How to Become a Creative Writer | Avery Lavoie | Skillshare

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How to Become a Creative Writer

teacher avatar Avery Lavoie, Novelist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (3h 10m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Acknowledge there is always room to grow & do your homeworks

    • 3. Types of creative writing

    • 4. Online prior to writing & get outside feedback

    • 5. Creative nonfiction

    • 6. Essential Elements of Creative Writing

    • 7. Determine your weak spots & be open to the feedbacks

    • 8. Give yourself time and space for creative writing

    • 9. Final tips

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About This Class

Whether or not you are a novice writer, you probably want to know how to get better at it. I will go over 11 writing principles in this lesson to help you become a better writer.

Have you ever started a novel only to become stuck halfway through the writing process? Or if you have a plot idea for a book but don't know how to start? Have you finished a first draft but believe it lacks some of the polish of a well-written novel?

Who need to start this class:

If Your Manuscript Needs Polish, New Writers
If Your Script Isn't Complete
Authors Interested in Publishing

Meet Your Teacher

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Avery Lavoie



Hello, I'm Avery. I provide writing and book publishing resources for genre literature, with a concentration on romance, fantasy, and science fiction books. My videos cover novel writing and editing, traditional publishing versus self-publishing, author interviews, literary agent first page critiques, and much more.

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1. Introduction: Whether or not you're a newbie writer, you're probably curious how you can improve your writing. This video, we discussed 11 tips for how to improve your writing. Coming up. Hey, you both nerves. I made Latour. I'm a writer of science fiction and fantasy and romance, and my debut novel is coming out in fall of 2020. I also formerly worked at a literary agency on this episode of iron readily, we're going to be talking about 11 tips for how to improve your writing. Writing a novel is really difficult. Often it takes many writers years to complete their first novel and then many more years after that too, write a good novel. So that means that your first novels usually aren't very good. Especially this early drafts are not the best that we will ever write in our writing careers. And that's because as new untested authors, we don't know how to write a good book yet. I've heard that writers worry about four books prior to getting a literary agent, whether or not that's true, most race have to write several books before they really get the hang of things. If you're watching this video, you're probably wondering how you can shorten your learning curve and write better books more quickly. Let's talk about the 11 ways that you can improve your writing skills today. 2. Acknowledge there is always room to grow & do your homeworks: Number one acknowledged that you don't know everything and that you're writing isn't perfect. One surefire sign of a newbie writer is to think that your writing is perfect. Nothing but anyone can say against your story if applicable, because if they do have a critique, that just means they all get your story and not That's your story needs improving. Certainly not that I was their friends. Once upon a time, newbie writer Meg thought that her first draft, first book ever was going to be a New York Times bestselling book. It was not first drafts are not final drafts according to Terry project, the first draft is just you telling yourself the story. Therefore, be open-minded to the fact that while you might have a great concept here are really cool characters. You might have to polish that book many, many times and go through many, many drafts in order to prepare it for the eyes of the reader number to research how to write a good book. As newbie writers, we cannot hope to figure out how to write books on our own, or at least most of us can't. Therefore, you will want to do some research on your own about how to write a good book. For example, some topics you might want to research and learn more about include plot structure, character arcs, how to give a character unique voice, pacing, as you might be inferring from this list, reading a good book is about more than grammar. Here are a few resources that you could check out. Non-fiction books about how to write a novel, which could be checked out from the library. So you do not immediately have to purchase anything. Free articles and blogs, online, YouTube videos. I writerly, for example, is part of a niche on YouTube called author tube, where writers and creators make videos about how to write books. You can check out online courses. There's always the option of a formal education at a college or university. A separate dropdown item to this one, like online courses taught by professors but aren't necessarily part of a degree program of sorts. Reading books by grace in your genre is probably one of the best ways that you can learn how to write, say the books that you love, and analyze. What do those authors do that makes such a great story? And why are you drawn to those particular stories? And of course, there's many more options. These are just a few of the ways that you can research how to write a good book. Now, keep in mind there are many free resources to learn more about how to write a good book. I had referenced a few in this list, such as free articles and blogs, YouTube videos. Right now you're watching I write really it's free. There's a lot of stuff that maybe if you have a local library, you can get books from a local library. So don't be pulling out your wallet right away. I talked about this a little bit in my previous video. Who should give writing advice? But if you're gonna be paying for anything, an online course or a book or whatever it is. Make sure that the person teaching that subject is an expert. Ideally, they should be doing the things that you yourself aspire to do. I will leave a link in the description below to my video. Who should give writing advice if you want to learn a little bit more about my thoughts on how to pick good paid programs. 4. Online prior to writing & get outside feedback: Number Three, consider outlining your book before you write it. If you haven't yet heard of plotters and Panzers or gardeners and architects allow me to enlighten you. A plotter, also called an architect, is a person who plans out their story prior to writing it. A Panther, which is someone who flies by the seat of their pants and also called a gardener, is someone who doesn't plan the story before they write it. A lot of times these are our discovery writers. They're going to write things and discover things about the story along the way. They don't outline or do lots of preparation in advance. The reason I also call it gardeners and architects is because there's a famous quote by the author Georgia or Martin, who wrote The Song of Ice and Fire series of better known as Game of Thrones, that talks about the plotter versus pants or discussion, but he calls them gardeners versus architects. I had heard that first before appearing, plotters and Panthers. But in other tooth, that's what most people refer to it as. So just figured out through both terms out there in case you guys have also heard that quote as well. Now, there is no right or wrong way to go about writing. However, a panzer has a lot more work to do in the editing phase because meno plan out the work in advance. Therefore, consider checking things out like beat sheets or researching the plot and structure of a novel. Before you write your novel, you don't have to write your novel out in advance if you're just like. And that's totally cool. But consider checking out some of these things prior to writing. Just so you have a general idea of what plot beats should be in what sections, because all stories have structure. It's just a matter of where those things happen in the book, maybe happens at 15% in this book and this other one. Big plot B happens at 10%. You still have to have those beats, but they don't have to be in the exact same places, Save the Cat writes a novel, for example, has a lot of beat sheets and that is a popular resource here on offer to you, but definitely consider checking that out. I think I should add here that if you're writing your very first novel, you probably have no idea if you're a plotter or panzer, or a gardener or an architect, you've never written a book before, so you don't know what your process is. So I recommend experimenting with both avenues to see which works best for you. For me, I was painting my first couple of drafts and then after writing my first couple of books is like licensing. And then I flipped the exact opposite side. So now I plot my books out in advance and I don't just plot the general events. I plot chapter by chapter outlines. So wherever you fall on the spectrum, if you're a new writer, experiment to see what works best for you. Number four, or work with critique partners and beta readers. Critique partners and beta readers both provide feedback on unpublished manuscripts, but they are a little bit different. Critique partners are writers who provide feedback on your work, usually by requests. So maybe you swap chapters or full manuscripts. Beta readers are usually not writers and they read your manuscript and provide a general feedback. It's not gonna be quite as in depth as feedback from a writer, but I'm going to stop reading here. And that is, so you are getting literally beta readers, people to read your novel as readers and tell you what is or isn't working. I think there are a lot of people in the writing community that also use writers as beta readers. I know I certainly do for some of the groups that I get together. So generally speaking, beta readers do not have to be writers. Critique partners are writers and usually you're swapping manuscripts, as you probably know, without outside feedback on our stories, we cannot improve our writing. This is due to writers, our own blindness to the flaws in our story because we are so close to it. If we see the story in our heads, we can see it so perfectly that we don't, we're blind to those faults when we put idea in our heads, idea on a paper, we don't see where things are missing the Rida, we don't describe a character enough or show how they're feeling, or maybe we're telling more than showing. But this idea is like this perfection in our head and it's so wonderful and beautiful. And sometimes there's an error in translation of that idea in our head to ID on the page. And it is the job ID, a good critique partner and a good beta reader to help us find where there's errors in translation to say, during this time, this religion work, what if you do this? And so we really just need outside feedback on our work as writers in order to help us make the best story possible. 7. Determine your weak spots & be open to the feedbacks: Number five, be open to critique or feedback on your work. It's not just about getting feedback from critique partners and beta readers. If you are not open to making changes to your story than this exercise of getting feedback is pointless. Do your best to look at your story objectively and listen to what the critique partners and beta readers are saying. Number six, look closely at your weakest points. Did your critique partners and beta readers have a consensus about what parts of the story really needed some work that is most likely your weak spot as a writer. For me, I've always struggled with info dumps. And most recently on my adult space opera that's coming out in fall of 2021. Thing I've been working really hard on is not having too much internalization from my protagonist and spending too much time on her head versus actually out in scenes doing things. Simply knowing those things is really helpful so that when you are self editing, you can look for those things as you're editing, maybe even before you get your manuscript to critique partners and beta readers, or maybe afterwards, It's really important to be able to identify where you just struggle as a writer and we all have something that we struggle with. So listen to what the consensus is for feedback. If a lot of your critique partners and beta readers are saying this thing needs to be improved. You probably really want to focus on that. But there's always an outliner that one person that is like this big. I really didn't like this inside while everyone else is like. So there's always gonna be one outlier. But I would say be attentive to what everybody is saying and look for common themes or threads. If there's a common theme, more than likely you are going to want to address it. Number seven, edit the book on your own many times. As I mentioned earlier, the first draft is not the final draft. Most authors edit the book dozens of times before you see the final copy that's on the bookshelves? When I say dozens of times, they sometimes that they ended it on their own by themselves and then sometimes with an editor or beta readers or whatever. Personally, I edit my own manuscripts two to five times on my own, front-to-back beginning to end of the manuscript before I will ship it off to my first round of critique partners or alpha readers. After that, I worked with critique partners and beta readers, Send them my manuscript and work through many, many drafts and then self-edit in-between. Consider working with more critique partners and beta readers. And it could be the same person or different people after you've maybe worked with them once and then you've implemented your own feedback. Consider working with them again. Ideally, you want to work with critique partners and or beta readers through several drafts of your book. The exact number of times you work with critique partners and beta readers is going to be up to you and up to them and everyone's availabilities. But I recommend at least two, at the very least to, but I think maybe even three to four times is a good number before maybe you send it off to a literary agent or to an editor if you're self-publishing. 9. Final tips: Number eight, brush up on grammar. Wow, good grammar doesn't make a good story. Bad grammar can pull you out of one. Let me say that again. Well, good grammar doesn't make good story. Bad grammar can pull you out of one eye. Such you will want to be able to identify proper punctuation, sentence structure and so on. I readily, we are affiliates with Grammarly. I personally use them and I don't know if I've ever actually say this to you guys on this channel, but I'm not the best speller. I swear all the words that sound the same. I mixed them up all the time like course CoA, RSC, and then of course, C-O-L-O-U-R SE, I'm mixing things up all the time and so things like grandma, start really using the wrong thing. Number nine, read books by grades within your genre. I mentioned this a little bit earlier in this video, but dissect the books that you love. Try to determine what you enjoy and these books, as well as what the author excels at. In addition, maybe think about the ways that you can emulate some of the things or incorporate certain aspects of what they do into your own writing without plagiarizing or feeling like you're regurgitating their style of writing. You don't want to be like mimicking them to me, that's like icky, but it's good to be like, Oh my gosh, this is how this person portrays a unique voice for a character. We think about how I can do that in my own writing. Number ten, right? Often to sharpen your skills, according to Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10 thousand hours, which is approximately ten years of doing something to become an expert. While you don't need to write books for ten years before you're deemed ready to put your books into the world, you do need to be putting time into honing your skill and craft as a writer. Number 11, write the next book, going along with our previous point, the best way to be a better author is to write many books. That is because the more books you right, the better you get at it. From my experience, writing a book isn't something that you can teach. Sure, you can learn the principles for how to write a good book from other authors or teachers or industry experts. But you must learn how you as an author, operate through the process of writing your own books. How you write is going to be different from how somebody else writes. Therefore, the only way to glean that knowledge of how you work as an author is to actually write a book. I feel like there's a lot of people that I speak to you in the comments that are like, Hey, I've been working on this book for ten years. And while there's absolutely authors at work on books for many, many years, just be careful that you're not hanging on that first book for too long. Because I think there's a lot of things that can be learned by even temporarily shelving a book. So putting it to the side, that deleting it, just putting it to the side and working on a new project. You learned so much by working on a new project. And then you maybe learned about story structure or character arcs and plot arcs and all these different things that you can't necessarily learn from reading the same book over and over and over. So just a word of caution. I'm not saying to stop reading your book because you've been running it for too long. You do you, however, best way to become a better author is to write more books. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of writerly all about how to improve your writing. That's it for today. As always, keep writing.