145 FREE PAGES OF WRITING TIPS
(I'd just like to say thanks to all the people who've emailed to say how pleased they are to have discovered this site, and telling me how it helps with their writing. I was thinking I was crazy to take 4 months off my own writing to produce this guide, but when I read responses like that, it makes it all worthwhile. Thanks for the feedback!)
PS. I've just done a few tips on writing steampunk fiction, so I'll set them up as a separate page. Just click here STEAMPUNK WRITING TIPS.
Who are these tips for?
These tips are for genre writers not literary writers, for storytellers not writers of semi-autobiographical memoirs. Some of them apply specifically to fantasy, SF and horror, most of them work for any popular fiction that needs page-turning excitement, suspense and a strong storyline.
Are they good for everyone?
I don’t believe any tips are universal—it depends what you start out with. If you naturally write with very few adjectives, you don’t need advice on cutting them down. If your tendency is to show events dramatically, you’ll have more use for advice about telling events over time—and vice versa. Some things I do automatically I’ve probably never thought about.
Why listen to Richard Harland?
Looks like Worldshaker and Liberator could be my breakthrough into the big time, but I’m not J. K. Rowling yet, that’s for sure. What I have is a sort of schizophrenia—one half of my brain creates and writes, while the other half observes. I think a lot about what does and doesn’t work, and I’ve tested my ideas in hundreds of creative writing workshops.
I still plan on being J. K. Rowling some day, though …
Why are you doing this for free?
So far, I’m a middling-successful author with 15 published books of fantasy, SF and horror, some for adults, some YA and some for younger readers. I reckon that makes me luckier than most, so this is my way of getting good karma and giving something back.
The main sections are:
I. GOOD WRITING HABITS (and good revising habits)
II. THE ELEMENTS (Action; Setting; Dialogue; and presenting the inner thoughts of characters)
III. CHARACTERS (including Point of View)
IV. STORY (telling a story; and momentum, pacing)
V. LANGUAGE (style, names, special ways of using language)
VI. GETTING PUBLISHED (and things to do after publication)
There's a navigation bar for the main sections, side-bars for sub-sections and pages, a GENERAL INDEX button for scattered topics, and a SITE MAP button for the whole set-up. Or if you want to begin at the beginning and read through the way I wrote it, just use the NEXT button.
Here's a total continuous PDF file for downloading and printing. Size is 1.6 MB.
I'll set up an address for contributions as soon as I have time (I'm frantic over promotion for Worldshaker at the moment.) I'd like to incorporate the experience of other writers, as extra pop-up text.
Here’s to good karma! If you find these tips helpful, pass the word along! And please, be fair. The material on this site is free, but if you use it in workshops or classes or whatever, let people know where it came from. I had to take 4 months off writing fiction to produce it!
Here are the posters for the site again -