This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Jon Rance is the author of This Thirtysomething Life. He's currently working on his second novel Happy Endings, which will be released in August of this year.
1. Write something every single day. Writing is a skill and while most authors have a certain amount of natural ability, writing is still a skill that needs to be worked on and crafted over. Think of it as a muscle. The longer you go without working it out the weaker it gets.
2. Read every book you can in your genre and don’t just read them for fun, but analyse them. Look at the structure, the characters, the plot, the style, everything and learn as much as you can. There’s a reason why books get published. They have to have something a little bit different or special. Read those books and figure out what made them stand out.
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3. If you’re going to self-publish, get it proofread by a professional. I didn’t and I really wish I had. When Hodder got This Thirtysomething Life proofread I was gobsmacked and embarrassed. I have a degree in English Literature, but the number of mistakes was appalling. Pay the money and get it proofread properly. Also get a decent cover. Covers sell books.
4. Less is always more. First time writers tend to go a bit crazy. They start typing away without really thinking about what is needed and what isn’t. A good rule of thumb is to finish the first draft and then cut 10% of the book. I always cut at least that and usually more.
5. Title. Main characters. Motivation. Ending. These are all things I know before I start a book. For some reason I need to have a title. It helps bring the idea together. I need to know the main characters and what their motivations are. What is going to make this book worth reading? I also need to know the ending. Not in great detail, but having an idea where the book is going is essential. Everything else I can work out during the writing process.