Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sharpening Your Writing Skills

Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

This is what we’re striving for, right? We yearn to be proficient writers, able to weave words into such beautiful masterpieces, that readers will demand more. Between the dream and reality is a lot of hard work!

Regardless of how far we progress as writers, there’s much to learn. The skill to manipulate words into sentences is only the first step. The characters and story must sizzle—become good or evil, depending on how successfully the writer breathes life into them. Some of this is talent, but to be published, one must also have sharpened skills.

We’ve discussed the necessity of possessing good writing books, as well as attending writing conferences. Along with networking opportunities, nothing educates or prepares you for publication better than attending a conference.

But, suppose you can’t afford the cost of a conference? Perhaps your family looks at your writing as a hobby. Justifying a hundred dollars or so even for a local weekend conference is difficult. I know because that’s what the first conference I attended cost.

The next best thing is to resource writers, further along in their career than you, who can give you the benefit of their knowledge, education, and hard knocks. If you’re willing to dedicate a couple hours a week to writing education, your work will become more polished. It won’t be long before you have your first published piece. If you’re already published, this will push you to the next level—perhaps even a book contract.

I mentioned Writing Fiction Right in last week’s Writers’ Corner. The archives are a treasure trove of writing information.

Camy Tang is among the top writing gurus in Christian fiction. Her story sensei website is chock full of writing tips, articles, and exercises to hone your skills. Exercise worksheets are available for purchase on subjects like deeper POV, writing a synopsis, and characterization. The prices range from $5 to $15 for these in-depth worksheets. (Believe me, they are in-depth. I purchased the synopsis worksheet two years ago.) Take a look at her blog for an extensive listing of free articles and worksheets.

American Christian Fiction Writers is a great organization to join. For $45 a year, members have access to critique groups, free monthly writing workshops, and archived lessons. Members include published and unpublished writers, agents, and editors. ACFW has recently launched a new monthly magazine filled with writing industry news, which is free with membership.

Many more writing websites exist, but resourcing the three I’ve mentioned will keep you busy for quite a while.

Now more than ever before, a writer with access to the Internet has a gold mine of free or low-cost information at their fingertips to improve their craft.

Challenge yourself to set a goal of at least one hour a week in education. When your family sees your first published article, maybe they’ll understand your determination for a successful writing career. Attending your first writing conference might be the next step.

If you have a writing question you'd like answered or want to share a thought, please post it in the comment section below. I'd love to hear from you. If you'd like a free email subscription to this blog, take a moment to type your email address into the "subscribe" box in the upper right column.

I'm giving away a copy of "How Do You Kill 11 Million People?" by Andy Andrews. To be eligible for the drawing, simply leave a comment on one of my three blog posts this week. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Thanks so much for the shout out, Laura!!!

    1. You're welcome, Camy. Your website is amazing and so is your writing. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Thanks Laura for the good tips and information.

  3. Excellent work.. I figure out some very best writing skills from your article