I am indebted to my friend and mentor Sue Johnson for the following guest post. She is an amazing teacher and a remarkably talented lady. For all you budding writers out there, who perhaps are afraid of being told off or shouted at, she is encouraging, positive and will boost your confidence without you even noticing! You can contact her via her website, which is at the bottom of the post.
TIPS FOR WRITERS
Poet, novelist and creative writing tutor Sue Johnson shares her tips for successful writing.
1. Carry a notebook wherever you go. Use it to jot down brief descriptions of people and places and fragments of overheard conversation. You will find these useful for creating poems, stories and scenes from novels. You may think you’ll remember every detail until you get home – trust me, you won’t!
2. Write every day even if you only manage ten minutes. It will help to keep the thread going with the story you are working on. Time spent visualising (otherwise known as staring out the window) is never wasted either. The more clearly you can ‘see’ a story before putting pen to paper, the better it will be for your reader.
3. If you’re working on something historical, find out as much as you can about what life was like during the period you’re writing about. Read as much as you can, visit stately homes, find out about fashions, food and customs. Check any facts with at least three different sources.
4. Get to know your characters as well as you can. (You need to know them better than some members of your own family!) Create biographies for each of them and find magazine pictures or photographs that look like them. As you go through your day, visualise them in a variety of situations – e.g. getting out of bed, getting dressed, eating something.
5. Make sure there is enough action in your story. What does your main character most want? What is stopping them from getting it? Don’t allow problems to be solved too easily.
6. Where is your story set? Don’t forget to allow the seasons to change. Use weather as a means of causing additional problems for your characters – e.g. a flooded river or a snowstorm.
7. What do your characters sound like? If they speak with a particular dialect, give a flavour of this. It can be tedious to read if written too exactly!
8. Use the senses as much as you can! Colours, sounds, smells and textures all help to bring a story to life – and to give your reader a full picture.
9. Set a date for completion of your first draft. Keep going no matter how bad you feel the writing is. As Australian novelist Kate Grenville says: “It can all be fixed later.” You cannot edit a blank page!
10. Reward yourself for the effort you put in.
I hope you all find this useful, I know I do. Anybody got any questions/comments?
Keep Writing and Good Luck!