4 Core Ways to Develop Good Writing Habits

Have you ever gathered all kinds of information for a life story and sat wondering how to start? Thinking a way through can be a great help.  With any kind of writing I keep in mind the mnemonic devise, CORE. It can help writing either a short story or a longer piece of fiction.

Recently I completed a historical novel. It is much like writing a biography as far as organizing one’s ideas and then writing and editing the text.  In some past blogs about story writing, I’ve given tips on how to collect useful resources but not on how to get on with the job.   For me, the CORE of writing is essentially this: each time I find that I follow  FOUR steps in producing a story.

You can

  1. Collect resources –  books, photos, pictures,internet resources and any useful discussions noted.
  2. Organise  these as needed chronologically or by events . One picture led me to writing a novel!
  3. Write your story and Revise the way you have done it  by Re-reading it.
  4. Edit for correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. This is proof reading and helps improve the quality of your writing. You can also use a professional editor.

Collecting information can be done by recording interesting information- an interview with the person you admire or a talk you heard about the subject ( if it is to be a true story). I have spent a year reading books and collecting useful resources and making cards, I can refer to . This also helps if one wants to list references in a book. You might find useful photos in your own albums but also some interesting world events on the internet. Old pictures are now more available there to give a feel for the time.  I needed a Delaware man and found the right picture on a First Nations website.

Once you’ve collected information, start to organise how you will use it in your writing. One old family group photo  prompted me to write about a person’s early life. But someone else’s story could start with  a significant incident . With one professional musician, I used his ‘bio’ in a program to introduce the man and lead to the person behind it.I saw it as a way to hook my readers. A family history about someone being captured in 1780 was a wonderful way to start a novel for young adults.

Having an idea how to organize the life story will help you write more fluently.When I have written a chapter, I read it over to try to see what words I needed to revise it in order to improve my own writing The result was to make the story clearer .  I try to put myself in my reader’s place and give him or her the most accurate view of my subject or of an event. If I am retelling someone’s story, I make sure that I use his words. Using conversation brings a story alive too.

When I have written several chapters, I ask a friend to look at it, as it is good to have another opinion. One friend did a detailed editing job for me as she read 4 or 5 chapters at a time. This is the editing job.   I needed to improve my own writing using more appropriate punctuation even after my friend and I had revised the text. I applied my CORE method to this bit of writing. Some of the best editing can be done when you read your story OUT LOUD, especially if it a short story with a punch line. See how it comes across. I always do this writing a picture book.

When you have followed through these steps, you may find that you can write more fluently, fell more confident about your work and come to be a better writer.  After producing twelve books, I am still learning! Now I have to learn to make an ebook to put up on my website.

When it comes to printing your story, the CORE method still helps. You have to choose the best layout; printers often do adult books in size 6 inches by 9 inches. then you have to choose where to put relevant pictures (using insert in MS Word documents and formatting the size.)

Doing this, you are organizing your pages in the layout.You also need to plan for a dedication page and acknowledgements to those who helped you by reading the book etc. Part of your organization is listing any references at the end of a book When you have organized them at first, it is no problem.

Be prepared to revise anything to improve the final product. When your rough print copy comes there is still room to revise it.

Bring your efforts to an end only when you are satisfied with the cover, the look of the book or life story and all your pictures and references. I had several people read my book, edit mistakes and suggest improvements. It took me 10 months to produce one doctor’s life story and two years to finish a historical novel Two at the Crossroads about two women Catharine Malott Girty and Tecumapese, Tecumseh’s sister.  But it was worth it to see how mush people enjoyed the story told through the eyes of two strong women who lived about 2oo years ago, during the War of 1812-14.

I hope you can use CORE to help you produce a story. Then you will be ready to print it for others to enjoy.

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