Charlie Laidlaw is an author and creative writing tutor at Creating Writers
There’s nothing better than being given a bit of advice. That’s certainly true when it comes to writing a book.
While good advice can come in all shapes and sizes, as an author, here my top tips
Read lots of books
You can’t write until you understand the dynamics of a book and how everything fits together to tell a compelling story.
But not just in the genre you want to write in. If you want to write romance, explore the classics or a thriller or a vampire story. Broaden your mind to other authors and how they structure their books.
Books are your teachers, so keep on reading
Reading lots of books is the point that can’t be stressed enough. Books have different components of character, plot, storyline – and much else besides. Figure out why a book in the third-person works, or why it works in the first-person.
Understand why it works in the present tense or past tense, or in both. Understand why you like a character, or what you think is missing. Become of critic of other peoples’ work.
Understand why you like a book.
Read like a detective, not as a reader. Absorb everything that every book has to offer. Try to understand why you’ve enjoyed one book, and not another book in a similar genre. Is it the structure? Is it the characters? Be analytical.
Know your limitations.
You don’t immediately become a doctor or pilot. Likewise, you have to learn how to write. In the past, creative writing courses, like Creating Writers, didn’t exist. Now they do, and they can offer a short-cut to success.
Take inspiration from the world around you. A beautiful sunset. A lovely landscape. More than anything, don’t think that the complete idea for a book is going to jump into your mind. Inspiration only comes in bits and pieces.
The trick is to write them down, and move onto the next bit of inspiration. Soon the process will become easier as you work your way into the story and get you know your characters.
Every trade or profession needs practice, and writing is no different. It may be hard at first, but it does become easier, particularly when you find a style or ‘voice’ that suits you. Only by practicing can you gain the skill and confidence to really get started.
But you don’t need to write to practice. If you’re in a bus or train, look out the window and describe to yourself in words what you’re looking at. Look at the sky and describe it in your head.
Carry a notebook
An idea forgotten is an idea lost forever. It might just be a clever sentence, or a plot twist, or an idea for a character. Later, you may decide the idea wasn’t a good one, but if you don’t remember it, it’s gone.
I even have a notebook by my bed so that if an idea comes to me in the middle of the night, I write it down. Inspiration doesn’t keep set hours!
Writing is something that we often do when we really should be doing something else. So, if you can, make a certain time of the day or week your writing time. Make sure your family knows this and respects your privacy.
Many authors have high expectations, and are disappointed when those expectations aren’t met. If you are writing a book and want an honest appraisal, you can contact us here. We can offer help and guidance because every book needs to be edited and edited again.
But more than anything, just write because you want to, not because you want to make a fortune. Write because you love writing.
Marathon not a sprint
Some writers aren’t satisfied if they don’t write 1,000 or 2,000 words a day. Don’t fall into that trap because it’s demoralising if you don’t hit that target. Rather, love the writing process itself, not the word count achieved. Books take a long time to complete, and the best books are those that haven’t been rushed.
Lastly, don’t give up.
The majority of writers who start a book, never complete them. So, please don’t give up. It matters that you finish it. It’s an achievement that few people achieve, and something to be proud of. Remember, you’re only a failure when you give up.
Our short and Diploma courses at Creative Writers is all about your success. They’ll give you the tools and confidence to start and finish that first writing journey.
Our courses are online but with lots and lots of face-to-face advice and tuition. You can also start and finish them at your own pace. You can contact us here.
Our success is all about your success.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash