Oh hey there! Looks like you're in TheWritePlace at the right time! We're a brand new group committed to providing a useful, efficient resource for the literature community here on dA. We're also invested in trying to strengthen community ties for everyone, because deviantART is our home.
If you think there's something more we could be doing to help you - let us know! We are always open to new ideas and feedback. After all, this group is for you!
As we strive to make this group the best it can be we have to ask for our members' cooperation in keeping the group useful, beautiful and safe.
When submitting to this group please
If the gallery you want to submit to is full, let us know ASAP!
Do not submit materials that are against DeviantARTs TOS.
We only accept Literature (including visual poetry / prose).
If your story has, or will have, more than one chapter please submit it to one of our 'Chapters' folders. The short stories folders are for singular works, Chapters are for extended works that are told through multiple submissions.
Feel free to feedback. If something doesn't work for you, let us know! We will take it into account and see what works best for other members using the same feature.
You cannot submit to our Featured folder. We use this to highlight the artists we have featured in our Today's Featured Writer articles.
If critiquing a piece of work make sure you remain encouraging.
How to improve your writing
In 2013 I wrote an article called How to get more views on your Literature. I wanted to give actual practical advice from people who know, writers established in the DA lit community.The article was (and still is) very popular and seems to have helped a lot of folks so I decided to tackle a different (but way more important question)... how can we make our writing the best it can be?
Because it's great to show work to your friends but self improvement, or working towards a goal (for a lot of us that's a writing career, a novel, publication, competitions etc) is a whole different thing. So I asked some of DA's finest to spill the beans and answer those commonly asked questions 'How did you get so good?' 'Will I ever be able to write like this?' and 'Hi, is this Dominos?' (wrong number).
In How to get more views... I promised a pony if you read the whole article. With this article you win something even better! (Don't say self improvement Kate that's really cheesy)... SELF IMPROVEMENT! Oh damnit.
Be mindful and look at everything as a mini-lesson and we're not talking about full-on sit-in-a-clasroom and learn something for 40+ minutes. For example if you stumble across a good story that has a very relatable character ask yourself 'what makes them so relatable?' You don't need to do hard-core research and decipher much, think of generalities or vague points to help steer you in a good direction is what you should aim for.
Of course, in-depth doesn't hurt either. It's about finding a balance between the two and what works best for you as a student.
Alright, moving on.
Identify your weakest points. For me, it's dialogue, what do you skip over or avoid writing? Here are some common things you could be struggling with.
Dialogue; keeping it authentic, flowing naturally and relevant to the plot.
Word count; writing longer pieces and sustaining the same level of quality throughout.
'Telling' instead of 'Showing'; taking shortcuts instead of creating sensory imagery to lead a reader to what you want them to think.
Cliches; language and phrases that transmit a lot of information but at the cost of being stale.
Keeping up with the Joneses; or remembering who all your different characters are, what their purposes are, what their narrative arcs are - oh god
Rhyme, Rhythm, Meters, Syllables; All the confusing math like calculations to maximise the effect of your words. What does it all mean!?
Remembering to drop words like 'was' and 'is' and replace them with more efficient and active alternatives.
Spelling, grammar, punctuation and presentation.
Finding or staying true to your artistic voice and style.
...Okay I'm going to stop listing now because it's getting depressing, but hopefully we will cover more things that you might need help with below.
Having the right mindset is... huge. (I might be rambling here, but I can't stress it enough!) With the right attitude, you will get anywhere you want to be -- not just as a writer. Remember, it is okay to get frustrated. It is okay to quit for a little while and come back to your work; sometimes, it is the right thing to do, to let off a little steam and any negative feelings before another attempt.
True progress doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes, it is so gradual that it is hard to see immediately.
It is okay to stay within your comfort zone, but you should not be afraid to step out of it. Let's give you guys a real example: me. I am most comfortable writing free verse poetry. But there are still many different forms of poetry that I have yet to explore and familiarize myself with, and some of these alien art forms can be intimidating, I get that. But I promise you: the more time you give yourself to work with new material, the more you'll improve, and the more you will enjoy it!
Be open-minded. No one is perfect; we all know that. You have got to be ready to accept -- to embrace -- your flaws. The first step towards improvement is acknowledging that you have something to improve.
Identifying what you need to improve is, of course, a great first step to improving. If you don't know what's wrong with your work but you feel like it could be better you have a couple of potential courses of action available to you.
Read stuff. On and off(!!) of DeviantART, read stuff! Read other writer's work, think about how they do what they do, work out how you can do it too. If a writer is really good at making you feel afraid before something scary happens, for example, look through the words and work out how they are doing it. Writing is a craft like any other and you can learn a lot just by paying more attention to how other people do their work.
Ask people. There are many critique opportunities on DeviantART. If you are a core member you can turn on Critiques when you post. Any member can submit their work to critique-specific groups (if you know any good ones, why not name them below and help your fellow writers hook up with them!). Hell, even this group has a Seeking Critiques folder so you can indicate to the other members that you want help. Other writers, particularly young writers in communities like ours, love to help each other out. So ask the community for help.
Tutorials, self-help books, books about writing etc. These books keep getting printed so someone must be reading them!
Experiment. Try new things. Don't be afraid to write pure crap. No one else needs to know. Start writing. Stop writing. Start something else. There's no reason not to be writing erotic horror fan fiction whilst you try and find new techniques for your sci fi novel. They might seem like totally different things but writing is writing and all of it can teach you something.
What NOT to do:
Compare your work unfavourably to someone else's. That might seem like a really quick way to work out where you are 'lacking' but we're always impressed by things we can't do, so you'll just notice all the things you like and not notice what they might be weak at. Give yourself a break. Your writing will evolve and grow every day you do it for the rest of your life. You are a unique person completely different to every other person ever alive, so so is your writing. Use other people's work as something to learn from but not as a weapon to punish yourself with.
Listen to the people who think your work is flawless, but most importantly, listen to the people who think it's flawed. Learn to incorporate others' ideas with your own. When you are lucky enough to receive it, listen carefully to feedback given by professionals. Some of the best writing tips I've ever received were from very kind rejection letters by agents and lit magazines. They can explain exactly what you did wrong and exactly how you can fix it better than your mother ever could (unless she's a professional agent or editor, but most of us aren't that lucky). Learn from every crappy piece you have ever written or will ever write.
Once you've worked out what you perceive to be your weaknesses, experiment. If you are lucky enough to have a group of friends or watchers who know your body of work quite well then pay attention to their comments. There have been times when I've thought 'oh, my work is a bit stagnant lately I need to stop writing about that one thing' and then I've tried something else and I've had responses that show they perceived the change as forced and not for the better. Just because you think you're bad at something doesn't make it true remember. So if your readers miss something you used to do, go back to it! Positive feedback is just as important as negative feedback because it tells us what to keep. It's so so important to notice what you're good at and what helps make your work authentic and truthfully yours.
I think putting too much thought into my writing is a fine way of diminishing the meaning behind it.This reigns true for characters and ideas alike- you cannot control them, but you should let them control you and your writing. You shouldn't try and mimic anybody or force yourself to write anything that doesn't feel natural- you should pour your heart into it and not be afraid of what you have to say.
In my last article I did a brief section about whether or not your work is 'good'. It's by NO means a comprehensive list because all art is subjective. What you might think is great, might be completely over my head - but it's worth considering the readers perspective. If you didn't know you or any of your other work, what would you get from this single piece of writing.
Is your idea unique? It might be a broad subject (like love) with a unique set of imagery. It might be something abstract and new. What makes your work worth reading?
Is your work well crafted? Did you use techniques to strengthen the communication of your idea?
Did you proof read it? Whilst spelling mistakes, grammar and punctuation issues don't make your piece 'bad' it can be an obstruction between you and your audience, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to enjoy your work so that the most people possible can, right? So take a minute to check for obvious mistakes. I am really poor at this and have to focus really hard on it and still make tonnes of mistakes, but that one minute proof read catches more than you think and can clean up your first impression on your reader.
WHY? If you have an unusual layout with indentations or no capital letters; why? Its fine to do both of those things (I do!) but only if you do it on purpose. If you choose to do it because it's the right thing to do to reflect the meaning of your work. Don't drop capital letters out of laziness or because it's currently trendy. You don't need to be trendy, you need to be yourself.
Lastly, would you read it, enjoy it, recommend it to a friend? You always have your Scrapbook gallery if not. You can edit it in the future or just keep it there as a record of something you've written without everyone having to see it. You know that expression "You're only as good as your last game"? If someone came into your gallery and clicked this piece at random and read it and decided whether or not to invest any more time exploring your gallery based on this piece, would they? If this piece doesn't exemplify your capabilities as a writer, then put it away for now.
Find the right balance of dream and reality. Abstract images/dream objects can prove useful for tugging at the reader's subconscious thoughts/memories or those just below the surface. They can influence a poem's mood and tone at least as effectively as any linear statement. Not to mention that they add an essential ethereal texture of both truth and mystery at the same time.
In that same vein, rather than just stating the mood of a poem, let the imagery steer readers toward it. The reaction you evoke is much stronger when you let the reader's mind work it over and come to certain conclusions (somewhat) on their own. They may come to different conclusions than you had intended, but that's the price of freedom, folks.
Try to avoid using unsupported and sweeping descriptive terms like- happy, sad, depressing. When used alone, they bypass critical interactions between the poem and the reader. Your work misses its chance to gain the emotional investment needed to deepen the reader's reaction.
Lean heavily on metaphor. Using "like" and "as if" too much can quickly undermine the credibility of your poetic voice. Similes leave room for doubt and questions. You need to sound like you, as the author, have already made the same transcendental leap into truth that your poetry asks its readers to make.
When you think you’re done, read your work aloud, several times, as it’s laid out on the page. This is harder than it sounds, because you’re reading something that you’ve written and your mind already knows where it’s going. I find that my mind often manipulates the movement and cadence in order to break the lines in such a way that it all fits neatly into more eye-appealing strophs/stanzas. The structure may look prettier, but it can easily break the natural flow of the words. This is something that I’ve just recently started focusing on- letting lines that need to be longer, just be longer.
Common advice to improve your writing is just to write! There is some truth to that. My lecturer told me in my first lecture "If you write 300 words a day, its 2100 words in a week. That's 109200 words in a year. If you write that volume of words, the odds of liking some of them are pretty high" and he was right. Compared to writing nothing, its 109200 times more likely that some of those words could be something special.. but it took it being broken down like that in front of me to make me think - oh.
When I first started, I started with rhyming poetry-- structured poems. Then as I "matured" as a writer, I fell into free verse and every once in a blue moon, I'll toy with a structured piece now. But when I first got started, my main focus was rhyming things and keeping things in a very dogged place. It was good for awhile but then my tings started to become a little more stagnant. So I started playing with "gllitchy" features and tried to incorporate that into my writing. Then eventual free verse came.
So, I think with that being said, I believe the best way to improve as a writer is to write as often as you can and always, always, always try different things. You can have a focus and a thing you're really good with (i.e. imagery, metaphor, line breaks, word choice, rhyming, alliteration, wordplay, etc.), but I do believe the high point of a writer is a writer that writes and that writes with a purpose. Be it to improve, tell a story, or become more versatile.
I've always heard to write a lot... but it's never really suited me. I write whenever it comes to me, but having my lecturer break it down into numbers made me realise that some of it is just simple maths. The more I write, the more writing I have, and therefore the more writing that might be any good. Not to mention the self-perpetuating growth that comes from just practicing your craft.
I'm a collector - I wait for things to come to me. I never, ever force myself to write anything. A reader can tell when something has been forced, when it didn't come from somewhere authentic. A poem or a story is ready in its own time and I can only speed up the process so much.
That's not to say I don't work on my writing - that's a given. But there's a difference between that and throttling your own sense of creativity. Some writers can make themselves write constantly with no difficultly, but I simply don't work that way. Don't beat yourself up if it's not your method either.
These guys both make great points but I think when other writers tell you to just bloody well write something it comes from a good place. Lots of people paralyse themselves with fear. They don't write anything because they aren't sure it'll be perfect; spoiler alert - It doesn't have to be! Put pen to paper because no one needs to see what comes out and it could lead to something incredible. I have a huge stack of snippets of poems and sometimes I go through them months after I wrote them down and then it'll spark a full poem. You never know what can evolve from just trying to write stuff down.
Another common reason to tell people to get writing is when people say they don't have time.... If you're reading this article and you've ever said those words I challenge you to question yourself on it (I have to challenge myself on this daily so no judgement).
If you want writing to be your job (as a lot of us do), then it has to be your job. You have to work at it. You have to practice, research, try. You have to sacrifice half an hour of Netflix or sleep or time on the phone with your bestie - because its your job.
It's perfectly okay to write because you love it! I highly recommend that, but if your intention is to take your writing seriously, then take it seriously. It's a job like any other and it requires commitment and time put in, you don't get to spend half an hour doing something you love and then cash a cheque. Writing is real, its a real job. It's a hard job. If you want to write for a living because you are passionate about it, then do it. If you wanna write for a living because you're already writing so you might as well get paid for it plus its kind of fun and it would be cool not to be tied down to a job - stop! It's just not that simple.
If you want to do it, do it. Find the time, make the time. That said, if you (like SilverInkblot and myself) tend to wait for inspiration to come to you, that's okay too, but try actively engaging in inspiration. Art galleries, museums, people-watching on the street, books, poetry, politics, philosophy - there is a lot going on in the world you can absorb that will make you want to write and you can choose to seek it out if you wish to. (If you don't, that's okay too. I'm writing this article instead of editing a short story that is due in 48 hours and I'm in my pyjamas... so....)
I have met so many writers, who really have such skill and ability to write, but often while they thank me for featuring their work or faving it , they say that they were not even going to share this on DA, or they were hesitating to write it in the first place.
To improve yourself as a writer, just start by writing any idea that comes to your mind, develop it, work on it, give it your best and then share it with everybody else.
Okay... brace yourselves guys... it's that thing we all fear. The word we all shiver at... or maybe thats just me...
It's time to talk about Editing. I am very bad at editing in the traditional sense (of revisions and many drafts) but having gone into a Creative Writing degree specifically to learn about editing I found that I utilise a lot of editing techniques as I write. So whilst I do completely agree that editing is important for a lot of people, and that learning more about editing can help your writing (if you know what mistakes you're gonna edit out like Showing not Telling, you become more aware of them as you write them!) I will also say that every writer is different on this topic. Some published bestsellers are on the record saying they hate editing, and some love it, and some do it compulsively and some not at all. Learn about it, and make the decision for yourself, but do learn about it!
The second thing that has helped me improve my writing is learning to be strategic and purposeful with everything I do. I used to think that storytelling was flying by the seat of your pants, and just writing whatever idea seemed clever at the time (and would get huffy and puffy whenever someone dared mention “rules” or “methods” to me). This resulted in a jumbled and confused mess that could only be fixed by my having to cut countless chapters, characters, and events. Everything a writer puts in their story should have a purpose, and one of the greatest milestones for a writer is deliberately enacting this level of strategy and planning. I now study the elements of story, I plan my steps, schedule and pace myself, and find that I improve every day for it.
Taking critique (or as I call it as I weep in my tower 'criticism') can be hard. Let's be honest. My poetry lecturer once said when she sends her poem to her friends for a critique, even after 30 years of being a published poet, part of her heart hopes they'll reply "this is perfect in every way, change nothing!" but that never happens.
The thing I like to remind people of is that writing (usually I'm talking about poetry specifically here) is a form of communication. You're trying to communicate an experience to someone else (whether real or imagined, a thought, an event, a sensation, some kind of conscious experience you have had). No other person is ever going to have lived your life in your body exactly the way you have, so no one can possibly read your poem and understand every letter in the precise way you intended it to be read, because they have a different set of mental references, a different framework to their world, different feelings and thoughts to you.
What your writing is doing is trying to get what the reader reads as close to what you want them to as possible.
For me that means meaning is always king, and for a long time I completely ignored techniques. I would say what I wanted to say and that was good enough. But I came to realise that the point of techniques isn't to restrict what you want to say, its to strengthen it.
Things like rhythm in a poem can be used to replicate a heartbeat for example, in a poem about love. This technique by itself means nothing but in the context of the meaning of your poem you can use it to add another layer of complexity that will subconsciously give more clues to your readers.
John Betjeman used a bunch of sibilance in his poems about Cornwall to add the shhh sound of the ocean. Raymond Carver left his main characters without names and often no dialogue to represent nameless anxieties in them. Sylvia Plath used Nazi imagery to talk about her father because at the time she was writing after the Nuremberg trials a Nazi doctor was the darkest imagery in the American psyche and it was therefore the way to show an association with all the worst traits in humanity for her readers. These are all utilisations of techniques in order to strengthen what you are meaning to say.
It's alright to focus on the meaning, but if you learn about techniques you will have the power to use them if you choose to, and they can be pretty damn powerful in helping your reader get a pinpoint precise version of what you wanted them to see.
Not caring- another key piece to become a better writer. In order to uniquely express yourself, to establish your own voice, you must not be afraid of judgment. There will always be those who don’t believe in what you’re saying or doing- and it is unimportant. I’m not saying to not take constructive criticism, but at the end of the day, just stick to what you believe in. Love what you do, and you will improve. You will become a better writer, you will grow as a writer, if you are relentlessly yourself in doing so. Be fearless.
Always be humble. There will be those ahead of where you want to be, and those below where you want to be- both can help you on your journey of becoming the best you can. With being humble, always be kind. People are more willing to help someone who treats them how they want to be treated, as trite as it sounds. If you want someone to help you grow, you must first help them- which can be most simply done by treating them nicely. In this case, if the nice people are finishing last, as the old mantra goes, I believe the mean people will never finish.
To sum up simply- write, be fearless, be humble, and be kind. Master these, and nothing can stop you from being the best writer you can be. Stay wonderful, and keep writing!
At the end of the day, this article mainly reflects my own personal thoughts and it isn't going to work for everyone but I wanted to give more depth to the advice we all hear about improving our work. Hearing it from people who actively engage in improving their work that you may have seen grow by watching them, might encourage you guys to listen and consider.. but at the end of the day you are the only person who knows what works for you. So if something works for you that is completely unique, do that, just be aware that there are other ways to improve if you need them.
Readers usually say that I am writing in pictures.
I would like to thank HugQueen, GuinevereToGwen, unfaithfulstars, fiercestrawberry, neurotype, chromeantennae, SilverInkblot, Mrs-Freestar-Bul, LadyLincoln, BlackBowfin, Malintra-Shadowmoon, JosephBlakeParker, doughboycafe, Tangled-Tales and TheMaidenInBlack for taking the time to share their insight about their work with us. Thank you guys!
I hope this article has given you a lot to think about. I think in the main there are some big questions for each reader to consider, either privately or in the comments. At the bottom of this article I've listed some questions for you to think about.
Being the best writer you can be, to me, is always trying your best, always pushing for more, always knowing that you're not your best until you're doing everything you can to be so. You read lots, edit your work, rely on other people's advice and critique, push your limits outside your comfort zone, give critique, research properly when needed, study what little there is to study before diving head on into something totally new.
And yes, it takes time to see improvement, years even, but the truth is that when you're doing your best it doesn't matter if you ARE the best. You're giving it your all, so you already are. Results will follow.
Questions for the readers:
Why do you write and why do you want to improve your writing?
What makes you think you're writing needs to be improved (this might help you identify what your weaknesses are!)
Can you identify where your craft is weakest and where it is strongest (both are equally important to think about!)
Of the things you'd like to improve, pick one you are interested in exploring and try and find resources to help you. For example groups on deviantART like Writing-Tutorials, theWrittenRevolution or CRLiterature or WritersWorkshop. Websites, blogs, books or other writers on DA. Look around you, what can you use to help improve in this field?
Are you committed to this? If you are, remind yourself of why this is important to you and decide if you want to actively engage in improving in this area. If not, that's okay too! But think about why not.
Do you believe that doing something different could help you as a writer? If so, what's in the way of you doing it?
Do you edit (not just spelling, grammar and punctuation), if so why? If not, why? Do you have evidence that editing / not editing is the best thing for your work?
Who around you can you rely on for honest feedback if you need it? Look for groups, deviants, teachers, professionals, friends or family, anyone you think would be willing to help you out!
How about you write 50 words right now? It could take mere minutes. Even if you just write 'Oh god kate do shut up, see I wrote something, you happy now?' give it a go? You never know what might be lurking under your conscious annoyance at me begging to be written about
Did you find this article helpful?
Who critiques your work? Why not take a minute now to thank them for their time, or let other deviants know about great groups that are critique positive!
Do you have any other ways you work to make your writing the best it can be? Share in the comments wouldya!?
PoetryOD, Mrs-Freestar-Bul, Jade-Pandora, ShackledMuse, AyeAye12, InklingsOfOblivion, maxnort, MusicInducedDaydream, ssensory, skipwr3ck, Haegun, PennedinWhite, DonShugar, vigour-mortis, days-be-strange, exarobibliologist, InklingsOfOblivion, 24-Stars-of-Nirvana, katt2015, kiwi-damnation, moonkata84 and unfaithfulstars
Want to join us? Click here to see open positions and think about getting involved!
Alessiah, AyeAye12, PoetryOD, DonShugar, Energuella, Farand, IntraSect, martinemes, moonkata84, mutt-face, nihilist-0, reedymanedkelpie, vigour-mortis, Kithanna, nightshade-keyblade, Melalina and spoems