1. Instead of writing about what you know, think of writing about an emotion you know, be it love, grief, anger, guilt. A writer has the privilege of being able to move a reader emotionally, make sure you use it and do it subtly so you don’t abuse it.
2. Try to pick your plot apart. Test for any weaknesses and where you find them, make it stronger. Up the stakes, increase the conflict, ensure the characters have motivation for everything they do.
3. Your characters must be real to you. If you don’t care about them, your readers won’t either. Get inside their heads, answer on the psychiatrist’s couch-style questionnaires for each of your characters. If you don’t know what their greatest fear is and when they last cried and why, you don’t really know them at all. Pack a bag, their bag, full of the things they carry with them. And know why everything is there.
4. Do all these things before you think of writing a word of the novel. Planning and preparation can save a lot of rewriting.
5. Remember that finishing the first draft is merely the point where you start to make your novel better.
Linda Green has written three bestselling novels; I Did a Bad Thing, 10 Reasons Not to Fall in Love and Things I Wish I’d Known. She lives in West Yorkshire, England, with her husband and six-year-old son. Her fourth novel with Headline Review, And Then It Happened, will be published in hardback on July 21 and mass-market paperback on October 27.