So now you’re a writer. You’ve written a story and, although it may not have been published, you completed it and are actually pretty proud of it. Now what? Do you hover over the story looking for errors? Hire an editor? Try to get the material published? Start a new work? Since you’re just starting your writing career, one of the best paths to take is to write as much as possible. Though you have finished one complete work, you still have a long way to go to improve your skill set. Writing every day can help improve your skill set quicker, but learning the mechanics and fine-tune skills of a seasoned writer takes time and experience.
Where do you go from here then? You’ve decided you’re proud of yourself for completing a story, and you should be, but what tools can you use to help you improve your next plot, characters, mechanics, setting, theme, motif, or foreshadowing? There are many online and book resources out there to help beginning writers get a better grasp on their style and skills. With all of the millions of choices, though, which ones are the best or most help to a wide variety of writers? Let’s explore how to improve your technique through some excellent resources.
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner was a book I read for my first writing class in college. It changed the way I thought about writing, how I wrote, and how I thought about story structure in general. This book taught me all the basics while pushing me to improve upon my basic skill set. There was useful advice on every page of the book and I really appreciated that the book was structured for beginning writers. This book provided me with a huge amount of new information I had previously never come across. I would recommend to any writer embarking on his or her career to take a look at this book.
Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee may sound like a book for up-and-coming screenwriters but it is equally useful for writers of fiction. One of my earliest writing professors at university instructed the class to read this book and it opened up our eyes to innumerable techniques, skills and viewpoints. The book aided me in the construction of my skill set and the structure of my fictional narratives in a similar method to the structure of a screenplay. I vividly imagined my story unfolding as if it were a theater play. Story allows fiction writers to step outside the status quo and consider the fictional novel as a movie: there are characters, a story arc, a setting, a conflict, a theme and a resolution. This book is simple for beginners to comprehend and pushes them to think of writing in new and absorbing ways. Story is an experience for a beginning writer looking to improve their technique.
Grammarly is an all-encompassing, mechanics-driven, grammar checking, proofreading, and writing technique website that can help you improve your skills quickly and accurately. I’ve talked to many seasoned writers, and they’ve been impressed at how much they’ve learned about grammar, punctuation, and writing overall by using Grammarly. One of the best parts of Grammarly are their online teaching tools. These tools will help you from basic sentence structure to extremely complicated grammar and punctuation. They can help you look for better synonyms while also teaching you about your most common mistakes, and style. Overall, Grammarly helps beginning writers learn easily and quickly while also giving them tools for the future like a grammar checker or proofreader.
In my writing career, I’ve found these resources to be the most helpful. For every writer, there are make-it-or-break-it resources that push them ahead or pull them back. You, as a beginning writer, need to read and write as much as possible to learn what you need to improve on, how to improve on it, and act on improving it. For all of the millions of resources out there, there’s an equal amount of writers trying to make it. Take the time to build up your technique and skill set and your writing will improve quickly and beautifully.
By Nikolas Baron
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Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.