This post is dedicated to a young gentleman named Noah (10 years old), who is writing a science fiction story about the future of mankind. His father, an avid reader and fan of my books, asked if I had any tips for his son. I decided to compile a short list of advice that might inspire and guide a young writer, realizing halfway through— that this is the same basic advice I would give to a new writer of any age.
Good luck, Noah, and all of the new writers out there!
1. Eat lots of vegetables and don’t talk to strangers…sorry kids, a few parents paid me to put this here! By the way, this advice applies to adults more than children.
2. Keep a notebook for ideas and spontaneous writing. If an idea or scenario strikes, starting writing—even if you have no idea where this story will go. If the story doesn’t progress beyond a page of notebook scribbles—no worries—it might be the seed of a great story later. As a writer, the junk drawer doesn’t exist.
3. Write every day. Just a little. OR a lot! If you don’t feel like writing “in a story,” create a character, or draw a character or scene. Continuously create!
4. Do a little research into your story. Feel like a professional…under supervision. Lots of wrong turns to take on the internet…even for adults.
5. Let everyone know you’re writing a story. Seriously. Bottling up or hiding your work is the best way to ensure that it never sees the light of day. People like to read, and they like to read stories. The more people who know you’re a writer, the better! You’ll build an audience of supporters early.
6. When you find a story that you continue to write, it’s time for a plan. Nothing fancy or complicated, just a quick spin beyond what you’ve written. Where do you see the story headed? How do you think it will end? Who are the characters? Can you create a timeline or progression of the story or world you’ve created? This shouldn’t feel like work…even when it’s your job (like mine).
7. Take one series you’ve seen on TV/Movies and read the books. Compare the two in an essay. What did each do better? Worse? As a writer, you want the reading experience to be the better experience.
8. Read as much as you can. This isn’t original advice, but I can’t understate the importance of reading. Novels, essays, novellas or short stories. Exposure to the written word is an essential building block for a writer. Did that sound too obvious? Here’s the thing—I had no idea this was true until I started writing in my late 30’s. When you read, you absorb without studying. You casually examine story telling styles, grammar, sentence construction, plotting…all without spending a second in the classroom. I’ve taken one writing class in my life, a semester of Creative Writing (at the U.S. Naval Academy), but I’ve studied writing, without knowing it, for my entire lifetime.
9.) Always Remember—there are worse ways to make a living!