I love writing but it can be very isolating. So in 2018 I have been out and about at writing festivals, book launches and writers groups. It has been an education. Chats with authors, agents and publishers have been illuminating and there is still so very much left for me to learn. I have compiled the best ten top writing tips that have been passed on to me in 2018:
- Read you work out loud. When you have finished your short story or novel, read it out loud to yourself. It picks up any missing words, irregularities in sentences and, best of all, sense. It is time consuming but so worth it. If you can’t read it out loud, listen to it. You can listen to and uploaded Word document by enabling text to voice, or upload a word document to your Kindle. Choose the least robotic accent!
- Submit short stories to anthologies. Not the expensive paid anthologies, the charity anthologies and those organised for a cause or by a writing groups. More than one agent told me that they scout them for talent.
- Find a plotting chart that allows you to move your story on as well as detailing characters, worlds and timelines in multiple strands. Add a column at the end that shows how the scene/chapter progresses the story.
- Listen to other writers. How they work, how thy got started. On fabulous link passed to me is BestsellerExperiment Podcasts Lots of bestselling authors sharing their tips. Joanne Harris on Twitter has some fabulous writing tip lists @Joannechocolat. You absolutely cannot beat experience.
- One gem that was passed on at a writing group was Psychic Distance. I was already aware of it through Emma Darwin’s excellent writing website This Itch of Writing and it is invaluable. Emma’s website is crammed with writing advice explained in the clearest ways. Well worth a look.
- Use an online proofreader. Nothing can ever take the place of the human eye on a document, but before you sent your novel to your editor run it through something like Ginger Proofreader or ProWritingAid I was very impressed by both.
- Read, read, read. It’s difficult to put time into reading when you are focused on writing. But it is essential. Keeping up to date with writers and their books is a way to keep up with trends and the ever important zeitgeist It also gives writers head space to percolate ideas and to pull their own story together. My best ideas come when I am not thinking about my own writing.
- Join ALCS (Authors Licencing Collection Service) and PLR (Public Lending Right) Register your work. Academic, fiction, non-fiction, even photographs – authors receive payments in lieu of university and library lending.
- Join the Society of Authors. A writing friend recommended this. she told me about all the benefits including reduced membership of ALCS. I joined and the Society keeps me fully up to date with everything writing.
- Last but not least – write! It sounds so obvious, but there are so many other things positioned around writing. Groups, forums and festivals are fabulous places to meet other writers but make sure you write every day. I train myself to do this each November with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). You may be more disciplined, but I find other writers so interesting that I become distracted from my writing if I don’t focus on writing every day.
That’s it! This is what I have learned in 2018. It’s been a fabulous writing year for me, with my debut psychological thriller Perfect Ten becoming a bestseller. These tips have worked for me while I write my next book; I hope they are useful to you too!