take no shit 2014
Literally the most important writing advice there is. All writers should take heed.
What is tone?
Tone refers to an author’s use of words and writing style to convey his or her attitude towards a topic. Tone can be defined as what the author feels about the subject. What the reader feels is known as the mood.
Tip: Don’t confuse tone with voice. Voice can be explained as the author’s personality expressed in writing. Tone = Attitude. Voice = Personality.
Tone (attitude) and voice (personality) create a writing style. You may not be able to alter your personality but you can adjust your attitude. This gives you ways to create writing that affects your audience’s mood.
Tone is conveyed through diction (choice and use of words and phrases), viewpoint, syntax (grammar; how you put words and phrases together), and level of formality. It is the way you express yourself in speech or writing.
How do you find the correct tone?
You can usually find a tone by asking these three questions:
- Why am I writing this?
- Who is my intended audience?
- What do I want the reader to learn, understand, or think about?
In formal writing, your tone should be clear, concise, confident, and courteous. The writing level should be sophisticated, but not pretentious.
In creative writing, your tone is more subjective, but you should always aim to communicate clearly. Genre sometimes determines the tone.
If you are writing for fun, and if you don’t want any help, please write any way that works for you. I am not trying to convert you to writing with a plan. It truly does not matter to me how you write. However, if you are struggling to finish a book that makes sense, I would love you to carry on reading.
Why should you do it?
When I used to teach Writers Write regularly, one of the first things I asked students was: How does your story end? I did this for two reasons. Firstly, as much as some people love the idea of working with meandering storylines, it has been my experience that those writers seldom finish writing a coherent book. Secondly, most people who go to workshops or sign up for courses are truly looking for help, and I’ve learned that the best way to succeed in anything in life is to have a plan. Successful people will tell you that you need to know where you’re going before you begin.
Smell the roses
This does not mean that you can’t take time to smell the roses, or explore hidden paths along the way. It simply means that you always have a lifeline and when you get lost, it will be easier for you to find your way back again. Remember that readers like destinations. They love beginnings, middles, and endings. Why do you think fans are terrified that George R.R. Martin will die before he finishes A Song of Fire and Ice? They want to know how the story ends.
Here are seven reasons why I suggest you write your ending first.
- If you know who the characters are at the end of the story, you will know how much you should reveal about them at the beginning.
- You will be forced out of the ‘backstory hell’ that beginner writers inhabit and into the story the reader wants to read.
- Hindsight is an amazing thing. We all know how different life seems when we’re looking back. We can often tell where a problem began. We think about the ‘what ifs’ with the gift of hindsight. You can use this to your advantage in fiction writing.
- You will have something to work towards. Instead of aimlessly writing and hoping for the muse to show you the way, you will be able to pull the characters’ strings and write the words they need to get them from the beginning through the middle to the end.
- Plotting from the ending backwards saves you so much time because you will leave out stuff that isn’t meant to be there. You will not have to muddle through an overwritten first draft.
- Writing the end forces most of us out of our comfort zones. We have to confront the reality of what we are doing. It might not be as romantic as flailing around like a helpless maiden, but if you want writing to be your profession, it’s good to make the outcome visible. This is a way to show yourself that you are serious. The end gives you a goal to work towards.
- The ending is as important as the beginning. Good beginnings get people to read your first book. Great endings get readers to buy your second book.
There are a handful of famous authors, like Stephen King and George R.R. Martin, who say they don’t plot. I think they just don’t realise they are those rare authors – natural born storytellers, and that plotting is instinctive for them. I have interviewed many successfully published authors and I can revel that the majority of them do believe in plotting. They outline, in varying degrees, before they begin. And yes, most of them know what their ending will be. Why don’t you try it? What have you got to lose?
I truly hope this helps you write, and finish, your book.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy 10 (Amazingly Simple) Tips to Get You Back on The Writing Track and The Author’s Promise- two things every writer should do. You could also read The Top 10 Tips for Plotting and Finishing a Book.
Happy Birthday, Tobias Wolff, born 19 June 1945
- A true piece of writing is a dangerous thing. It can change your life.
- I’ve allowed some of these points to stand, because this is a book of memory, and memory has its own story to tell. But I have done my best to make it tell a truthful story.
- Perhaps that is why the novel flourished in England. You had these communities that would stay put and people would see one another all the time and cause one another to change and have the opportunity to observe the changes over time.
- Time, which is your enemy in almost everything in this life, is your friend in writing.
- There are very few professions in which people just sit down and think hard for five or six hours a day all by themselves. Of course it’s why you want to become a writer — because you have the liberty to do that, but once you have the liberty you also have the obligation to do it.
- Rhyme is bullshit. Rhyme says that everything works out in the end. All harmony and order. When I see a rhyme in a poem, I know I’m being lied to. Go ahead, laugh! It’s true—rhyme’s a completely bankrupt device. It’s just wishful thinking. Nostalgia.
- I believe that the short story is as different a form from the novel as poetry is, and the best stories seem to me to be perhaps closer in spirit to poetry than to novels.
- There’s a joy in writing short stories, a wonderful sense of reward when you pull certain things off.
- In writing you work toward a result you won’t see for years, and can’t be sure you’ll ever see. It takes stamina and self-mastery and faith. It demands those things of you, then gives them back with a little extra, a surprise to keep you coming. It toughens you and clears your head. I could feel it happening. I was saving my life with every word I wrote, and I knew it.
- There’s no right way to tell all stories, only the right way to tell a particular story.
Wolff is an American author. He is known for his memoirs, particularly This Boy’s Life, and his short stories. He has also written two novels.
by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write
“My job is to love you, no matter what.”
The best writers have always known that the reason we write is to communicate.If you write to impress, you will fail. You will simply show your inexperience or ignorance as a writer. If you use an elaborate style, full of big words and jargon, you are showing your insecurity with expressing yourself. You will lose your message, and yourself, in the mess of words you’ve created.Try to use simple words to express complex ideas. You will be amazed at how many people respond to your writing.We decided to choose 30 quotes from famous writers in history to show that this wisdom is timeless.30 Famous Historical Quotes On Writing in Plain Language
- Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words. ~Apocrypha
- Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style. ~Matthew Arnold
- To simplify complications is the first essential of success. ~George Earle Buckle
- When you wish to instruct, be brief. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind. ~Cicero
- Words in prose ought to express the intended meaning; if they attract attention to themselves, it is a fault; in the very best styles you read page after page without noticing the medium. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ~Leonardo da Vinci
- Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction. ~Albert Einstein
- The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words. ~George Eliot
- Whenever we can make 25 words do the work of 50, we halve the area in which looseness and disorganization can flourish. ~Wilson Follett
- Anyone who wishes to become a good writer should endeavour to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid. ~H.W. Fowler
- The finest words in the world are only vain sounds if you can’t understand them. ~Anatole France
- The most important lesson in the writing trade is that any manuscript is improved if you cut away the fat. ~Robert Heinlein
- The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words. ~Hippocrates
- The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. ~Hans Hofmann
- The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. ~Thomas Jefferson
- A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who instead of aiming a single stone at an object takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit. ~Samuel Johnson
- Use familiar words—words that your readers will understand, and not words they will have to look up. No advice is more elementary, and no advice is more difficult to accept. When we feel an impulse to use a marvellously exotic word, let us lie down until the impulse goes away. ~James J. Kilpatrick
- Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity. ~Charles Mingus
- The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms. ~George Orwell
- The letter I have written today is longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it shorter. ~Blaise Pascal
- Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood. ~William Penn
- The shorter and the plainer the better. ~Beatrix Potter
- One should aim not at being possible to understand, but at being impossible to misunderstand. ~Quintilian
- Men of few words are the best men. ~William Shakespeare
- A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. ~William Strunk and E. B. White
- The trouble with so many of us is that we underestimate the power of simplicity. ~Robert Stuberg
- As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out. ~Mark Twain
- Use the smallest word that does the job. ~E.B. White
- Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people. ~William Butler Yeats
- Writing improves in direct ratio to the things we can keep out of it that shouldn’t be there. ~William ZinsserIf you want to learn how to write in order to communicate, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about our business writing course, The Plain Language Programme.