Recently, I’ve been devouring a whole book’s worth of amazing tips on the art and craft of writing. (These tips are mainly for fiction writers, but non-fiction writers can benefit from them as well.) As a result, I’m learning more quality information about how to write better than I ever thought I could in one place. Best of all, these tips—96 in total—are actually FREE. I can hardly believe it because they’re worth their weight in gold. And if you’ll apply these tips on how to write better in your own writing, I’m confident you’ll succeed.
A Book on Writing Fiction…Compiled from Free Tips
Since “officially” beginning my writing journey back in October 2014, I’ve been soaking up every writing resource I’ve come across like a sponge. As such, I’ve compiled many resources on writing and how to write better, and I’ve got tons more to contribute to my Writing Resources page, but possibly none so valuable as what I’m about to share with you now.
I first ran across a book that discusses how to write better fiction when my wife and I were in a Books-A-Million bookstore while on vacation a few months back. It was entitled The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction (a Writer’s Digest book) by writer, editor, and publisher Jeff Gerke. Normally, before purchasing a new book, I snap a picture of it with my phone so I can remember to check the reviews of it on Amazon. I also visit my local library and browse the shelves to see if the is book available for checkout either as a physical copy or as an ebook/audiobook.
I couldn’t decide on the spot whether this book was worth the purchase or not, so I went through the above-mentioned routine. The amazing thing about this book, though, is that when I opened it up to quickly scan the pages (like I also do with every book that catches my eye), I made a most wonderful discovery. Gerke basically revealed early on in the book that it was mostly made up of fiction tips from columns he’d written over the years, compiled in book format—the very book I held in my hands.
In short, I wouldn’t have to check out any reviews or even go to the library; instead, I could read most of the book for myself online via the columns he mentioned!
Where the Map Ends…and the Fiction Tips Begin
In just a few short sentences, Gerke disclosed the website where these tips on how to write better fiction were available—absolutely FREE! The site, www.wherethemapends.com, gets its name from Gerke’s experience as a writer, editor, and publisher in the field of Christian Speculative Fiction (sort of Sci-Fi & Fantasy for Christian fiction).
The “map” is the territory of well known fiction genres (literary, mystery, horror, suspense, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, etc.). Beyond “where the map ends” (aka “the edge”) is the realm of Christian Fiction, especially Christian Speculative Fiction, which is not as widely known.
The great thing about the tips that Gerke shares on how to write better is that they’re universal, even if your realm of fiction isn’t exactly along the Christian Speculative Fiction boundaries.
How to Write Better: 96 Fiction & Novel Writing Tips
These fiction tips can easily be found on the Where the Map Ends home page, under the simple title Fiction Writing Tips. In this opus of information—useful to any writer of fiction who wants to learn how to write better whether they be of the short story, novel, novella, etc.—Gerke gives us a sneak peek into his extensive knowledge of the writing, editing, and publishing world.
Many of the Fiction Writing Tips covered include:
- Proper Manuscript Formatting
- Master Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
- The Invisible Novelist
- The Dumb Puppet Trick
- Show vs. Tell
- Should You Write What You Want or What the Market Wants?
- Beats (They’re not what you might think if you’ve heard the term before from such works as Write. Publish. Repeat.)
- The Secrets of Good Dialogue (in four parts)
- Create Interesting Characters (Who Don’t All Sound Like You)
And that’s just within the first 50 tips! There are 96 tips in all, and they’re not just short snippets either. Although some tips are shorter than others, each one is packed with lots of great information—sometimes enough to be considered separate blog posts.
These Fiction Writing Tips are laid out in sections of 10 at a time (i.e. tips 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, etc.) for easy navigation. And they’re all contained in “Table of Contents” form on a single page so you don’t have to waste time searching for them later.
Even more Fiction Writing Tips
One of his own invaluable resources, which Gerke mentions several times within the tips, is the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Dave King and Renni Browne. I have since purchased this book for myself and have found it to be indispensable to my own writing. I only wish I’d known about it years ago before taking on such a massive project as a novel. But you have to start somewhere.
In Fiction Tip #10, “Master Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” (mentioned in the above bulleted list), Gerke has many positive things to say about the book and suggests that it’s one of the best books he’s found on how to write better and on the craft of writing. Here’s his take on it:
“I don’t know of any other craft or skill-set that can be virtually mastered by adherence to one slim nonfiction book. And yet that’s what you can achieve if you internalize the teachings in Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.
“In my own writing, this was the book that single-handedly took me from aspiring wannabe to publishable novelist…I tell folks that there’s only one book they really need to learn their craft.”
Should you decide to pick up a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers as well, I highly recommend it. In his Fiction Writing Tips, Gerke has his own opinions on some of the subjects covered in Self-Editing, but he considers the book important enough to refer back to time and again, even after he’s had his say.
Making Time for Important Priorities
Personally, I’m working on numbers 31-40 of Gerke’s Fiction Writing Tips, in between trying to earn a certificate in an online writing course, writing consistent blog posts for EricBeaty.com, and writing and editing my own fiction projects. It’s a challenge, to say the least, to keep track of all the projects I’m currently working on—not to mention project ideas that keep coming to me—however, I find myself excited to have so many avenues for creativity and blessed that I’m constantly inspired to create new, worthwhile writing projects.
The main thing is that I’m making time to achieve my goals for this year, and if I want to learn how to write better, that requires making writing a priority. If it’s important to me, there needs to be a spot on my planner so I can devote the time necessary to complete the task. And since writing is important to me—especially fiction writing—I’ve got to hold myself accountable by sticking to these appointments with myself and my work.
The main thing is that I’m making time to achieve my goals for this year, and if I want to learn how to write better, that requires making writing a priority.
One of the ways I’m doing this is by studying Gerke’s Fiction Writing Tips when I have some time available after doing the writing itself. Instead of surfing the web, hanging out on social media, or watching TV, I’m trying to maintain the discipline of learning more about my craft.
Believe me, with the help of my own Writing Resources, Jeff Gerke’s Fiction Writing Tips, and now Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, I’ve learned a ton of useful information that I’m confident will help me become a better writer. And if you’ll apply Gerke’s tips on how to write better in your own writing, I’m confident you’ll become a better writer as well.
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