My Top Tips for Writing a Novel

  • Writing is conscious dreaming. We all have the power to manipulate our dreams in certain states of sleep.  I find the writing process to be very similar.  The initial thread of a story can be extended almost endlessly by the imagination as it follows a character on his or her journey through life.
  • Ask the question ‘What if?’ These two words are my most helpful tools when writing a novel. They help me to come up with new scenarios: ‘What if x were to happen? How would x react? What would the consequences be? Where would this lead the plot?’
  • Learn to touch type. This is one of the most useful skills I learnt all those years ago at school using a program called Mavis Beacon.  The IT teacher used to cover our hands with a piece of card and we’d spend hours practising to type without looking at the keys.  It allows me to keep pace with my train of thought as I type.
  • Think of your main character’s full name. For some reason until I have found the perfect name for my heroine I cannot begin the novel.  She will start as a vague picture in my mind that slowly becomes more clearly defined.  I start running through lists of names until I find the perfect name to match the image in my head.  Once I have this I look for a surname and as soon as the character is named she tends to take on a life of her own and from there I spin the web of family and friends that will accompany her along the way.
  • Start writing. Don’t be afraid! There is nothing more off putting than an empty page – as soon as you have typed your first few words there is something to work with.
  • The vomit draft. I once read an author describe the first draft as the “vomit draft” and I completely agree. Just keep ploughing on until the first draft is complete then the real fun can begin as you refine, edit and tweak until you are happy with your manuscript.
  • Show don’t tell. Where possible avoid telling the reader information, show them instead. This is still something I am working on and probably the part of writing I need to concentrate on the most.
  • Enjoy the escapism. It doesn’t matter what is going on in your life, as soon as you sit down to write you escape into a dream world of your own creation, your characters soon feel like the oldest of friends and you can get lost in your imagination – time will fly!


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