A Baker's Dozen Writing Tips

1.  The secret to good writing is rewriting.  Every first draft stinks, but by the sixth or seventh edit, it takes shape and sing.

2. Word reduction makes writing crisp.  Don’t use four words where you could use one. 

3. Avoid passive sentences.

4. Play with your words.  Have fun creating pithy phrases and colorful word pictures.

5. Eliminate as many adverbs as possible.  An adverb should never be used to prop up a weak verb.  Instead, kill them both and use a stronger verb.

6. Declare war on exclamation points.  This was a challenge for me.  I love exclamation points, and riddled my manuscript with them.  Then Kevin, my ruthless editor, eliminated them all.  “If you must rely on an exclamation point to give it punch, then you need to rework it.”  A good sentence carries its own punch.  Exclamation points are like jalapeno peppers; they add a zing, but should be sparingly.

7. The same thing applies to quotation marks.

8.  Think of a specific person as your target, and then write with him/her in mind.  This makes the writing more personal, and less stilted.

9.  Show, don't tell,  Rather than explaining, paint word pictures.

10.  Don’t force material, even if you love it.  About 30% of what I write doesn't make the final edit.  It kills me to chop out good stuff I’ve worked so hard to create.  Yet, a good book requires sacrificing a few good ideas.  Cut and paste helps soften this for me.  I imagine I’m going to use it somewhere else someday.

11.   When the bus stops, get on.  The publication bus stopped for me and I hopped on.  My first book wasn’t what I’d imagined it would be, but it was the one that presented itself, and gave me a golden opportunity to help others.

12.  Eliminate as many "thats" as possible.  I picked that tidbit up from one of my favorite authors, Bob Goff.  The de-thatting process makes better sentences.

13.  Writing multiplies influence.  You can impact people you’ve never met with your thoughts – even after you’re dead.


Natalie Gidney said…
Thanks for the tips. I'm working on my third book and I was excited to see these tips to help me hone my work.
Dave Quinn said…
Thanks Mark. They are really helpful. Both for blogging and food for thought for the future.

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