Continuing the book tour for her new Cassie Scot book, Frozen, author Christine Amsden decided to stop by to share some of her writing tips. As a writer myself, I am really psyched to be sharing her tips with you! Hopefully they are helpful to us all!
10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer
1. Read. Most people start their lists with “write every day” and believe me, that’s number two! But before you do that, and while you do that, you also need to read. Read books you love. That inspire you. Then read them again and study what drew you into that story.
2. Write every day. You can’t escape it. If you want to be a runner, you run every day. If you want to be a singer, you sing every day. And if you want to be a writer, you write every day. I don’t care if you’ve only got fifteen minutes on your lunch break or twenty minutes before bed. Find the time, and make it sacred.
3. Study craft. Confession – as an editor, one of the things that frustrates me most is how often I have to teach an author what point of view is. If these authors had ever picked up a book on how to write fiction, they should know what point of view is. At that point, I could help them refine and perfect their voice, but there are basics you should learn before you shell out money to pay an editor and even before you join a critique group (see #4 below). Read a book on plot, on beginnings, on character, on dialog, and on action. I recommend the Elements of Fiction series, although there are a great many excellent books on writing available.
4. Join a critique group. If you never risk showing your work to other people and receiving feedback, you will never improve. And it’s hard. Believe me, I know! Especially at first, there will be a lot of negative feedback – and some flat-out destructive feedback. “Don’t quit your day job” is something many of us hear at one time or another. Yet you do it, you learn what you can from each encounter, and you improve over your next few lunch breaks. I recommend on-line workshops. I confess that I don’t do well with in-person critique groups for a lot of reasons, including availability of decent groups in my immediate area. But the Internet has opened us up to a world of writers. You can learn Australian English from the Midwest while you both help each other learn to write.
5. Take a class. There are a lot of opportunities to take on-line classes and workshops to help you improve various aspects of craft. These classes can also help you forge connections with other authors who can become part of your critique circle.
6. Start with short stories. As a novel lover myself, this one was tough, but I did spend a year writing exclusively short fiction, then continued to write short stories for many years after that. I no longer do, but writing short stories allowed me to practice craft on a small scale, giving me the opportunity to write and rewrite a smaller piece of fiction over and over again until I got it right. It is also easier to get feedback for a 4,000-word short story than it is for even a 40,000-word novel!
7. Attend a by-audition workshop. If you can, I highly recommend trying to get into some of the high-profile writer’s workshops such as Clarion. Led by experts in the field, you will learn more about writing in a week than you probably did in the previous five years. Also, the networking opportunities are incredible. Keep in mind that the writers attending these workshops all show some promise, or they wouldn’t get it. You’ve weeded out the people who can’t find their way through a coherent sentence with a map and a compass.
8. Submit your work to publishers. Even if you plan to self-publish, practice getting rejected. It’ll be character-building, and you will learn from the process.
9. Hire a good developmental editor. Do not hire a bad developmental editor, or an okay developmental editor. That will make things worse. A good developmental editor is a craft expert. They are not just a glorified critique buddy – the things they say are based on more than opinion, and their intuitive understanding of story structure allows them to perceive the true source of problems that the lay reader can only guess at. Get recommendations. Ask for a sample edit. I personally always do a sample edit of the first chapter or so in order to help us both decide if we’d be a good fit. You need someone you connect with, someone you trust.
10. Persevere. Never give up. It’s a tough world, and there often seem to be more setbacks than successes. Try to stay in touch with the joy of the written word. Let them fill your soul, and to hell with what the world thinks.
About the Author
Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, which scars the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. In addition to being a writer, she's a mom and freelance editor.
Social Media Links:
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Frozen (Cassie Scot Book Seven)
Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married.
When a couple freezes to death on a fifty degree day, Cassie is called in to investigate. The couple ran a daycare out of their home, making preschoolers the key witnesses and even the prime suspects.
Two of those preschoolers are Cassie’s youngest siblings, suggesting conditions at home are worse than she feared. As Cassie struggles to care for her family, she must face the truth about her mother’s slide into depression, which seems to be taking the entire town with it.
Then Cassie, too, is attacked by the supernatural cold. She has to think fast to survive, and her actions cause a rift between her and her husband.
No, life doesn’t end after marriage. All hell can break loose at any time.
Print Release: July 15, 2018
Audiobook Release: TBA
The Cassie Scot Series
(Cassie Scot Book One)
Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot Book Two)
Mind Games (Cassie Scot Book 3)
Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot Book 4)
Madison's Song (Cassie Scot Book 5)
Kaitlin’s Tale (Cassie Scot Book 6)
My reviews of each of the Cassie Scot books except Kaitlin's Tale are linked here, as well as previous guest posts done for the series:
I'd like to extend a massive thank you to Mrs. Amsden for her continuous generosity, allowing me to review this series over the last several years from the very beginning, and for providing these wonderful guest posts to share with you all.
Until next time everyone!