Ten Tips for Better Writing from Fantasy Author Josh VanBrakle
Writing is a craft, one you can hone with time and effort. There are lots of suggestions out there for how to improve your writing. As a published author, here are ten I try to remember:
1. Read aloud
When you edit (you do edit, right?), read aloud. It will slow you down and help you spot mistakes. If you stumble over a passage, rewrite it. Odds are your readers will stumble over it too.
2. Write every day
I know how hard it is to find time to write. I work a day job in addition to writing The Dragoon Saga. But if you really want to write, then write something every day. Even if it’s only one page, one paragraph, or one sentence, it’s progress.
Study whatever you’re writing about. Study setting, time period, architecture, fashion, and food. The more believable you can make the details, the more they’ll fade into the background and let readers become engrossed in your story.
4. Read about writing
There are some great resources for writers. I recommend William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and of course, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Read them and return to them often.
5. Find a mentor
You can read about writing, but to really excel, it helps to have a mentor, an experienced author who can help you identify where you’re weak and give you suggestions on how to improve. Look for local art organizations and libraries that may sponsor writing workshops and plan to attend them.
6. Obsess over details
Everything matters in a book, so this is one time to sweat the small stuff. When you edit, remember that there’s no word that isn’t worth slaving over and getting exactly how you want it.
7. Carry a notepad
Ideas come at the worst times. Mine favor when I’m falling asleep, taking a shower, and driving. If you don’t capture ideas when they come, you’ll forget them by the time you can write them down. Always carry a notepad or some other tool to record your inspirations. Most will be junk, but the few gems you find will vastly improve your writing.
8. Write about your characters
What do your characters like to eat? Where do they hang out? Who are their friends? What do they own? Have a character sheet for each character, and record these details. You probably won’t use this text in a story, but referring to it will help keep you focused on who your characters really are.
9. Read awesome books
Before you can write, you need to read. Whatever genre you want to write in, read great books in it. In fact, read great books in every genre. Whether we like to admit it or not, we learn to write through imitation.
10. Let yourself fail
You will write a lot of junk before you write anything that someone wants to pay money for. Be willing to experiment and fall on your face. Ditch your pride. We learn a lot more from failure than we do from success.
From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.
Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom's only known Left, that's meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It's harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia's charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It's a suicide mission, and Iren's chances aren't helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon's spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.
Adding to his problems, someone on Iren's team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who - and how - to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.
"A fast-paced adventure...led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going." - ForeWord Reviews
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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