A new author feature on Serendipity Reviews where authors give us the best of their writing tips to help all aspiring and unpublished writers achieve their ultimate goal. First to guide us is Alan Gibbons, author of Raining Fire, which was published by Indigo on March 7th 2013.
1. Write for yourself on three conditions:
*don’t be self-indulgent. You are also writing for an audience and they are not all you.
*don’t do anything that will stop your book being purchased, downloaded or borrowed. You want to be published and you want to go on being published.
*be aware that your book is not just a mirror reflecting your own obsessions. It is also a product on the marketplace. Don’t give up your integrity to earn a buck, but writers do need a roof over their heads and food in their bellies.
2. Try to make some kind of plan before you start. Your book needs a shape to it. When I have struggled with a book it is usually because I just started writing and made a complete hash of it.
3. Don’t let the plan stifle your energy. It is a rough guide. It will change as you write.
4. Writing is work. Talent matters, but self-discipline and effort might just matter more.
5. Write first. Redraft later. Get the basic shape of the story down then put it aside for a while. When you come back to it, you will see the flaws with a fresh viewpoint.
6. Create a world within which the reader can live for a time. Every writer says show don’t tell. Sort out the rules and dynamics of your fictional world and stick to them. Paint a picture in the reader’s head. Your palette is made up of stuff like vocabulary, description, metaphor and simile, but only use them when you need them. Don’t show off.
7. Think how you are going to create your characters. How do they speak? Make the dialogue sharp and interesting. What do they do? Actions speak louder than internal monologue.
8. Have a bust-up. Conflict drives narrative.
9. Don’t drown the reader in detail. Research is important, but it is secondary. Narrative and character are primary. For every 100 cool things you find out about the historical or social background to your novel you might use five or ten.
10. Be a reader to make yourself a better writer. Stop staring in the mirror. There are lots of other writers out there who are just as good as you. Some will be better. Learn from them. Immerse yourself in their voices to help your own voice come out clearer. We stand on the shoulders of giants
Raining Fire by Alan Gibbons is published by Indigo on 7 March 2013
trade paperback £8.99, eBook £4.99
Bio: Alan Gibbons is a full time writer and organiser of the Campaign for the Book.
To find out more about Alan Gibbons: