Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Ten Tips for New Writers

by Cindy K. Sproles @CindyDevoted

Over the years, I've learned there are hundreds of tips and ideas that can help you write good fiction and nonfiction. I've also learned that those tips change like the ebb and flow of the ocean. What rings true today changes a year later. 

It can be frustrating, learning one thing and then having it switch the next time you go to a conference, but there are pros and cons to the changes. The pros are we need to continually tuck away new thought processes, style changes, and hints for our writing. A writer's toolbox should overflow with tons of new suggestions and tips. However, the con to these changes is—well—changes. Who really likes changes? Learning the popular desire of publishers today only to have it detour tomorrow grows frustrating. Stick with it.

The point is, you can never learn too much, and you should store away what you cannot use today, for tomorrow is another day just waiting for new innovative thoughts.

Here are ten stable and unwavering tips for writers to rest on with their work.

1. Read, read, read: You must read in your genre. Reading in your genre helps you learn new styles, dialogue oddities, and plot twists you may not have realized were available. Reading in your genre enables you to become more confident in writing in that genre. Read, read, read. This never changes.

2. Don't box yourself into one genre: Explore your avenues in fiction and nonfiction. You never know when you may be asked to write in a different direction. Not only that, but build your platform across the board. If you're a fiction writer, work on nonfiction articles or devotions so your name grows on the nonfiction side, and the same goes for a nonfiction writer. Learn to write short stories, flash fiction or begin a novel, so you benefit readers on the fiction end. There is nothing better than having back pocket surprises and a platform to show for them.

3. Write daily: I've heard it said the credence of writers is, "Butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard." Though there are times you may need to rest or step to the side, the point is, writing daily helps you hone the craft. Practice makes perfect, and writing daily ups that project word count.

4. Be true to yourself: Appalachian historical was called "literary" when I first began to write, and there was no market for it. I met with Cecil Murphy at a conference, who gave me amazing advice. He said, "Literary isn't popular now. But don't you dare stop writing it. You write it, and write it and write it some more. Because it makes you a waymaker. The market will turn, and you will be ready when it does." I wrote other things, learning fiction and nonfiction, but I remained true to my heart of Appalachian historical. It ended up being me who helped relaunch an old genre. Six years later, my first novel is still in the top 15 of the publisher's back list. Stay true to yourself but learn. The tide will turn.

5. Explore the human condition: Some of the best fiction written come from authors who dig into the heart of situations and write the gritty truth about humanity. Savvy readers can see a "tied up in a bow ending" long before it hits, but writing reality in a solid Christian worldview brings truth to a new level and bores into a reader's heart and memory. FYI—Why do you think The Chosen has impacted so many? Truth on a human level.

6. No character is perfect: So don't write one. Give your characters depth. Allow them to make mistakes and pay the price. Let them find a way out through faith, but never write a character who comes across as perfect because none of us are perfect.

7. Angst, angst, angst: The more you dump on your character, the stronger your story will become because it forces you to layer your plot and besides, as sad as it is…we like to see our characters suffer and wait to see how they crawl out of the mire. 

8. Develop your voice: Learn what your voice is and then practice it. Don't be ashamed of who you are. Your voice is your phrasing, your thought process, your tone within your writing, and characters. I'm a mountain girl, and when you read my fiction, you hear ever word from the mouth of a mountain girl. They ain't no changin' that.

9. Learn and understand the three-act structure: Every story must have a beginning, middle, and end. Know where they start and where they end and stick to it.

10. Learn to ping the senses: Every scene written should ping the senses. Touching the sounds, the touch, the noise, and the feel of things brings your story from flat on the page to standing straight up on the page. 

Writing techniques will always ebb and flow, but when you learn these ten things, you can be sure they will remain constant. Pick them apart and practice them. Your toolbox will be filled with amazing things that will kickstart and refine your work.


Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. Having served for a number of years as a managing editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and Ironstream Media, Cindy now works as a mentor, coach, and freelance editor. She is the co-founder of Writing Right Author Mentoring Services with Lori Marett and she is the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Cindy is also the co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries and WWW.CHRISTIANDEVOTIONS.US, as well as WWW.INSPIREAFIRE.COM. Her devotions are in newspapers and magazines nationwide, and her novels have become award-winning best-selling works. She is a popular speaker at conferences and a natural encourager. Cindy is a mountain girl, born and raised in the Appalachian mountains, where she and her husband still reside. She has raised four sons and now resorts to raising chickens where the pecking order is easier to manage. You can visit Cindy at WWW.CINDYSPROLES.COM or www.wramsforwriters.com.


  1. LOVE these constants, Cindy! Ten tips that won't change with the tides. And because those ebb and flow changes are challenging. I'm glad to be reminded of these unwavering practices!

    1. Even for us seasoned writers, these are important.

  2. Love the encouragements woven in this post, Cindy, both for new writers and those further along the writing road.

  3. Thank you. It's hard when trends in writing change. Put 'em in the toolbox. :)