Part 1

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#1 - Never make major changes to a story when tired. I did this - changing names - and ended up in an even bigger pickle than when I started. Wait until you feel relatively awake.

#2 - Find a method that works for you - with or without music, with or without silence. Just make sure that when you’re writing with music on, you don’t start putting music lyrics and soundtrack lists in your story. Nobody cares. And you’ll inevitably change your mind later anyway.

#3 - If listening to music, don’t get your thoughts mixed up with the song and start writing the words to the song by mistake. I’ve done this many a time and only noticed later. It’s very annoying.

#4 - Always spell check as you go. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to edit a finished novel only to discover a random, odd, nonsensical word in the middle of a sentence. Autocorrect sucks! And it can change normal words that have been misspelled into something alien and confusing. There are some where I still can’t work out what the original word or words were supposed to be.

#5 - If you’re stuck in a story, make it up as you go along. It doesn’t matter how silly or boring or stupid it sounds, just keep writing. As long as you keep writing, you will eventually come to a part where you know exactly what you want to say. You can always go back and change the stupid part in editing.

#6 - Don’t panic! Everything can be fixed when you edit. And no edit is the final edit until it goes to print. Then it’s too late. Until then, you have plenty of time.

#7 - Don’t over edit! Don’t spend nights tossing and turning over whether or not a sentence sounds smart or proper. Don’t fuss over sentence structure, moving this piece over there or trying to make it sound like a work of art. In editing, you can only spend so much time on these things. Flow, character traits etc, these are important in the beginning but after a while, if it’s not a grammar or spelling mistake, you’ve probably done enough.

#8 - Keep it relevant. You may have written two pages or absolute gold, but if it doesn’t fit into the overall story, then it’s for the trash. You editor or publisher will want it cut. That doesn’t mean you have to chuck it. Just save it for another story, where it does fit.

#9 - Without an ending, your story has nowhere to go. It’s all well and good knowing where you want the story to go, but unexpected twists and additions during writing can change the course of a story unless you know exactly where it’s going in the first place.

#10 - Always check your Title matches the story when you’re done. Unexpected developments along the way can sometimes change the entire scope of the story. It can make your previous title obsolete.

#11 - Choose your lead character early on. You need to know whose story is most important.

#12 - If you are writing a series, you need to decide if every book is going to focus on the same lead character, or a different one. It’s important that your readers know what to expect. You don’t want them to fall in love with your main character and then be disappointed that they don’t get to see them again.

#13 - In a series, try to end each book with a conclusion of some sort. It’s fine to end a book with a cliff-hanger and some questions unanswered, as long as you DO intend to answer them later.

#14 - Beware of plot gaps. Always stay vigilant.

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