Welcome to the second in our new series, Wisdom Wednesday, where we put questions to two of our best writers to steal their knowledge. Whether you are nervously staring at your keyboard yet to write your first prompt response, or looking to the next big leap in your writing, our writers are bound to have some writing wisdom to help.Last month we chatted with u/Palmerranian and u/Xacktar. This month we are joined by u/nickofnight and u/Ryter99.nickofnight is a current WP hall of fame member, a winner of two best-of awards in 2019, and, alongside u/ecstaticandinsatiate, co-runs a personal subreddit with 3.6k members.Ryter99 became a spotlit writer back in August 2019, and has a personal subreddit with over 1000 members.So without further delay, on with the questions.——————-Looking back, what faults were there in your early writing?nickofnightIf a new writer is reading this: don’t worry about mistakes. Start writing and work on fixing it after you have some experience. That said, looking back at my early writing:Grammar: Mine was terrible and I didn’t care. I just wanted to tell an entertaining story. But the truth is, it’s a lot more entertaining/enjoyable for someone to read a story if it’s well written. Imagine reading a book that’s one giant paragraph — it’d feel like your eyes are trying to tread water but the water’s syrup. Improve your grammar for your readers’ benefit and for your own benefit, too.Point of view: I flipped back and forth between first and third for a long time, thinking one was superior, then changing my mind each month after. In reality there’s no best POV; there’s only the most suitable for the story you want to tell. That includes second person : ) Practice them all, and practice them all in different tenses. That way you can decide on the best way to tell your future story.Show don’t tell: If you’re not familiar with this advice it means don’t just say to your reader what’s happening (“Nick read the letter and felt really angry”) but provide enough info for the reader to work it out for themselves (“Nick read the letter and slammed his fist against the table” – why would nick do that? Ah, he’s probably angry because of the letter.) It’s good advice but don’t overdo it. If you start “showing” every little action in detail it bogs down the story and can make it slow and boring.Watch your ego: Comments here are wonderfully motivating but can sometimes be a touch over-enthusiastic (hyperbolic). So try to stay grounded, realistic, and always work on improving.What helped me, and still is helping me with all the above is: a) self-motivation to improve b) asking for critiques from writers with experience/who are better than me (to have half my story red-penned by Lilwa or Ecstatic keeps me grounded ) c) reading books and seeing better writing.Ryter99All- all of the faults? Yeah, all of them, haha. That’s the honest answer. I’d never written creative fiction before posting here. My grammar was terrible, I didn’t know how to use dialogue tags properly, and I had far too few line breaks. Especially with Reddit’s formatting quirks, walls of text were my specialty!To improve on those issues, I started reading a lot more to learn how accomplished authors structured their stories and books. I also sought out more in depth critiques of my writing. That can be difficult to find because feedback on the internet tends to either be overly glowing or needlessly harsh. What worked for me was submitting my writing to a couple of friends of friends with experience. I also got over my fears and started writing for Theme Thursday’s here on the sub and joined the weekly feedback/critique sessions (known as campfires) on Discord. I’d highly recommend that route for honest but constructive feedback.nickofnightI open up WP frontpage to see if there’s anything newish there that interests me. I don’t mind what the prompt is, as if it’s uninteresting (to me) then I look for a way to tell a story that makes it interesting to me. WP is the perfect place for practice, so I try out a lot of different styles. I spend a few minutes thinking about where I want the story to go (if I’m lucky, I have the ending first) and how I want to tell it, and then start. It’ll often change as I get going from what I initially had in my head — and that’s fine as it’s the nature of writing without much of a pre-planned plot. Editing is just a read over, maybe two reads, correcting mistakes and adding or deleting a few sentences.Ryter99After finding a prompt that inspires me, I dive in as quickly as possible before ideas escape my brain. Maybe half the time I can write a story from beginning to end. The other half, I only have a seed of an idea. Sometimes just a single scene, or even one little joke I know I want to include. I’ll get whatever I have down on the page, then set to work trying to build toward the moment I think is at the heart of the story. Once I’m finished, I give it a read/edit, a spelling/grammar check, and post. After that, I try to get away for 10-20 minutes, then do a second edit of my post with fresh eyes (a lot of great stuff comes from editing).If you’re a new writer who doesn’t know where to start, but you’ve got an idea for even a single line in your head, jot it down and just have fun seeing what you can build around it. Way more accomplished writers than myself have noted that writing is often a messy process, and that’s okay!Do prompt responses help your other writing?nickofnightAbsolutely! When I entered my first flash fiction contest about three years ago, I surprised myself by doing pretty well. I can only put that down to the practice I’ve had here, because this was the only place I wrote at the time.WP taught me how to write flash fiction with a clear beginning, middle, and end. And flash fiction is a shorter short story — the condensed essence of one. And a short story is a shorter form of a novel. There are differences between them all, like you’re rarely going to develop deep characters with compelling arcs when writing flash fiction here (although it certainly can be done), or get to practice long twisting plots and side plots. But stories here do share a lot of the same elements as short stories and novels. It’s a fantastic place to practice the basic elements and experiment.Ryter99There are unique challenges to different formats, but overall? Definitely. In my experience, improving your core writing skills takes at least two things: practice and feedback. Not all your prompt replies will get feedback, but there is a nearly unlimited supply of prompts to practice on. If you respond to a couple per week, you’ll inevitably start to build up your writing muscles.The other benefit of r/WritingPrompts is that you can try out a ton of different genres and styles. My first popular story here was a silly one about a guy who could fix problems with the wrong tool (including fixing a broken down car with a croissant). One of my more recent ones was a serious tale written from the POV of dairy cows journeying to India in search of heaven on Earth.That degree of extreme variety has kept me interested after writing dozens and dozens of stories. Sounds minor, but remaining genuinely interested helps you stay motivated to write, which allows you to practice and improve more, rinse, repeat. I think it’s a pretty good cycle to get into.What simple tricks and changes improved your writing?nickofnightThis isn’t a trick and it’s repeated advice, but read. It’s amazing how many of us writers don’t read enough. We seem to have this belief that unlike all those other writers, we don’t need to. But I don’t know of any traditionally published writer who doesn’t read voraciously. Reading will improve your writing so force yourself to. And try to actively see how it was written: how the story started, how the characters were introduced, how they change, the pacing of the plot, the style it’s written in, etc.Here’s one trick I love: When something has happened to your main character that has caused a bunch of powerful emotions (let’s say that a loved one has died), don’t pick and describe the obvious emotion. We’ve read “tears rolled down my cheeks” a million times before. We get it, they’re sad. But humans are complex and we feel more than one thing at a time — what other emotions are they feeling? Maybe it’s a pang of nostalgia from a certain time together — the MC could look back at that time and you can leave it to the reader to infer what your character is feeling. Or perhaps they’re jealous that the other person has “escaped”. But not sad, because we (readers) expect to read that and, as such, it’s not interesting — it doesn’t upset us because we’re so used to it. Explore all the emotions they might be feeling and pick one that’s more interesting and original. I wrote a prompt response the other day where an old man is getting beaten up; his thoughts weren’t on his current situation but on the ducks he usually feeds in the park and how he’s hoping that they’ll be ok without him. This (hopefully) provides a better emotional connection to him and shows his character.If you do choose sad, show it in an unusual, original way. For example, you could have them take the deceased person’s favourite mug out of the cupboard and fill it with soil.Ryter99Nickofnight is seriously a much better writer than I am, so I’ll let him take this one. Oh… I have to answer as well? That’s sorta the whole setup here? Ahh, gotcha. Well, it’s common advice, but reading your own writing out loud helped me a ton. You’ll discover so many awkward phrasings and other easily fixable issues that way.A second piece of well-worn good advice is to “make writing a habit”, but I’ll try to personalize it a bit by amending that to: Learn to do the best work you can within the constraints of your real, daily life.For all of us that could mean trying to write when not exhausted from work, school, kids, etc. For me that’s meant finding the best windows to write when I’m least affected by some long running health issues I’ve dealt with. I’m still improving and getting better, but in the meantime, I’ve made a concerted effort to study what times of day I’m sharpest, how to schedule medications in a way so they don’t negatively impact my best writing windows, etc. Planning my writing schedule ahead of time whenever possible has helped me out immensely.It’s not advice, but on that note, I’ll close by saying: If you’re writing while dealing with any kind of health issue, you have my genuine encouragement and support. Keep battling and keep writing.How do you approach writing when the genre or style is new and daunting?nickofnightIn certain flash fiction competitions each competitor is assigned a random genre/item to include/location. You’re forced out of your comfort zone and it can be a daunting experience. But once you’ve written in that new genre once or twice you become much more comfortable with it. You’ve probably seen a movie or tv show in just about every genre anyway, so your brain will have ideas lurking somewhere. Don’t be afraid to do research, too. Search for flash fiction on google in the genre you’re worried about and see how others have approached it.Ryter99If I’m anything, I’m basically a comedy writer. Joke writing (for myself and others in stand-up acts and scripts) was the only thing resembling creative writing I’d dabbled in previously. I still love giving people a laugh, but my earliest stories exclusively stuck to my comfort zone (humor) because I was afraid to write anything else. Logically, I have no idea why anyone would trust a voice in our heads telling us not to try new and exciting things, but I know I did for way too long.Overcoming those fears is a unique thing for everyone. Personally, I have to constantly remind myself that nothing good in my life has happened without taking a risk. With that in mind, eventually my desire to improve as a writer overcame my concerns about stepping outside my comfort zone.For new writers, writing anything might feel out of your comfort zone, I know I felt that way. My best advice is to use any rationale (my example or your own) to keep fear from interfering with your life, creative or otherwise. If you’ve ever wanted to write, this is a great, generally welcoming community to start with. Don’t be afraid to jump on in!——————So now that you’ve read the sage words of Nick and Ryter it’s your turn. Tell us what early flaws you struggled with when you first started writing? (I’m still struggling to get rid of filter words). How did you overcome those early struggles? (For me, it was listening to critiques at campfire).If you are new to the community, feel free to simply say hi below, or ask questions of your fellow writers. Alternatively, got a question you would like to put to next month’s writers? Ask below and we’ll try to include it in March.——————-New Custom Awards! – Check them out!Come hang out at The Writing Prompts Discord!Want to have the power to grab your favorite writers and force them to answer your questions every month? Try applying for a mod position.