10 Best Writing Tips From Stephen King

Stephen King, author of several bestsellers like Carrie, The Shining, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption and Under the Dome, has sold an astounding 350 million copies of his books and counting. The 69-year-old Maine-born novelist has seen his work been converted into movies, TV shows, miniseries and even comic books. The horror and supernatural fiction writer isn’t just a commercial success, he has been revered and adorned with numerous medals, awards and accolades.

Aspiring writers can learn a lot from the American storyteller who, even after being a victim of a terrible car accident, didn’t stop putting pen to paper. King published a memoir On Writing in 2000 that also serves as a guide for budding novelist. He has given plenty of advice to up-and-coming novelists. Here are 10 of the best writing tips from Stephen King:

  • Read and write a lot. Reading is an essential tool to becoming a successful author. King suggests reading and writing four to six hours a day. In fact, he sets a daily quota of 2,000 words per day and is determined to meet it. You need to devote several hours a day to honing your craft. He says that the most valuable lessons are the ones you teach yourself.
  • The best stories aren’t about events but about people. Write stories that are character-driven. After all, readers fall in love with characters, not events.
  • Write for yourself. One of the best writing tips the multimillion-dollar writer has given is to write because it makes you happy. Don’t write for money, to make friends or get dates.
  • When re-writing and proofreading an unpublished book, take out all the things that do not add to the story.
  • Being grammatically correct is important, but don’t obsess over it. At the end of the day, you’re writing a story and ensuring that the reader wants to it. However, King encourages writers to avoid adverbs.
  • Avoid distractions like the TV, videogames and mobile phones. They are a writer’s enemies.
  • Start with a what if scenario and work your story based on it. This is one of King’s most useful writing tips if you’re afflicted with a common malady known as writer’s block.
  • Kill your favorite characters, even if it hurts you. A good author isn’t afraid to kill them.
  • Fear is what keeps most writers from being successful.
  • Emerging scribes should stick to their own writing style rather than imitate another author’s style. Just be yourself.

So there you have it – Stephen King’s recipe for becoming a bestselling author. It may be difficult to start writing fiction or you may be stuck but the important thing is to keep going. King overcame a lot of difficulties such as financial problems, a car accident and inability to find work as a teacher. He raised three kids with his wife while teaching full-time and writing novels on the side. Now go ahead and pen that book you’ve always wanted. The best time to write something is now.

10 Best Writing Tips From Neil Gaiman

When listing the names of the best authors in the fantasy genre, every avid reader will inevitably say Neil Gaiman’s name. The 56-year-old Hampshire-born writer has penned a plethora of comic books, graphic novels, and films. He’s even dabbled in songwriting, theatre and TV shows. Regarded as one of the top ten post-modern writers, Gaiman’s bibliophile nature and journalistic background have helped him become the revered novelist he is today.

Gaiman’s most notable works include The Sandman comic series, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He’s also social media savvy and isn’t afraid to share his knowledge and experience with the world. In fact, he has often peppered his blog with writing tips for budding authors. Although there’s a lot he has said about writing, publishing and being a writer, we’ve compiled a list of the most important ones. Here are Neil Gaiman’s pearls of wisdom:

  • Ideas aren’t that important. Everyone has an idea for a book, a movie or a TV show. Creating believable characters who more or less do what you want them to do is the hard part. So spend time on your characters once you’ve outlined your idea.
  • Put down your mobile phone and switch off your TV. Some of the best ideas can come from daydreaming, getting bored and making things up. Your mind will amuse itself once it’s sufficiently bored and come up with interesting scenarios. Everybody daydreams. The difference between an average person and a writer is that a writer notices when he or she is doing it.
  • If you’re having a problem coming up with a good idea, create a situation around these questions: What if, if only, I wonder, if this goes on and wouldn’t it be interesting if. This is perhaps one of the most useful writing tips from Neil Gaiman.
  • It’s crucial to put one word after another till you’ve finished your novel or short story. Writing shouldn’t be done only during a fit of inspiration. It has to be done every day once the idea has been formed. Finish it.
  • Neil Gaiman suggests sending your manuscript to all publishers in your genre. Even if your manuscript lands in the slush pile of rejected work. Keep doing it till you find someone willing to publish it. Patience is key.
  • Meet editors, attend conventions, join a writers group that encourages you to write, join associations and use the Internet to network, get reviews on your work and feedback from potential readers. The more people you meet, the more chances there are of someone publishing your work.
  • Edit your work as much as possible but don’t chase perfection. One of Gaiman’s important writing tips is to put away your short story or novel in a drawer for some time after writing it. Then, write something else. Whenever you feel ready, read your short story or novel as a reader. If you aren’t satisfied with it, fix it as a writer. Gaiman calls this revision.
  • Experiment with your writing. Pen something weird, eccentric or disturbing. Don’t worry about it being good or bad.
  • Read, read and then read some more. Moreover, Gaiman advices aspiring writers to read outside their comfort zone. For example, if you are a romance writer, read a crime novel. If you write fantasy, read philosophy.
  • Live life to the fullest. Real life experiences often serve as inspiration for characters and stories.

Hopefully, these handy tips have inspired you to become (who knows?) the next Neil Gaiman. Now go forth and prosper!

The Writer’s Ultimate Headline Playbook For Creating Great Content

The real writer has always had this one true goal: to write to amuse, entertain and inform the visiting readers, not for search engine rankings or being #1 in page 1 of SERPs. The true passion is in the writing. It always has been. But alas, in this digital world of marketing, how do writers write both for the visitors and the search engines?

They could start by coming up with topics that have been tried and tested with headlines that have been proven to be effective through the years. All we need to do is copy them, rehash them and present them as new. Of course, we won’t violate any plagiarism and copyright laws. We simply keep the basic concepts.

Choose from these classic entries from our writers’ tips and headline playbook:

  1. The ever popular “How To”

The motherlode of headlines, this is one surefire headline that will help people do something. Everybody needs an expert to show us how we can apply it in a practical way. That’s the promise of these headlines. It’s irresistible and we are all suckers.

Examples:

How to Have a Healthier and More Productive Home Office

How to Talk to Your Angriest Customers

  1. The ever reliable “Lists”

Also known as “listicles” these aren’t going away soon. They’re easily digestible and indispensable. There isn’t one single topic in the world that can’t be put in a list. Readers will always be wondering whether what they’re looking for is something within your list. It never fails.

Examples:

14 Ways to Increase Your Clickthrough Rate on Twitter

The Top 10 Jobs That Attract Psychopaths

15 Things Millennials Say That No One Else Understands

  1. Warning/Caution/Advisory: Something

People generally fear something. These signs are certain NOT to be ignored. The words warning, caution and advisory are so powerful, people will read whatever comes after it. Just make sure the “Something” will spark curiosity and be relatable.

Examples:

Warning: Your Blog is Under Attack by Splogs

CAUTION: You’re Not Sweating Your Headlines Enough

  1. The questions have it

This entry uses “Why” or “How” not to ask questions but to put an opinion out and give an explanation. If readers agree with you, they’re hooked. If they disagree, what’s your opinion of it? The more controversial the opinion, the more readers want to see which side you’re on.

Examples:

Why People Share: The Psychology of Social Sharing

How Do I Monetize My Blog (Or Podcast)?

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Something

It’s the ultimate, so readers must know about it because it promises to tell you everything that you want to know. Remember, it’s a GUIDE.

Examples:

The Ultimate Guide to Making More Money in Tech

The Ultimate On-Site SEO Guide for Your Online Store

Use these writers’ tips

One of the best writers’ tips is to be patient. You cannot rush headline and content writing, even if you wanted to and even if it’s writing for search engines. Just focus on what people want and then deliver. The next thing you know, the search engines will be guiding your readers to your next few viral posts.

 

How To Win Against Online Plagiarism

Imagine the scenario: You’ve just finished a beautifully written and well-researched piece of content. You click publish. You reap the rewards and praises from readers. You find out, after a month, your work has been passed up as another person’s original writing.

You’ve just been plagiarized!

But fear not. Modern technology is here to help you from being a victim again. Take these tips for writing and help solve the plagiarism dilemma.

By definition

It’s like borrowing but not really. It’s more of literary theft. And more specifically, cyber-cheating. It’s not accidental. Writers who plagiarize did it deliberately. But even if you do acknowledge your sources in your work, improper or under acknowledgment of sources is still considered plagiarism.

According to Wikipedia, it is a “wrongful appropriation of another author’s language, thoughts, ideas or expressions and representing them as one’s original work.”

Cut, copy and paste with no effort at all.

Is it copyright infringement?

No, there is a difference between the two. Think of plagiarism as the ethical violation while the other one is a legal crime. The acts may be the same, but if you ask a lawyer, he will give you a different interpretation.

Should we stop plagiarism?

Absolutely! It is a crime, after all.

Little do these cunning plagiarists realize how much damage they can do to the original source, (writer, web page, published material).

  • Innocent readers will start to wonder whether the original writer is indeed the original writer. Reputations are at stake.
  • In terms of revenue, the original content will have revenue taken away (example by AdSense).
  • Google’s SEO update will hit the original work while the plagiarized work will get rewarded.
  • It promotes literary creativity stagnation since plagiarists won’t do much research.
  • You lose valuable time by having to detect and prevent plagiarism all the time.

The list could go on.

Tools to help detect plagiarism

It may be impossible to totally eliminate plagiarism, but at least you can prevent it with free tools.

  • Google Search – Just type in a few lines (or the entire text) you suspect has been plagiarized. Look for exact matches.
  • Google Alert – Set it to notify you when there are copycats lurking.
  • Copyscape – Probably the most popular among the rest, Copyscape helps you detect copies of your work with the percentages of the copied work.
  • Plagium – Search for copies of large amounts of your content. It also uses other languages aside from English.
  • Grammarly – is a proof-reading service that analyzes your content and shows you the source of any plagiarized content.

Put up a fight

So what can you do when you find out someone’s been stamping your work as their own?

  1. You can write an email to the site’s webmaster and let them know your discovery. Ask them to take down the copied content.
  1. After a few days of no reply, you can file a report to the major search engines stating your case.
  1. As a last resort, you could file a case with your attorney to have legal action done to the website owners.

Flattery?

Yes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but don’t mistake plagiarism for imitation. It’s a totally different art form. The good news is that there are now laws to help stifle this crime and that search engines do penalize these content thieves.

Content writers should be aware of the proper citation skills they learned in journalism classes. If they don’t know, maybe they should take these tips for writing and do a refresher course in Composition 101.

 

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Why a Writer Without a Deadline Is Looking For Trouble

Writing without a deadline is like beaming a laser light into the night sky. The end cannot be found because the writing will never end. If you don’t give a writer a deadline, he will write and write forever. Doing a change here, adding a detail there. The list goes on. The word deadline has some negative hint to it, too. Take note that it has the word “dead” at the beginning. It might as well be called dreadline – the dreaded deadline. Or it was probably a shortcut to a longer phrase: “I’ll be dead at the end of the line.”

But deadlines can be friendly reminders to do a job well and send in what needs to be sent. They give writer a sense of order amidst the chaos of other articles on queue, or other lined-up work to do including non-writing jobs. Let’s see why deadlines are very important and maybe writers should see it as some serious tips for writing.

The pressure is off

Time management is the key to unlocking the deadline bolt. And so you have a deadline? Give yourself a deadline within what your editor gave you. Make it a few days earlier than the actual date. This way, you can have extra time if an emergency crops up that you cannot get away from. Or if you DO meet your self-imposed deadline, you will have extra days of R&R, self-imposed, of course.

Don’t look at it as a deadline

Imagine that it’s actually a reward when you look at a deadline. This will give you extra motivation because the reward is very satisfying. You get a sense of achievement. Give yourself a pat on the back, good job for sending it on time.

You’ll have a great reputation

If writers meet deadlines, they get to be relied upon to come through with whatever task they’re asked to do. Soon, they will have a reputation of always meeting deadlines. Remember, editors like compliant writers. It takes some of the stress off their load.

Tips for writing with deadlines

  • List down all your writing tasks with the corresponding deadlines. Place your list where you can clearly see it.
  • Tick off each one once you’ve done them.
  • Do the easy tasks first. These require less time to do and less effort. The harder ones need more time and planning.
  • Update your publisher/editor/client with your progress. Give him a draft before sending in the final one.
  • It’s tempting but don’t get more work than you can handle. You’re only human.
  • Stick to your timetable. Even if you’re freelancing, treat it like a normal 9 to 5 job, with rules to follow and tasks to finish.

Conclusion

Not all writers love deadlines. They think it’s restricting. But at the end of the day, it still is a job to do. Something that needs to be done to pay the bills. Practice these tips for writing and meeting deadlines. It’s not easy at first but in time, you will learn to love deadlines. So if you’re serious at being a freelance writer, deadlines should be your best friend and procrastination is your worst enemy. Your BFF will take you away from your comfort zone just to make you meet a deadline. Even if it means isolating you from family, friends, usual luxuries and all other things that can distract you from finishing your work. It’s a tough job, being a best friend, but somebody’s got to do it.

How To Succeed In Writing When You’re Not An Expert In Anything

Niche writers are highly sought after by publications and it’s no secret that businesses are willing to shelve more cash for copywriters who have an authority in their field of expertise than someone who has no clue about what they’re writing.

Wouldn’t you rather hire a writer a retired nurse for a healthcare blog than someone who has no idea about the healthcare system?

Actually, it’s not always the case. Here’s the secret to succeeding in writing when you aren’t an expert in anything: You don’t have to be an expert in anything to succeed in writing. The only skill you need to succeed as a writer is your writing skill. That’s something no one can teach you.

That being said, there are lots of things you can do that will help you succeed in writing when you have zero expertise in any field. Here are some useful tips for writers:

Research, research and more research

Two things will help you become an awesome writer: Your writing skill and lots of research. It’s okay if you don’t know anything about the topic you’re writing. You just need to do ample research and talk to experts in the field. Google is a wonderful tool that can be used to read about any subject. Read articles, blogs and opinionated articles. Then, contact experts in the field to ask for their point of view. In no time, you’ll be able to write an elaborate, well-thought out article.

Similarly, you don’t need to have a college degree in psychology to write about Maslow’s theory of self-actualization or work in finance to pen a blog about mutual funds.

Become a Jack of all trades

I’ve seen several writers who write blogs on varied topics. They aren’t niche writers; they just juggle countless subjects with ease. In fact, this is a good strategy because it enables you to be open to writing about any subject. Would you rather be a Jack of all trades or a master of one?

Being a master in one field is good, but being a Jack of all trades is even better when it comes to the world of freelance writing. One of the most useful tips for writers I’ve come across is to be an expert in multiple fields rather than just one. It increases your employability in a fiercely competitive market.

Sometimes it’s better not to be an expert

To be honest, most editors aren’t willing to hire experts because they are awful writers. Think about it. A veterinary doctor may not necessarily be adept at penning an engaging, reader-friendly and crisp article about veterinary medicine. On the other hand, a writer with little veterinary medicine knowledge may have the writing skills to create an interesting and helpful article.

This is especially true for editors seeking writers to explain how to do something, simplifying complex jargons and giving tips on a subject.

Keep writing on topics you like or know a little about

If you do want to be a bona fide expert in a field, one of the most useful tips for writers that I’ve come across is to write on topics you like or know a little about. Have you ever bought a house? You can certainly write real estate articles. Like sprucing up a room’s décor? You can certainly pen a blog about popular bedsheet designs.

The more you write about something, the more you become an expert in that field.

9 Elements Of Persuasive Content

Why do businesses hire writers? For one and only one reason – To persuade. You’re either selling something, giving information about a product or service, influencing the reader to see your point of view or triggering an emotional response. The point is that words are a powerful tool that can evoke a response.

Professional writers know this.

That’s why content is never random. Writing persuasive content is an essential component of being a successful writer. Fortunately, it’s easy to influence readers. Here are a few useful tips for writers that can help them influence readers:

  1. Catchy headlines

The reason why a reader will click your article over another boils down to your headline. Use a catchy headline rather than a boring one. For example, you’re more likely to pay attention to a headline that says, “6 Things You Never Knew About Potato Chips” rather than “Facts And Information About Potato Chips.”

  1. Add Bullet points or subheadings

Bullet points and subheadings break down text into easily digestible reads. Large, chunky text is harder to read than small paragraphs or bullet points. Remember that readers like to skim through articles before reading them. Attention span is short.

  1. Give important information first

You don’t want your audience to wait till the conclusion to receive the most important information of your article. Give the most essential information at the beginning of your content because if you wait till the end, they’ll be long gone.

  1. Use short sentences

Long sentences confuse readers. They might not even remember what you wrote at the start of the sentence. Short sentences are not only easy to read but they keep copy crisp and clean. Short sentences are powerful.

That being said, you can use long sentences. Just make sure there is a short sentence before and after the long one. It’s perhaps one of the most useful tips for writers.

  1. Use simple words

Avoid using complex terms and jargon unless you’re writing a technical article. Nobody likes fancy words. You might come across as a know-it-all. Content should be light, conversational and simple to read.

  1. Trigger a response

At the end of the day, you want to trigger a response in the reader. It may be an emotional one (laughing or anger), a physical one (buy a product) or a mental one (a change in opinion).

  1. Add an image

The old adage that a picture says a thousand words proves true in content writing too. One of the most useful tips for writers that I’ve come across is to always add an image to the copy. It could be an attractive picture, a diagram elucidating the content or a chart supporting factual information.

  1. State facts but also give your opinion

Professional writers know that facts can serve as the foundation for persuasive content. But facts can be boring. It’s your opinion that will draw the reader in.

  1. Add the you in your writing

Finally, add a dash of personality, a good measure of your writing style and a generous dollop of your unique voice to make the content truly persuasive. When you show your most authentic self to your audience, it increases your credibility and trustworthiness.

In conclusion, persuasive content consists of a catchy headline, bullets or subheadings, short and simple sentences, gives pertinent information in the beginning, avoids jargons, triggers a response, has a nice image, states facts but also has your opinion and has a dash of your personality. Now it’s time to woo your readers.