Writing Do’s and Don’ts – by Barb Beacham

I’d like you to meet Barb Beacham, whom some of you may know from her blog  at http://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com/

(I think she’s cheating with her selfie. We can’t really see our mystery guest clearly, but she’s a bit shy.)


Here is Barb with some of her ideas and tips about writing:

Thank you, Anneli, for inviting me to share about writing with you and your followers.

I have been writing for years. My ideas come to me at the most unexpected moments. When I see something and it strikes a chord, I write it down. You would not believe the pile of notes I have. There are notes on napkins, post-it notes, and on the backside of envelopes. I have since learned…First rule: Always carry something to write on and something to write with.

This leads to watching and experiencing. You have to watch life in order to understand it. You also have to experience it, with all of its rough edges and smooth spots, as well as those that are just a hmmm…People-watching leads to an understanding of human nature, and animal nature too. It is easier to write about something that you have experienced and places you have been, rather than  just making something up. I am an avid reader and I can tell you it is always apparent when the writer does not have knowledge.

When experiencing a moment in time, ask yourself, “Where will this go next?” I was sitting in an airport at a gate area that did not look like what all of us are used to. Everyone was sitting on the floor. A man walked into this area with a toy monkey on a tube that had a bulb on the end. All he said to us was, “Ninos.” Let’s look at this and ask: Was he selling a toy for kids? Was it a device that would detonate on the plane? Or, could the toy be possessed by the devil?

Write about what you know. Sure, you can tweak a situation to make it work for you. That is what fiction is all about. Write about places that you have been. This is certainly easier than dreaming up a world, like Tolkien did, which by the way was brilliant. Maybe Middle Earth was based on his surrounding area? Can’t you just hear him say to himself, “Doesn’t that mountain over there, with the cut off top, the rugged hillside, and the glow of the rising sun behind it, look like Mt. Doom?”

Face your fear of writing and being criticized. Not everyone is going to like what you write, but many others will appreciate it. Look at all the negativity that Hunter S. Thompson got on his articles and books. They still made a movie out of that book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The book was great, the film…not so good. Crazy as it was – the book that is – it was a journey that was one man’s adventure. Did you have any of those when you were young that were so crazy it brings a smile to yourself today?

Beware: Do not create characters, or name them, with something that identifies that person in a way that others will recognize. Blend instead. Blend your unreasonable mother with the sweet lady who baked you cookies when you were a kid.

Have a plan. Seems like a lot of work, but it will be worth it. This plan is the road map to your writing. Take all those notes you have collected and set them in an order that makes sense. Those that don’t? Use them for something else. You do not have to write in order of that map. You can write where the wind blows you. In the end, make sure that it works. Ask a friend to read it with a critical eye.

And then there’s passion.  Passion is a huge driving force in writing.  It helps you to pull what you have inside yourself out and into the words.  If you are passionate about the project, the words will flow.

Regarding writer’s block:  When you hit that wall, step away from what you are doing and take a walk, bake some cookies, just do something else for a while.  You need to step away from writing in order for that flow to come back.  Don’t be discouraged over this.  Mark Twain stepped away from “The Adventures Huckleberry Finn” for a couple of years.  He was midway through the book when he did this.

Nothing drives me crazier than reading a book, a published book, that has grammar errors and typos. Check, re-check, and re-check again. Use a software program that will review that too. Be aware that words do sometimes get bypassed because they are spelled correctly, but the usage is wrong. Another reason to have someone else who is good with your native language review your writing.

The last thing that you need to do is practice writing. Flash fiction challenges are good for this. You have to write a story with a limited number of words (make sure you stick to that limit) that has a beginning, middle and end. I would love to see what you write and will help you. Please visit my flash fiction site Mondays Finish the Story.


I thank Barb Beacham for her insights into her writing. What about you, dear Reader? Your comments are always welcome on my blog. Please “add your two bits’ worth.” We’d love to know what you think.