“Ask Me A Question” Answers

Ask the writer a questionSince I started writing tutorials I have had people ask me questions. Some of them have turned into tutorials, others I will answer in cluster posts like this one! 🙂

If you have any questions, feel free to leave me comments here in this blog, on my dA page or through notes if you come here from deviantART or via the Submit a Tutorial form… you can use that for questions as well.

Here are some I’ve had:

Q – My [family / friends / teachers / coach / hairdresser / binman] (select as appropriate) does not think I can make it as a published writer. Should I do something else and let writing go?

A – Are any of these people published authors in the same field you want to write in? Are any of these people respected editors? Are they agents to successful authors? The likelihood to these questions is a whopping NO.

If however by some miracle the answer is yes…..then nod, smile and ignore them and push on anyway! (Though if they are editors, agents or published writers you could always ask for their professional opinion as to WHY they think you can’t be a published writer)

Unless these people are proven clairvoyants, they have no way of knowing if you will be published or successful.

FACT: many successful writers were rejected (A LOT) before they were published which goes to show that even professional editors and respected agents don’t always know a good thing when they see it.

Why does it matter what these people think? Now THAT’s the question you should be asking yourself.

My family were supportive in a smile-and-nod kind of way. When I was younger they indulged the fantasy of me being a writer (probably because it kept my quiet)… but that soon changed when they started to hope the “phase” would end and I would discover a love of accounting, law or a drive to reach middle management in some massive global industry… (laughs hysterically at this)

There were more and more talks about “getting my head out of the clouds” and pressure to make sure I knew I needed a “real job” with “security” and “career prospects” (blah blah).

In fact people’s dismissal of my ability has been a great driving force. I don’t like being told I can’t do something. It’s always been a pet peeve of mine.

The older you get the less you give a shit about other people’s opinions about you. Yes you might need to get a so-called “real job”. I have one but I don’t class it as my “real job” it is what pays my bills, keeps my laptop charged, supplies me with paper and printer ink… but writing will always be more real to me.

So stop listening to nay-sayers and listen to your own wants…and if you have doubt then just listen to me and my answer is NO, don’t give up. Never give up, if it is your passion.

Q – I have dyslexia but I want to be a writer, is it going to be a problem?

A – I don’t have dyslexia myself personally but my brother has it, as do a number of friends and work colleagues.

It can make things harder but it should not stop you from becoming a writer. The best thing I can recommend is to make things easier for yourself. Here are some tips:

  • When you are typing your story, use larger fonts with no serifs.
  • Change the colour of your background either on-screen or by adding an acetone screen. Colours that work best vary from person to person so you may need to try a few, most of the people I know work with either a soft yellow or a pale blue.
  • When you are reading through your work or editing etc, make sure people know not to interrupt you, allowing you more time to concentrate on the task. Put up a notice on your door, shut off your phone, close any programs that might draw your attention.
  • Use Mind Mapping for your ideas, plots and character details – because it uses colours, images, shapes and symbols it can be an easier way for you to comprehend all the data you have for your novel.
  • Consider looking into Talk and Type softwares where you can record your words and they are transcribed into text. This doesn’t have to be used all the time, but can help if you are ever stuggling, just to get your thoughts down.
  • When formatting don’t justify your writing, leave it as a left alignment.
  • Use double lined spacing when you type.
  • Print your hard copies onto coloured paper if you prefer to edit by hand – again colour will be dependent on each individual but usually the softer pastel colours are best.

I hope this list helps and for any other dyslexics out there, if you have any tips please add them in the comments!

Q – I can’t always come up with really good descriptive words for things so end up using really obvious ones, how can I find better words to use?

A – The best advice for this is READ. The more you read the better your vocabulary, try different genres and styles of books, try older ones and more modern ones. If you read a story and see a word that really jumps out at you, write it down, have a pad full of strong descriptive words.

There are also some very cool people who have created lists of words such as 100 words to use instead of “bad”. These can usually be found on Pinterest so can give you a little help. The more you read and the more you write, you will find your descriptive ability develops.

Ask people – speak to friends and family and anyone else to see what word they can think of that works best. Usually you end up with a few people all giving you different words and none seem right and then suddenly someone will say something and it’s like “YES, that’s it!”

If you can’t think of a word, use the obvious one and highlight it on the screen (or on paper), you can always come back to it later. Don’t get too caught about it if the rest of the story is chomping at the bit to get written.

On an additional note, we can sometimes overindulge with adjectives and adverbs so make sure you are not adding something excessive when the obvious one may work better.

Q – I’m writing a novel so how many chapters should I aim for?

A – I’m not sure why people think about this. Forget chapters, just write the story, when the story is written you can then go and cut it up into chapters.

At this stage you might find most of your chapters are 13 pages long but then some just end up as 3 pages because of the way the story peaks at hook points. Chapters are not a set length, so you don’t need to have a set number.

Obviously a novel of 80,000 words and 3 chapters would not be a great idea but you can have 30+ chapters or you can have 12. Whatever the story asks for when you look through it and start to break it into scenes.


If you have had these questions, I hope these answers gave you something to think about. Have a writing question you want answering? Drop me a comment and if I can answer it I will.

If you have had a look around the blog and like my tutorials why not follow my blog (it will make me so happy!), I upload new posts on Fridays at 18:30 BST (mostly) 🙂

Happy writing


NB: Photo purchased through http://www.depositphoto.com

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