This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
The lovely Claudia Carroll gives us her tips for aspiring writers.
So many people say to me, ‘oh I’d
love to write, if I had the time.’ You can make the time. The late, great Maeve
Binchy used to advise anyone time-poor to just get up two hours earlier in the
morning and work then, when the house is quiet and no one is bothering you.
You’d be amazed at the clarity of thinking you get in the early hours and it’ll
be worth the exhaustion when you see your published baby sitting on a shelf!
I would highly recommend
doing out a skeleton outline for your story before you really get stuck
in. So often, you might think, oh I’ve a great idea for a book, but then
when you actually sit down to block it out chapter by chapter, a bit like
a road map, you realise actually it’s unsuitable for a full-length book.
Also character biographies I find are a great help in really fleshing out
a character and making them as 3-D as possible.
Charles Dickens was a master of the cliff hanger chapter ending, and the best piece of advice I ever got was to end each chapter of your story with a good cliff hanger, just so that the reader will genuinely want to turn over the page and read on. In fact Dickens’ stories were originally printed in serial form, I suppose a bit like a forerunner to a modern day soap opera!
Oscar Wilde said, ‘be yourself. Everyone else is taken.’ Thing is, there are so many different voices out there now in women’s’ commercial fiction, all brilliant and yet all very different and unique. I sometimes have people saying to me, ‘I want to write a book like Patricia Scanlan or Sophie Kinsella,’ and I just think it can be a huge mistake to try to write what you think the market wants, just because it’s already out there. I really believe it should be the other way round; far best to write in your own voice, in your own unique style.
Another thing, there are far more literary agents now than there were certainly when I was starting out. An agent will mind you, encourage you and immediately know which is the best publisher to pitch your work to. I’d advice anyone to send their chapters to an agent first and work from there.
Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!