The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

maggie lindstrom


Tips That Could Immediately Improve Your Writing (Part 1)

Throughout my writing journey, I have received incredible advice, tips, and guidance that has completely changed my work and I will be forever grateful for. Here are a few that I frequently come back to as well as a few that I learned through trial and error.

1.) Reader first.

This was one of the first pieces of advice that I heard, and it teaches that you are writing for your reader first and foremost. As you write you should never think about what your parents will think about this chapter or what your future agent will tear apart about it. I had ‘reader first’ written on a sticky note that I kept on my computer for several months so I could frequently be reminded of it.

2.) Rarely if ever use the word ‘suddenly’.

Before I even started writing my book, I frequently saw comments from writers on social media talking about how they just can’t help themselves from starting an action sequence with ‘suddenly’ and how much they tried to resist using it because there are so many other better ways to start that scene. So, I have done my best to keep the habit of using ‘suddenly’ away before it grows.

3.) Write what you like to read about.

This one feels obvious, but it is one of the most important. When choosing a genre to write about, make sure to choose one that you have experience reading and have actively enjoyed. If you are a huge fan of young adult fiction (like me), maybe don’t try and write a historical nonfiction book about the Cold War. Everything simply goes much easier this way and is much more fun for you as the writer.


I always knew that reading was important if you wanted to be a talented writer, but I never truly believed it until I began writing my own book. Never stop reading, especially while in the process of writing your first draft. During the first month of writing my book, I felt like I was too busy to both read and write, so I prioritized writing. I didn’t pick up a book until I was a quarter of the way into my rough draft (I read the Maze Runner series), and it was then that I truly figured out the importance of reading. I took mental notes of how the author, James Dashner, began chapters, created depth to his characters, balanced different levels of description, set up plot twists, built tension, and much, much more. This drastically improved my writing and eased my doubts about some techniques I was using as well as made me realize what I needed to change.

5.) Listen to music that gives off the vibe of the scene you are working on or what you were listening to while brainstorming.

I personally figured this one out on my own (though I imagine I’m not the first to discover this), but I enjoy listening to music while I write, especially songs that put me in the mood of the scene. If I’m writing an action-packed, tension-filled chapter, I listen to faster, more intense music (usually piano or instrumental music). Similarly, if I am pushing against writers block, I listen to the music I was listening to when I first began brainstorming about my characters and plot.

6.) Do not end a sentence with a preposition.

I learned this from my dad last year while he helped me edit an essay that I was working on for English class, and it has stuck with me ever since. If you are particularly inclined to flawless grammar, this might seem obvious to you, but it is not something that is taught in many english classes. It is not grammatically incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition, but it is a little less formal and staying away from that habit when possible will give your writing a sense of professionalism that is absolutely crucial for a budding writer new to the writing world.

7.). Tell your friends and family that you are writing a book.

I think I read this on the internet somewhere, but I did as the article said and told my parents and best friends that I began writing a book and intended to eventually publish it. This absolutely made me more inclined to finish it because if I ever thought about quitting, I thought something along the lines of “No, you can’t quit now, you told everyone you were going to finish. You don’t want to seem like a quitter, do you?”

8.) A couple clichés are not necessarily bad, but don’t let your writing fill up with them.

My mom taught me this one by explaining how she doesn’t mind a story that is similar to another because, if she reads a story that she really enjoys, she wants to read more like it. When I began writing I grew increasingly anxious that my story idea wasn’t completely unique, that my characters were cliché, and that nobody would want to publish my work. This led me into a struggle to make everything completely different than anything done before and, frankly, there’s a reason that some things haven’t been done. Just write authentically and don’t worry about what other people have written as long as you aren’t blatantly trying to copy anyone.

9.) Your first priority should be making full, interesting characters for your readers to root for. The plot should come secondary and can be easily revised.

This sounded crazy to me when I first read this on an article on the internet, but when I actually began writing I understood what they meant. I felt (and still feel) like my characters do not have a strong enough dynamic, and this just makes the entire book crash and burn. Readers might pick up your book for the plot, but they read it for the characters and the plot is nothing without strong characters.

Sneak peak: next post will be more tips that I have received.

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