Kate Waters - Children's Book Author

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Writing Tips

There are many, many ways to improve your writing. You may find some of these tips helpful when you are writing fiction stories and others helpful when you are writing nonfiction stories and reports.

The only guaranteed way to become a better writer is to practice, practice, practice and to read, read, read.


Keep a writerís journal. This is not a diary. It is a place to write down story ideas, interesting conversations you have overheard, lists of fun words, clues you gather about writing from reading authors you like, and questions you have about your world.

Make sure that you have a good dictionary. I use a dictionary to look up spellings and meanings, and also to flip through to find interesting new words.

Learn how to do research. Most stories, both fiction and nonfiction, require some research. If you are writing a science fiction story, you may have to research what kinds of sunsets your characters might see on Jupiter. If you are writing a historical story, you might have to know what kinds of clothes people wore in the time period. Good writers know how to use their library and the Internet to do research.

Experiment with many kinds of writing. It is not necessary, or a good idea, to specialize. Try writing a poem or a song. Try writing a story in first person and then in third person. You will discover that every form of writing has advantages.

Exercise your imagination. When you see interesting people, try to imagine what it would be like to be them. If you are writing about a different time period, try to forget about the things invented since then and imagine what life was like then.

Gather first-hand information. Writers are curious about many things. Talk to adults you know about their lives. Learning to interview people is a good way to learn to listen Ė and if you get in the habit of listening, you will gather bits and pieces of information for your stories.

When you start a story, you donít have to finish it. But keep all your story drafts. Most writers I know have drawers of stories they are working on.

When you finish a story, read it out loud to yourself. Hearing your words will help you discover spots that need fixing or words that donít sound right.

Proofread everything you write before you share it with other people. A good way to proofread is to read your story backwards, looking at every word . Reading backwards helps you read without getting caught up in the meaning of sentences.

And remember, good writers are curious people who read a lot, listen carefully, and look up answers to their questions. The best way to become a better writer is to practice and read. You will discover that making a good story and sharing it with other people is one of the most satisfying things you can do.

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