How to improve your writing

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by Tim Burdick on 01 July, 2014

Once I thought my favorite authors wrote their books in their secret hideaways, and then months later, their masterpieces were published.

But, this is a myth. Writers don’t work alone. They get feedback as they work on their stories. When they are done and published, probably, even then, they fight the urge to go back and change parts of their books.

Getting the proper feedback has been a big step forward in my ability to create better stories.

My first draft of Tommy and the Manawar’s Eye was only eight pages long. Since I had never written a children’s book, this length was acceptable. A friend read it and his first comment was: “Your story is too short. On page two, your hero is lost. On page three, he’s captured, but by page four, he’s escaped his cage. Page five the monsters chase him. Pages six and seven present the climax. Finally, page eight is the ending with the bully.”

At the same time, I had given the book to my boss for feedback and her comment was: “It’s a cute Harry Potter-like story.”


The first piece of advice helped to me to develop the conflict, while the second was useless. So, I joined an on-line writer’s group where I learned about giving and receiving useful feedback. Positive comments (“I like the characters. Good story) are nice to keep your spirits lifted, but they don’t help to remove the flaws in your characters.

But, still I had unrealistic expectations, I wanted my readers to pick out every little grammatical mistake and turn my early drafts into lean well written stories. Finally, one writer commented that my writing needed editing. I sighed in frustration. Yea, tell me something I don’t know already. She shared her own writing experience about how she hired an editor to do the final revisions of her story.

Now when I approach readers/editors/feedback givers, I ask them to do a specific task: edit, review plot structure or check specific chapters.

But, when the book is ready, I will give it to an editor to do a final line edit for grammatical mistakes, missing words, and commas.

And then, it will be finished!

Unless, I find something I want to change.

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