Ayli’s Cheat Sheet of One-Liner Writing Tips

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve written a post for you guys here. Sorry I’ve been MIA, I’m hoping to get back into the groove of things over the next few months. (I’m not used to actually keeping busy, so I’ve gotta learn to juggle.)

To make up for my neglect, I’ve compiled this handy-dandy list of little things to keep in mind when writing, something for you to revisit every once in a while when you feel the need to refresh yourself.

You ready? Then without further ado, here they are:

25 one-liner writing tips!

  1. Show, don’t tell; try replacing statements of “feel/felt” with visual cues.
  2. Varying your sentence length creates interest; using a lot of same-syllable sentences creates monotony.
  3. If something sounds wrong to you, trust your gut and rework it.
  4. Speech is rarely prim and proper; people use conjunctions and slang and improper grammar, and sometimes don’t finish their thoughts.
  5. Avoid repetition of previously stated knowledge, unless for dramatic effect.
  6. Your secondary characters are just as real as your protagonists, and deserve just as much depth.
  7. Always start writing with a goal, and hold yourself accountable to its completion.
  8. If you’re going to focus on any one detail, make sure it holds some sort of significance, either to the plot or the character.
  9. Body language can say just as much as dialogue, and sometimes even more.
  10. Failure is still worth writing about if there is a lesson to be learned from it.
  11. Avoid the info-dump; reveal all necessary details over time or, better yet, reveal them through actions.
  12. What a person is wearing is rarely useful information; describe to us the details that set the mood and/or say something stronger about who this character is.
  13. If you feel the need to consult a thesaurus, stick to more common, well-known words; if your readers need to look it up, it’s not getting your point across effectively.
  14. Avoid the use of “very”; just find a stronger adjective!
  15. Nobody is perfect, nor should your characters be.
  16. If you can say what you want in fewer words, try that.
  17. Semicolons are used to conjoin independent clauses; em dashes—such as these—are used for a break or sudden change in thought.
  18. The worst thing you can do for your hero is hand them the solution, they have to earn it!
  19. Before you kill a character, ask yourself: why must they die? (I’m breaking the one-line rule to throw it out there that, if your answer is “For tension!” then the death is not necessary.)
  20. End your chapters with the suggestion of new information, something to keep your readers hooked.
  21. Sometimes, we need the calm in-between scenes to give us time to reflect and settle down with the characters.
  22. It’s important to use your senses when describing scenes, but you should also limit this; if it feels like you’re running down a checklist, the reader will notice.
  23. Save the self-editing for a second—or even third—draft; just get the ideas out!
  24. There is only so far a reader will suspend their disbelief; even in fantasy, an untreated wound is a guaranteed amputation.
  25. If you’re writing about a topic you have no personal experience with, remember: do your research.

And that’s that! I tried my best to cover most of the bases, but I’m sure there are many things that I missed. Either way, I hope this list offered you at least something to think about, and if not, then hey! Congrats! You know all this stuff.

But that’s it for now! Until next time.

writing tips

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