by Beth Thomas
10: Don’t give up! It’s hard, time-intensive work, writing, and it can be lonely and frustrating and upsetting. But the rewards – the pride and the sense of achievement – are gigantic and magnificent, so stick with it!
9: If you’re not giving up, you need time. You have to make time to do it. We all have the same amount of time, we just do different things with it. So allow time for writing. This is going to mean not doing something else, so allow for that.
8: To be inspired, you will need to seek inspiration. It rarely simply strikes. If you want to write about interesting things, go and do interesting things! Say yes to opportunities, meet people and try things.
7 Pay attention to how people really speak. We all listen to conversations and voices all day, every so it should be easy to replicate. But it isn’t. Do people say each other’s names repeatedly when talking to each other, for example? No, they don’t. And yet that appears in novels consistently. Badly written dialogue is easy to spot – it’s generally over-dramatic and gushy. And the characters’ names tend to feature a lot!
6 Take a break! I know I said Don’t give up; but at the same time, you will need to have a break from it now and then to recharge. Let your brain lie fallow now and then – it’ll be the richer for it.
5 Make notes or recordings of ideas as they come to you. Even a simple overhead snatch of conversation could be the start of your next story!
4 Write a character profile for each one of your characters before you start, so you have a clear idea of how they will act and react. Their individual behaviour is what makes them real people to your readers.
3 You need to make sure you carry on reading, as often as possible. If you do this, you will have an innate understanding of what a professional piece of writing should ‘sound’ like.
2 Don’t describe someone’s feelings in a situation – ‘She was on hold for so long she got angry.’ It’s much more sophisticated to demonstrate what that would look like instead – ‘She threw the pen across the room and banged the phone down onto the table.’
1 My number one tip for an aspiring writer is always WRITE! Writing is like everything – the more you do, the better you get. So do some every. Single. Day. Even if it’s terrible nonsense, it’s better than nothing. And you never know what might come out of it!
Beth Thomas is the author of Carry You and His Other Life, which are both out now. She is currently working on her third book which is “a little bit supernatural, a little bit surreal, and a little bit romantic”.