John Grisham is the well-known writer of many bestselling legal thrillers. Before the advent of his dramatic and gripping thrillers, readers could not have imagined it possible to connect the dry legal field with thrills and suspense! John Grisham changed all that and used his professional knowledge of the legal world, and his great writing skills to become one of the most popular authors of suspense and drama.
John Grisham was a self-taught writer who worked hard to become successful, and he offers a lot of useful advice to new writers.
1. Focus on the suspense
John Grisham advises new writers to focus on the core of the book. If you are writing a suspense novel– don’t get sidetracked with other components. As he stated during one of his many well-publicized interviews, “When you write suspense, you cannot spend too much time with other elements of the story, such as setting, food, wine, relationships, etc. It’s a long list. You have to continually keep in mind that you are trying to make sure the pages are turning at a rapid rate.”
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Characters, dialogue, and other elements are important, but should be used to add to the suspense.
2. Outline your work
Having a clear roadmap of the book is essential to plot a great suspense novel. John Grisham learnt this the hard way after he finished his first novel, A Time to Kill, which was about 900 pages long and disorganized. He apparently had to cut at least 300 pages before it was useable. Since then, he advocates planning out your book carefully to save writing time, as well as to make the content better. To quote the expert himself, “The more time I spend on the outline, the easier it is to write the book.”
3. A page a day
This is a great mantra for every aspiring writer. No matter how difficult it is, or how busy you are with other things, you can surely make time to write at least one page a day. Instead of setting a monthly or weekly writing goal, make it a daily habit- as routine as your morning cup of coffee. This way, you are working slowly but steadily and consistently towards your goal. And before you know it, you will have a full manuscript ready to edit and publish. To quote John Grisham, “Write at least one page every day, without fail. If you’re trying to write a book, and you’re not writing at least one page a day, then the book is not going to get written.”
4. A book a year
John Grisham has another great piece of career advice for new writers. Once you get that first book out, don’t slow down or get complacent. The first few books can establish you as a solid and consistent writer worth watching out for, or break your writing career if the books are coming too slow and too far between.
He was once told that the big and famous authors “come out every year” and took this advice to heart, “I heard that loud and clear. At the time I was about halfway through The Pelican Brief and had no idea when it would be finished or published. But I went home, locked myself away for 60 days and finished the book. It was published a year after The Firm. One year after that I published The Client. Those three books had an enormous impact on everything that followed.”
5. Start writing as a hobby
John Grisham advises young writers to find their career, which may not be writing at first. Which is okay, because before you become a full-time writer, you need to experience other things in life so that you have something to write about.
He recommends aspiring writers to start writing right away- as a hobby initially. When you have a regular source of income from your day job, the financial pressure is not so great and you can enjoy the writing process to produce your best work.
Image credit: John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CS_Rajan.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]CS Rajan is a freelance writer who loves to write on various topics, and is currently working on her first novel. [/author_info] [/author]