This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
1. Be a magpie: keep a really beady eye on the world around you and collect snippets of things that intrigue, fascinate or scare you! Children’s author Tamsyn Murray wrote a blog post about this and I love this part: ‘when we're ready, we gather all our scraps up and weave them together to make something out of them. And I decided that this process reminded me a little of nest building.’ Your scraps might come from what you keep talking about with friends on a night out; the man you see every day when you’re on the bus; pictures in an old magazine you’re leafing through at the dentist; a TV news story; even (as in Julie Cohen’s wonderful Where Love Lies) a fleeting fragrance. Allow your mind to be playful – what might have happened beyond the picture, where does the man go every day, what happened when the TV cameras leave? The best ideas seem to come from random connections you make when you’re least expecting them.
2. Be free: when you’re writing your first draft, don’t look back, at least not for the first 20,000 words. First drafts are meant to be rough and ready and in places, absolute rubbish. But by writing it, you’ll get to know your characters and your story, and when you get to the second draft, you’ll know far more about where you’re heading and how to make it brilliant! If you keep stopping and rewriting the beginning, you’ll never reach the end.
3. Be fast: for me, the initial enthusiasm for an idea gives me huge creative energy, and I love to take advantage of that by writing in bursts and getting the story framework down. I wrote the first draft of The Secret Shopper’s Revenge in three months, and A Batch Made in Heaven took only a few weeks more. But then …4. Be ruthless: when you’re editing, switch hats from creative genius to pernickety editor. They’re two very different skills and you can’t do both at once. So once you’re out of the free and easy stage, be tough on your sentences, paragraphs, chapters and your overall story. Question everything, and relish cutting and rewriting – it’s where the real work is done.
5. Be savvy: don’t write FOR the market, but keep an eye on what’s popular and find your own twist on it. For example, there are lots of psychological thriller writers out there – and possibly one too many missing spouses for my liking – but someone like C.L. Taylor has found her own niche with amazing unreliable female characters whose secrets you can’t wait to uncover (her new one, The Lie, is even more thrilling than her amazing debut).
A Batch Made in Heaven by Kate Harrison is out now.