As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Redditor. What I don’t think I’ve really gone into detail on, though, is what I actually do on Reddit. For the most part I don’t mindlessly browse through cute pictures (though I admit, I do sometimes), but instead, I use the website’s resources to better my writing. And since I began using Reddit for that purpose, I’ve learned a LOT. Today I’d like to share some of those things with you.
The subreddits I’ve most frequented for writing are: /r/writing, /r/fantasy, /r/fantasywriters, and /r/books. There are many, many more to choose from, but these are the ones I picked as some of them are broad and some of them are specializations. If you’re looking for some of your own specific subreddits, there’s the possibility that you’ll find something you’re looking for. As an example, there are lots of them on ebooks and self publishing, as well as many on YA books and the like.
Now for what I’ve actually learned:
1. About literary techniques and other helpful writing methods to get that growing story out of your head.
There’s actually quite a bit on this, because it’s a question that’s asked frequently. Of course, I’ve never really had this question, as when I know it’s time to start writing, I start writing. That isn’t to say I haven’t found anything in this area useful, though. One of the most important things I’ve learned in regards to “getting it out of my head” is to just WRITE it. You can’t get it out if you just brood and don’t actually put words on the page. This was something I kind of struggled with for a while, but that’s when I adopted the half-drafts; doing so gave me the opportunity to first get it out of my head and holding back any thoughts of self-mockery, and then opening the time where I would tweak it to make it an actual first draft.
For literary techniques, while a broad term, there are some very specific ones that I have on my mind when I think of reddit. Those would be two in particular, actually: “Show, don’t tell” and “Clichés”. These two very specific, but very broad literary techniques taught me about writing description and crafting characters and situations that are believable.
2. The difference between writing for an audience and writing for yourself
Maybe it’s not really something you’ve thought about before, but there is a huge difference between writing because it’s what you love to do, and writing because you’re hoping your writing will sell.
Personally, I’m a mix between the two. I write because it’s what I love doing, and most of my personal writing is about things that I’d like to read about and things that I do like reading about. Most of the time what I write about is also something that my close friends will like, but that’s not really directing the work at anyone but myself.
On the other hand, I also write a lot for work. When I write for work, generally speaking, it’s specifically to sell that work to the client. I’m not particularly passionate about it, though I put as much effort into it as I would my own writing. The major difference is that instead of writing in tune with what I want, the writing is in tune with what the person who is paying me wants. This also goes for aspiring authors, too.
What I specifically mean, though, is that there’s a difference between writing what you like because you like it, and writing in a genre/category because that genre sells. From what I know, this is largely how traditional publishing works, a publisher will buy something that they think will sell, and sometimes authors will write what publishers want to buy and then sell.
3. What NOT to do
This is actually what I learned the most about. There are lots of things that you can do, that nowadays is considered “wrong”. Most of the time, at least. A lot of this has to do with vocabulary.
There’s a specific list of words that most people recommend you veer away from. Some of these words are: very, just, got, that, and small, but the list goes on forever. Most of them have the same reasoning behind their elimination, and that’s because the words alone are meaningless and it’s quite simple to replace them with something meaningful or remove them altogether.
A few other things that stuck in my mind were the passive voice (I haven’t much looked into this yet), adverbs, prologues with no apparent relations to the story, and dropping projects.
While there have been more things that I’ve learned that would fit into this post, these are some of what I’ve found most valuable. I hope you find them valuable, too!