, even when the rest of the world is calling.

  2. Don't just talk about it--write.

  3. There are times I have read my book after it is in print and I am always amazed that I wrote certain scenes in the book and I am proud of myself for that accomplishment. When I went to write about myself was when I felt like I was slacking. I did not have writer's block. I am pretty sure it was not that I did not want to tell the story, it just rehashed old memories that I would like to forget. I started off writing my memoirs of 13-14 years because I wanted to inspire others not to give up no matter what their ups and downs. I have a crippling disease that tried it's best to defeat me, but some how I have managed through it all and I with my whole heart believe that it was due to my persistence and determination and passion for writing that I overcame and became happy with my life as it was. so my main tip would have to be: Be Happy With Your Life. If you are not happy why stay unhappy, if you can help it.