The March/April issue of Writer’s Digest magazine has hit the newsstands and the Web. Inside the issue you will find a feature story on author Mary Kay Andrews (who also appears on this month’s cover), plus a guide to grammar and writing, quick tricks for writing a good story, tips for finding your voice in writing, ways to avoid common writing mistakes, advice on finding your niche and much more!
Author Mary Kay Andrews Gives Writing Advice & Talks About Finding Your Niche
Before becoming a published author, Mary Kay Andrews worked as a journalist. Then she started writing mystery novels. But it wasn’t until she started writing women’s fiction and made the bestseller lists that she felt like she had found her niche in writing. In this Writer’s Digest interview, she gives writing advice, offers tips for finding your niche, discusses being a part of a writer’s group, shares her best publishing advice, and explains the importance of social media and connecting to your readers.
5 Tips for Writing a Good Story
Let’s face it–every writer wants to impress both editors and readers with their writing. But often times it is easy to lose focus. Writer Steven James gives five examples of story mistakes. Avoid these common mistakes:
- Overdoing Symbolism/Themes. If you describe your theme or insert symbolism into every part of your story, your readers will be distracted. Instead, try driving your narrative through tension and moral dilemmas. For example, instead of saying, “you should forgive others,” ask the question, “how do you forgive someone who has done the unthinkable to someone you love?”
- Trying too hard. Writing a good story is on every writer’s mind, but if you try too hard, you will lose your readers. If your characters are funny, let the dialogue show this. Similarly, don’t feel the need to use grandiose words unless it directly relates to the context of your story. Remember, readers want to be entertained.
- Failing to Anticipate the Readers’ Response. Part of being a writer, is having the ability to create believable situations. If you can take a step back and think like one of your readers, you will be able to fix plot points that just don’t add up or fit within your story. After all, the main goal for writing a good story is keeping your readers engaged, and not distracted.
- Using a Hook as a Gimmick. Don’t write a scene specifically to grab readers’ attention without introducing them to the world you’ve created. You want to move your plot forward, and one way to do this is by evaluating your hook. After all, having a good hook is one key to writing a good story.
- Leaving Readers Hanging. Don’t withhold information from your readers unless you hint that you’re going to reveal what they need to know later on in the story. Often times, writers will not give readers all the information they need to know in an attempt to create suspense, but in actuality, they lose the reader. One of the ways to write a good story is to be consistent. For example, if you have one of the main characters get into an accident, start the next chapter describing the outcome of the accident.
Writer’s Workbook: Mastering Voice in Writing
The Writer’s Workbook from the March/April issue gives readers specific exercises and tips for mastering voice through three articles.The first article by Roger Morris (who is known for wine, food, and travel writing) talks about giving nonfiction an audible voice, including ways for matching voice to tone and topic and an exercise on summoning the perfect voice. The second article targets writing with a natural voice. Larry Brooks, author of Story Engineering, explains the difference between voice and style and covers why voice is a crucial part in dialogue. Lastly, Steven Harper, author of Writing the Paranormal Novel, gives 7 tips for finding your voice in writing through techniques and exercises. He also explains and defines voice and how voice is different from style. Having a unique voice is one way to make your writing stand out!
The Top 13 Common Writing Mistakes & A Helpful Guide to Grammar and Writing
One pet peeve of any editor or writer is improper use of nouns, verbs, capitalization, or adjectives. In this article, Grammar Girl gives you examples of 13 common writing mistakes that every writer has made at some point and how to master the basics of grammar. Learn how to avoid common writing mistakes from Grammar Girl’s examples. Use this helpful guide to grammar and writing to improve your writing skills and master the basics!
See more recommendations on writing from the Writer’s Digest editors.