As a writer and editor, aspiring writers frequently ask me for tips and I want to share my knowledge in order to allow more like-minded and imaginative individuals to get jobs in a highly competitive field. It’s not enough to simply be good at writing, you actually need (like any other profession) to have dedication, focus and a certain level of professional nous. Let’s have a look at some of the key things here.
First things first – it is important to start small. Trying to sit down and write your first novel from scratch doesn’t work. It didn’t work for me and I doubt it will work for you, as it can be difficult, trying, stressful and can quickly become overwhelming. So start by trying to write just a couple of paragraphs a day. It’s important to develop this skill and, like everything, the more you do it, the better you get. As time goes on, you’ll realize you’re continuously exceeding the number of paragraphs you’ve set yourself.
At the heart of any good story are the characters; therefore the first point of call is to develop the characters. You should know them inside out, what their views are, who their family is and how they interact with their friends. This in turn will allow you to develop the plot and set yourself up to conquer the beginning of the book.
On a side note, it is important to be able to get down to writing whenever the mood takes. I personally find my phone is good for capturing notes or audio when I’m away from home and inspiration hits. However when I’m at home, my desktop computer can’t be beaten when it comes to sitting down with my headphones on and typing away to my heart’s content. It’s also a good starting point to have a look at computers online and equipment which will allow you to aid your creative flow of ideas.
Another handy tip is to keep a notepad next to your bed for when ideas pop into your head. For me, I always find my mind is at its most active before I finally drift off to sleep, and as much as I think I’ll remember in the a.m., nine times out of ten I’ll have forgotten come morning.
An important thing to remember is that it is good to get the opinion of others — especially fellow authors or editors.. It can be hard to share your work with other people, but a good place to do this could be in a writers group. Not only does it allow you to work with other writers and learn from them, but they can also critique your work and help deepen your character development.
With that said, always, always remember that this is your story, and although it is important to consider what other people have to say and to take on their feedback, remember to have a critical eye when it comes to editing. It is also just as crucial to remember that you have the final say and that this is your baby, thus you have the ability to take any and all comments on board but that you have the final choice when it comes to which suggestions you feel will make your book better.
hope these few do’s and don’ts help you to get your story down on pen and paper (aka typed up and saved onto the cloud). I think fundamentally, we all need to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that writing a novel is most certainly a work in progress. Give yourself the time and space to be able to expand your characters and to take the plot to a place you are happy with, and always be sure to stick to your guns when it comes to your story.
*This article was contributed.