How to Become a Better Writer

Because I knew everything when I was 13. Possibly 12 or 14. Carbon dating is not currently in my skill set, so we’re going by the tiny circles dotting the i’s (it’s faint, but maybe you can see it a tiny bit? Yeah, barely, sorry, couldn’t find a “darken” feature on my scanner).

But first. When people say “from the archives” in BlogLand, I think they usually mean a past blog post. Not so in this case. “The archives” are an old filing cabinet, a gift from my BFF B-Dawg. Covered in stickers (the file cabinet, not the friend):

I can't wait to tear apart the vampire and werewolf stories I found! This file cabinet is almost better than the New Kids On the Block pillowcase I found in my old doll closet. The wonders of exploring our garage/time capsule.

Here’s the list!

1. Strong characters

2. Learn lots on different subjects

3. Make stronger plots

4. Make “touching” stories, but keep humor

5. Don’t give yourself limits, be creative

6. It’s not bad to draw in the margins, it helps you think

7. Plot story before writing. [Okay, I’ve been refraining from commenting on my juvenile “advice,” but I have to interject here. I LOVE plotting. I could plot all day. But after finishing one set of revisions on The Black City, I’ve been writing fiction without plotting, and it’s great fun. Scary, but fun. And most people will advise you to do the opposite, to just write & let the characters lead you wherever their little hearts desire, but I just wanna say: do what works best for YOU.]

8. Work on self-discipline, you need lots [You may also want to explore punctuation options because your ignorance of the semi-colon is driving me crazy.]

9. Increase vocabulary

10. Clean up room, cleaner environments give you more ideas [See, this has been a problem for me since childhood.]

11. If you run out of ideas, stop because if you feel bored, readers will feel bored [Again, IGNORE this advice. If you run out of ideas, keep going. Something will come, maybe something you’re not expecting. Or maybe total crap. But see #8 above.]

12. Study and/or invent the background that you want your story to have [Do I mean setting here? We’d have to send a message in a time-travel capsule to ask my younger self.]

13. Make lists of things that you want in your story [I’ve always been a fan of lists.]

14. Keep a diary and it increases your vocabulary and sense of feelings

15. Make stupid lists like this when you’re bored


  1. Dana · April 30, 2011

    “And most people will advise you to do the opposite, to just write & let the characters lead you wherever their little hearts desire…”

    And that’s why LKH’s books have become complete and utter garbage because her characters have taken over and Anita just wants to be the bun in a big sausage fest.

    I laughed at this list (in a good way, not a mocking way). I see a very serious baby-Beth writing all this down. Maybe with mussed up hair and a tongue sticking out in thoughtful concentration.

    • Beth Hull · April 30, 2011

      Haha, because that’s what ANITA wants, not the author.

      And yes, I did take myself very seriously when it came to writing. Hadn’t learned to make fun of myself yet. Don’t think I stuck out my tongue while I concentrated, but I didn’t look in the mirror either. Unless I was perfecting my “writerly” pose.

      • Dana · May 1, 2011

        Well, yes, are you daring to insinuate Anita is not a sentient being? That’s why LKH buys Christmas gifts for all her characters.

  2. sanped93 · September 26, 2012

    Hi. I like the list that you posted, and wonderd if i could “steal” it. 🙂
    Thank you and great blog!

    • Beth Hull · September 26, 2012

      If you give me credit with a link to this post, sure thing! Just remember, I wrote these when I was a kid, so they’re not exactly what I’d advise now. Cheers!

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