Kevin Nelson

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Category: Writing: Tips & Advice

How to be a Better Writer

Hemingway’s advice for writing well was simple: Run it through the typewriter one more time. We no longer have typewriters but the advice is still sound.

Ernest Hemingway, as a young man.

Almost without fail a second draft is better than a first. It is shorter, tighter, and less of a strain on your reader’s attention. For this blog post I went through three drafts. 1) I jotted my thoughts down on a legal pad. 2) I typed it up on my iMac. 3) I left it for a moment, came back, made a few last edits, and I was done. The whole process took twenty minutes.

This simple advice will help you write better books as well as better blogs, articles, and school papers. Just send it through the word processor one more time.

FYI. If you’re a young person looking for a good book, try Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. My personal favorites of his, though more for adults, are his novel A Farewell to Arms and A Moveable Feast, his memoir of living in Paris in the 1920s and ’30s.

What do you do when you’re a writer, and you’re rejected?

To be a writer is to be rejected. Many article and book ideas of mine have been rejected. If you’re not being rejected, you’re not trying hard enough.

Irma S. Rombauer, author of Joy of Cooking, rejected by publishers.

The question is, How should writers react when they receive those inevitable rejections? Well, don’t give up. That’s the first and most important thing. Know that you are not alone, and that the very best who have ever practiced this craft have all been rejected, often when they were unknown and just starting out.

Back in the days when publishers and editors issued rejection notices on paper, William Saroyan would write “I reject your rejection!” across the face of the rejection letter and send it back to the person who rejected him. Continue reading

Writing With Children: Coping Strategies for Parents

It was a quiet Sunday morning, and in a relaxed and optimistic mood I sat down on the couch with a mug of hot black tea and some papers and a pencil, thinking I could grab a few minutes for some hard copy editing of a piece I had written.

Then my son Gabe started shooting nerf darts at my head.

This ever happen to you? My sons seem to have built-in radar that tells them when I’m trying to steal some time for myself and do something other than cater to their every whim and desire. This is their cue to pop out of nowhere and shoot nerf darts at me. If you are a writer and a parent as I am—actually, if you run any home-based business or telecommute—it is unavoidable that there will be times when you must work when the children are home with you.

How do you get your work done when the li’l darlings are running around fighting and screaming and raising a wild rumpus? Here are some strategies and approaches that worked for me when our children were young: Continue reading

Synopsis: “I lost, but learned a lot”

A synopsis is basically a plot summary of your novel. Agents, editors, and publishers typically require a one- to two-page synopsis of your book so they can quickly see what it’s about and whether or not it’s for them. Continue reading

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