Improve Your Writing with Help from Your Friends – 5 Tips

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All writers have at least one friend who can be trusted with their babies–both their actual children AND writings-in-progress. Perhaps you are blessed with an arsenal of buddies, pals and mentors who are avid readers, writers, editors or English majors. Fabulous. You know who to turn to when the words have been written. But can your acquaintances, family, Facebook “friends” and other relationships be a stepping stone to making your writing richer, more realistic and ready for an audience?

Writer Kolina Cicero, who maintains an engaging blog here, says, “I have recently discovered just how useful my friends and family are when it comes to writing. Whether it’s their opinion on my characters or their cheerleading skills, they have helped me every step of the way in my writing process.”

Here are Cicero’s five ways to take advantage of your circle without making them mad:

5. Survey them

I agree  with Kolina on this: I recently had a small crisis over some character names. I used this blog, my Twitter (@RebeccaLacko) and Facebook accounts to see how my readers respond to names, and they gladly helped me sculpt my characters.

4. Enlist their services

If they are your true friends, they’re interested in what you’re working on. Ask them to read over your work and provide them with a short list of questions: Can you tell he’s angry even if he doesn’t say so? What would make a better story, ending A or ending B? Does this sentence make any sense?

3. Base characters from your friends’ quirks

From habitually over-watering their plants to never wearing two matching socks, your friends have some oddities to them that are surely among the greatest resources for character development.

2. Use their support

When you feel you’ve hit a roadblock or that your piece isn’t worthy of being published, confide in your loved ones. They’ve seen how much time and effort you’ve invested in your writing and they won’t let you give up.

1. Listen to their dialogue

Dialogue is the ultimate tool when forming characters. If you pay close attention to the way your friends speak, you will better understand how specific personalities communicate and, as a result, formulating your dialogue will be an easier task.

How do you draw on your friends to help you with your writing? Practical or inspirational? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Rebecca Lacko
A columnist and fiction writer, Rebecca Lacko chronicles the sometimes chaotic adventures of exploring the world with her husband and two sons.

Her food column, The Unassuming Foodie, has been featured in a celebrity charitable cookbook, which was the finalist in the cookbook category of the 2009 National Best Books Awards sponsored by USA Book News. Her blog, Rebecca Lacko allows a perfect distraction from writing her first fiction novel about a hopelessly dysfunctional Orange County family unraveling at the seams.
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