Improve Your First Draft

11th August 2021
3 min read
2nd September 2021

A collection of free advice articles from acclaimed author, William Ryan, on the process of editing and improving the structure of your manuscript after completing a first draft.

William Ryan

Ahead of his final run of Fiction Writing: Fundamentals and Fiction Writing: Advanced online courses for Writers & Artists in 2021, we've pulled together five stellar advice articles from William Ryan covering essential elements of the process of re-working sections of your manuscript.

For booking and further information about Fiction Writing: Fundamentals (beginning 6th September) or Fiction Writing: Advanced (beginning 1st November) click here. 


Five Ways to Improve a First Draft

"The first questions I ask are nearly always about the plot. I want to make sure my novel works as a story and, ideally, a story that’s worth reading [...] It sounds a bit wishy washy, but a good story is nearly always fundamental to writing good fiction." Read here

The Purpose of Your Story?

"Scenes can fulfil many different functions in a novel but knowing the narrative essence of the scene – the reason why it has to be in the novel – will probably tell you a lot about how the scene has to be written, what has to be in it and what you can leave out." Read here

Creating Your Dramatic World

"Once you have established the codes and ways of behaving that apply to a dramatic world, think about whether everyone should be complying with them." Read here

Your Central Character

"Just as the central character is at the heart of the novel’s story, they are also fundamental to its success; if they aren’t a successful creation then that will have an effect on the reader’s engagement with the novel." Read here

How To Write a Good Synopsis

"The primary purpose of a synopsis is relatively simple - to give the agent or publisher an overview of your novel’s plot and reassure them that it has a beginning, a middle and an end, and a story that is clear, engaging and commercial." Read here


W&A Guide to How to Write by William RyanWilliam Ryan has written four historical novels which have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, the HWA Gold Crown for Historical Fiction, the Crime Writers Association’s Steel, Historical and New Blood Daggers and the Irish Crime Novel of the Year (three times). William teaches creative writing at City University in London and has previously taught at the University of East Anglia. His latest novel, A House of Ghosts, was published in 2019 by Bonnier Zaffre. The Writers' & Artists' Guide to How to Write is published by Bloomsbury and available now.


Writing stage


Pssst! Log in or create (it's free!) a W&A account before the end of August and head to the dashboard area to find a code offering a 10% discount on Fiction Writing: Fundamentals. Once it's gone it's gone, though...!

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