7 Writing Tips From A Famous Author–Charles Dickens

How would you like to be remembered as a writer?

Could you and your writings be honored in a public way like Charles Dickens?

In Britain, Prince Charles led a global celebration to celebrate Dickens’ 200 hundredth birthday. Read-a-thons were held all over the world to commemorate his writings. Even the internet took note. On the Google search engine, a Google doodle of characters from his novels greeted internet surfers.

What can you learn from Dickens that will improve your writing? What are you writing today that can impact your world  in a positive way through your stories, articles or blog posts?

Charles Dickens was a popular English novelist in the mid eighteen hundreds.  He felt compelled to address some of the social issues of the day such as poor child labor laws. Through his novel writing, he raised the level of awareness of the injustices and the unfair treatment of orphans and child laborers.

One of his most famous novels was “Oliver Twist,” about an orphan boy who suffered grave mistreatment. It was even made into a movie that impacts us today.

Dickens sought to encourage others to be more charitable by highlighting the plight of the poor. Millions have watched the movie or seen plays of “The Christmas Carol” and have been warned by Scrooge’s behavior and  inspired to be more generous to those in need such as Tiny Tim and his family.

Dickens used vivid stories to challenge the social injustices of his day, to highlight the plight of the poor and the hardships of the working class.

This awareness of injustice and sensitivity to the poor came in part out of his own misery. When he was twelve, his father was sent to debtor’s prison and he had to go to work. He sat in a cold, dark room with rats running around, as he put labels on shoe polish cans to earn a living.

Later he drew on these experiences to create strong characters and scenes in his creative writing. He knew how to tell a story!

What can you learn from him as a writer?

7 Writing Tips From Dickens’ Writings

1. Opening sentences. He used gripping opening sentences to grab the attention of his readers. One of his openings has even become a classic line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” the first line from “The Tale of Two Cities.”

2. Powerful endings. He used cliff hangers at the end of his chapters to leave his readers hanging. In those days, chapters were released one at a time and people would line up to get the next installment because they were so eager to find out what happened next.

3. Vivid descriptions.  Here’s an example. “She was dressed in rich materials – satins, and lace, and silks – all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white. Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table.” (Great Expectations. Ch.8.) His descriptions gave the reader ability to feel, see, smell and hear the people and scenes. Stories came alive through his descriptions.

4. Strong characters. Dickens was a master at creating characters who linger in our minds and have become a part of our culture such as Ebenezer Scrooge. “Bah, humbug” has even become part of our language.

5. Drama. He used action and dialogue in such a way that pulled the reader into the story. His novels were easily made into movies because of his mastery of dramatic techniques.

6. Social justice writing. He used the pen to confront the evils of the day and sway public opinion. He raised the level of awareness of injustice through the use of his stories.

7. Transformed his personal suffering into helping others. He used his own life experiences and misery to be able to help others in similar situations.

A friend of mine, Lucille Zimmerman said, “I believe writing should be powerful, raw, and beautiful. It should make you think, and act, and it should change you!”

Dickens’ creative writing did that and so can yours. You can learn how to write and pick up writing tips from creative writers such as Charles Dickens. You may not be as famous as Charles Dickens but in your own way, in your corner of the world, you can learn how to write in such a way to impact your arena of  influence.

If you want to learn how to write or how to write better, you can also take courses such as “How to Write for Fun and Profit.” However you decide to learn, do take the time to improve your writing skills so you can write well.

Learn how to write a story. Write your stories, blog posts and articles in ways that captivate, challenge and change your readers’ lives for the better.

13 Responses to “7 Writing Tips From A Famous Author–Charles Dickens”

  1. Columbia Jones

    Hi Sharon,

    This is a wonderful post. In this short list of 7 tips you have covered so much of what id takes to make great writing GREAT! Well done!

  2. Lucille Zimmerman

    Sharon, how fun to be a part of this article. I saw that cartoon on Google but didn’t even know what it was representing. Thank you for informing me about Charles Dickens.

  3. Helen Raptoplous

    Sharon, I just love this post! I loved the 7 tips and noticed that you used many of these yourself in sharing this article. Thank you!

    I am inspired to use these tips in not only my articles and short reports, but also in my emails. These tips can be used very well to personalize and stand out with the way we connect with our subscribers.

    Happy Happy Birthday to Charles Dickens, a great role model and inspiration!

    Helen Rappy

  4. Warren Baldwin

    I linked here from Lucille’s fb post. I am a fan of Dickens, and was glad to read this post about him. Very good!

  5. Paula Shene

    my url is http://www.pshene.webs.com/ not the one previously listed thus the duplicate statement.

    Dickens was one of my favorites. And, his style of writing is one I emulate.

    Thanks for this article.

  6. Katy Jones

    This is well-written and I would like to use it in the Writers Connect group as 2 examples of good writing. Yours and Dickens.

  7. WritersWritingWords (Eleni)

    Studying from masters is following an uphill path — and, oh, so wonderful the view from the hillside, the breeze blowing your hair, wet from sweat 😉

  8. Sharon Gibson

    Thank you Columbia, Helen, Warren, Lucille and Eleni for your comments. Yes, these tips will definitely enhance your writing and draw people to your message. Eleni, I love your creative word picture! Thank you for sharing this with us. I love creative writing. Thank you Katy for your compliment and yes, you may share it with your writing group.

  9. N.Krishnamurthy

    Charles Dickens, I believe, took enormous efforts in spinning words into sentences. His each para looks like a building of many strong bricks set upon in a beatiful manner. Sometimes, I take just one sentence and admire how it has been constructed. You need a whole life to relish his writings! A genius he was! (and thank you for your good tips!)

  10. Sharon Rose Gibson

    Thank you for sharing your insights with us. I enjoy your word picture too. I like your idea of studying his sentence structure. Thanks for bringing out that additional strategy we can learn from Dickens.

  11. N.Krishnamurthy

    Thank you, Madam. Let’s keep in touch. English is an extraordinary language, I am a fan of.

  12. Katina Vaselopulos

    Great post, Sharon, on how we can learn from a great writer.
    Enjoyed it and learned a lot!

  13. Laurie Strickland

    I am writing a film about Charles Dickens now and have a theatrical production of A Christmas Carol I created called “Everyone’s Carol”. He is truly my hero and inspiration and your article is wonderful. Thank you!