Hi. Hopefully over time this will become a useful page full of tips for writers, especially those in the early stages of their writing career.
I want to stress that none of these tips are carved in stone or are a suggestion that they are must do things. My basic rule of thumb and my first tip is, what ever works for you is the right thing to do. By all means, take advise from so called experts, magazines, even other authors, but ultimately if what you hear or read is never going to work for you, then it isn’t a good tip.
A good rule of thumb is to write about what you know, but sitting immediately alongside this should be I would suggest, the caveat that it also has to be something which you enjoy and have a genuine interest in. Writing can be a lonely pastime, it is certainly not a team sport that’s for sure, so if you are going to spend so much time on your own, make sure it doesn’t become a chore.
Write every day. It doesn’t matter how much you write or for how long, but get in to the habit of writing everyday, even if its only practising and honing your particular writing style.
Edit your work. This is particularly important when sending your cherished manuscript off to a Literary Agent or a Publisher for consideration. Don’t provide them with the opportunity to discard your work straight in to the nearest rubbish bin because the first couple of pages of what you have given them to read, are riddled with discrepancies.
Read other authors books. Look at how they describe an individual or an incident. Look at how and when they use description and conversation in their story lines. When it comes to novels, or even non-fictional works come to that, each story will have a central narrative and smaller sub plots which will eventually join up on the very last page of the book, usually in a killer sentence which will ultimately define the book.
With non-fictional works research is the main key along with the art of cross referencing being similarly important. Visit museums, archives, libraries, locations. Source documents and photographs as well as speaking with relevant individuals. Researching characters for fictional works is just as important. Knowing the specific language a doctor or a surgeon would use is extremely important to making the character you are writing about, believable.
Being in a position where you have been asked to send your finished manuscript off to an agent or a publisher is the ultimate aim. You will never be in that position if you don’t adhere to what they ask for in their initial submission package.
Most will ask for a covering letter introducing yourself and your work, a synopsis of the book and some sample chapters. If you don’t get the first two elements of this right, the chances are the agent or publisher isn’t even going to bother reading what you have actually sent them. Practice how to write a covering letter and a synopsis that will be eye catching enough to get your work noticed. Examples of both can be found either on the internet or in most writing magazines.
Purchase yourself a copy of the Writers & Artists Yearbook. You will find it invaluable if you are a serious writer who wants to get their work published, whether that be an article in a newspaper, magazine or a world wide best selling novel.
Don’t tie yourself up by having too many tips because all that will ultimately achieve is to stifle your natural writing ability. The list doesn’t have to be exhaustible, just enough to provide you with a determined focus for your writing.