The ABCs of Writing

WA while back I wrote a post featuring the ABCs of Fantasy Writing. For this post, I thought I’d branch out and do some ABCs for writing in general. Feel free to add your own words or ideas for different letters, and let me know in the comments!

A – Amazon. The place where everyone should have their book listed for sale.

B – Books. Duh.

C – Characters. What kind of story would you have without any characters?

D – Dialogue. When writing dialogue, don’t be afraid of using the word “said.”

E – Edit. Every book, regardless of length, genre, or talent of the author, needs a good edit. Probably several. And at least one round of edits done by someone other than the author.

F – Fans. That loyal following who will keep buying your books.

G – Genre. Even though mixing and crossing genres is very popular, most books still should fit into a broad genre like women’s fiction, fantasy, or non-fiction.

H – Hashtags. If you use Twitter (which you should be if you’re an author), then hashtags like #amreading, #amwriting, and #PitchWars can be very useful for getting yourself noticed.

I – Idea. All writing comes from an idea. Inspiration (I could have used that for my “I” word) can come from a picture, a single word, an event, or anything else. Without ideas and inspiration, there’s nothing to write.

J – Journal. Many writers find journaling to be very beneficial. It’s good for brainstorming ideas, documenting feelings and events for potential later use in a book, and just keeping the writing muscle active every day.

K – Keep going. If you’re frustrated with writing, keep going. If you got rejected by agents or publishers, keep going. If you’re stuck, keep going.

L – Love. Let’s face it – writing can be hard, tiring, sometimes thankless work. Most people who write – and especially those who have reached a level of success of some sort – do what they do because they love it.

M – Magazines. Getting stories or articles printed in a magazine – whether a commercial newsstand mag or a literary journal – can be a great way to get started with a writing career.

N – NaNoWriMo. This stands for National Novel Writing Month, in which people spend the month of November writing a full novel. If you’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, give it a try one year – it’s fun and a good writing exercise, even if you don’t “win” it.

O – Outline. I know there are a lot of pantsers out there who write by the seat of their pants (hence the term “pantser”) and don’t use outlines. There’s nothing wrong with that, but even a rough outline can help keep your story on track. If you’re writing non-fiction, an outline is pretty much a must.

P – Plot. Even literary fiction that is more character-driven has some sort of plot. Nobody wants to read a story in which nothing happens.

Q – Question. To me, this goes along with “idea” and “inspiration.” I think that pretty much every story concept begins with some form of the question “what if?”

R – Reading. This is what we hope that people will do with our books. And as writers, we should be readers, too.

S – Social Media. Every author should have some kind of presence on social media. You don’t have to maintain a profile on every single social media site and join every new one that comes along. Start with a blog and a professional Facebook page. If you’re not using at least a little bit of social media, it will be that much harder to gain a following.

T – Thinking. Writers are thinkers. I often have a whole scene – dialogue and everything – worked out in the head, so then all I have to do when I get home is write it out.

U – Understanding. This is related to thinking, but to me thinking is a more purposeful, active word. Understanding can come with or without prior thinking, and can sometimes be hard to put into words (a frustrating thing for a writer). You can apply the word “understanding” to any part of the writerly journey.

V – Voice. That elusive yet definitive thing that makes your writing uniquely yours.

W – Writing. Duh.

X – Cutting. As in “x” something out. The editing process is frequently more cutting than anything else. That’s where I am with one of my novels – I’m saying goodbye to many passages, bits of dialogue, and whole scenes.

Y – Yay! Okay, sort of a lame word for “y,” but it’s a feeling that’s important to a writer. Celebrate your successes – even if it’s just finishing a scene.

Z – Zeal. Writing is a labor of love, as I pointed out in the letter “L.” But more than just love, I think approaching your writing with zealous excitement can go a long way towards keeping your motivation high.