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Techniques, Tips and Advice for New Writers (from Online Writing Course)

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Craig Lock"The foundations of successful writing are within anyone's grasp. The only way to do it is to do it." -
- Tom Clancy

"My greatest good fortune was that I didn't know that I was doing everything wrong. If I'd have done a single right thing I probably would have failed. If I'd known how hard - statistically speaking - it is to get a first novel published, I might have given up. What success means is really looking failure in the face and tossing the dice anyway. You may be the only person who knows the dice came up, but in that knowledge you have something that millions of people will never have - because they were afraid to try." 
- Tom Clancy (again)

"There is no perfect time to write. There is only the present." 
- Barbara Kingsolver

"Dreams are the stuff that make life worth living. Give them up and you give up all that truly matters."

"The art in writing is rewriting."

Never fall in love with your first draft - rewrite.

"You MUST believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself and your talent and your ability to succeed, then you can't expect others to believe in you."
- Joan Nixon

People often write to preserve a family's history. You too can learn about the richness of your family background.

Nice word dat 'dingbat'. Marie invented it to describe some of the dear and kindly inhabitants of "Sleepy Hollow".

Write what you care about and understand. The simple truth is that all good books will eventually find a publisher, if a writer tries hard enough.

The central secret is to write a book people like you will enjoy reading. 
- Richard Patterson

"Write from your own passion, your own truth. That's the only thing you really know a lot about. Anything else leads you away from the pulse."
- Marianne Williamson

"Courage matters as much as talent. A real writer doesn't consider giving up as an option."
- Marianne Williamson

"Gustave Flaubert said it best: 'We do not choose our subjects, they choose us'."
- Josephine Hart

"Writers come from every walk of life and every background. An excellent editor once told me the secret of good fiction is to place flesh on the bones of an ordinary story and to drive it with strong characterisations." 
- Steve Martini

Write about the most embarrassing moment in your life. Write a poem of 10 lines, then discuss the next day in class.  ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE was initially rejected by 122 publishers. Since then it has never been out of print. Ideal length of a book is +- 200 pages. Publishers have rejected previously published novels, eg. "controversial" NZ writer, Alan Duff.

"You can't build a reputation on what you're goin to do."
- Henry Ford

Story flows from character. Character is the most important ingredient in any fiction story. A good plot with lousy characters is a lousy book. But a mediocre plot with strong characters makes enjoyable reading."
- Robert Cormier

"Listen to the way people talk. If your characters sound real the rest is easy."
- David Eddings

Edit and rewrite - until you get it down on paper, there's nothing to work on. "Even garbage can be improved."

There is no shortcut to writing a good novel. The publisher doesn't want to hear about the idea, but to see the book."
- Richard Patterson

"My manuscript is the only thing over which I have absolute control."
- Sandra Brown

"Writing is hard work. But very enjoyable hard work and completely satisfying - even though one is never completely satisfied with one's efforts."
- Colleen McCullough

Trust your own instincts.

"Be bold. Thrust forward. Have the courage to make mistakes, even to fail. Nobody is going to die, if your efforts aren't perfect."
- Garrison Keillor

When you want to quit:

Put your manuscript away for a time. Go off and "shoot pool", watch TV, fish - do whatever you want to do and see what happens. If the urge to write goes away, you have no problem. If it doesn't, you'd better resign yourself to the idea you'll never be happy, unless you are a writer."
- Garrison Keillor 

"If you have a masterpiece within you, you'd better save it on paper. Otherwise one thing is for sure - none of us will ever miss it."
- Steve Martini

"Courage matters as much as talent. A real writer doesn't consider giving up as an option."
- Marianne Williamson

A glimmer of hope for me then!

"When a new writer says to me 'I give up - it's too hard', I reply, 'Fine, give up' and if the recipient of this advice takes it without flinching, I know there was no real writer there to begin with."
- Steven Bach

"Write for yourself, not for social recognition or financial success. If you're any good, they will come. But the work itself must be your primary and major satisfaction."
- William Heffernan

Mastering the technical bits:

"Begin with a great opening sentence. Make frequent use of sensory perception. Use strong active verbs. One good verb is better at description than a clutter of adverbs and adjectives."
- Joan Nixon

If you have a wonderful idea, don't talk about it to friends and relatives. Write it down. Don't discuss, nor spend too much time with writing groups. "Start each fresh day by rewriting the last page of where you stopped yesterday."
- Patrick McManus

"Always stop for the night at the point where you know exactly what the next paragraph will be. "It avoids the blank stare when you're rewriting."
- William Heffernan

Dont tell - SHOW

"Don't be too miserable, if your first efforts aren't any good. Stick at it. Keep reading and writing and learning, as it's the only way you'll improve."
- Alexandra Ripley

"Don't be afraid to discard work you know isn't up to standard. Don't save junk, just because it took you a long time to write it."
- David Eddings

"Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep believing. You may never make it big; but at least you know you gave it your best shot."
- David Eddings (again)

And to end off, here is a wonderful philosophy for new writers...

"There is no perfect time to write, there is only the present. She's right. If we wait for everything to be perfect, we can spend our whole life waiting."
- Barbara Kingsolver

and finally...

"I write because something inside myself, inner and unconscious forces me to." That is the first compulsion. The second is one of ethical and moral duty. I feel responsible to tell stories that inspire readers to consider more deeply who they are."

I hope that the above tips from Thomas Clark are helpful to you and that is why I am sharing them.

Happy writing

Craig Lock

All proceeds go to needy and underprivilileged children - MINE!

"The world would have you agree with its dismal dream of limitation. But the light would have you soar like the eagle of your sacred visions." 
- Alan Cohen

Writing Course: (the "original" online creative writing course)

P.S: Don't worry about the world ending today... it's already tomorrow in "little" scenic and tranquil New Zealand

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