Sign up to the newsletter

Writing Advice

In this section, you will find a collection of blogs dedicated to writing advice. So, if your manuscript is starting to drive you crazy, or you’re not sure how to get started, read on for the push you need to create your masterpiece.

4 Tips For Revisiting Your Last Draft

Editing Days

Are you at the stage of writing when you're ready to revisit your manuscript? If you've got a first draft - but have put it away for a few weeks, even a month - to give yourself the head space you need, well done! You might not even need to read on as it sounds like you know what you're doing.

But if you're a sucker for writing-related tips, you've come to the right place.  

We've compiled four tips to help with the editing stage of your story. 

1. Make and keep copies of your drafts

This one isn't for everyone - Jeanette Winterson professes to deleting files and burning papers of manuscript that she's worked on and felt just didn't work.

But if you're not one for creative, dramatic flair, then it might be a good idea to hold onto previous drafts. However you work - whether that's on Google Drive, Word Doc etc., create a folder for your WIP and keep all the different iterations of your story in one place. 

If not only to see how your story has developed, but also to read …

Read more | 2 comments

5 Things Writers Can Do During The Submission Stage

Writers aren’t supposed to talk about the submission stage - the anxious time when agents send projects to hand-picked commissioning editors - but I think it would be useful to include here some of my experiences and some tips for what writers can do to prepare.

Writers’ journeys to publication rarely end in a 12-auction fairytale, no matter how often you scan The Bookseller headlines. I’ve learned that when a commissioning editor loves your writing, he or she usually must convince colleagues in Sales, Marketing, PR and Publicity and go through their in-house acquisition process. There are no guarantees except the prospect of a long wait, because like any other workplace, key people are away, offspring become sick and meetings are rescheduled. Just like the agents-querying stage, it demands resilience and the ability to focus on what really matters: your writing.

In the few weeks since my agent submitted my novel to a small number of publishers, we have received warm expressions …

Read more | 1 comments

Taking Stock After Shortlisting Success

Since signing with a literary agency a few weeks ago, my novel seems to have developed a momentum of its own. It’s been shortlisted in the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Award and after giving me editorial notes and the opportunity to ‘cut and dig deeper,’ my agents now feel that it is ready to submit to publishers. I know that ready does not mean the same as finished; there will be many more revisions to come and an exciting part of that will be hearing how different readers respond. I feel lightheaded at the prospect, but it is also a moment to take stock.

Soon after the shortlisting announcement, I spoke to the mother of a boy I used to teach. I asked formally for her permission to dedicate my novel to her wonderful son, Mahad, who was brutally murdered in 2017. It was a painful conversation and very different to the ones we’d had years ago. She and I spoke almost daily in the playground when Mahad was ten years old, at the beginning and end of each school day during my teaching …

Read more | 0 comments

5 Writing Tips for 2019

12 months in as an aspiring authoress I look back to the first tender weeks of my authorship journey – and give myself a little condescending tap on the head.

I think it’s sweet that I had intended on not only submitting a fully polished novel to competitions and awards, but that I would have found an agent and be well on the way to securing a publishing deal… in one year.

So how did the authoress get on? Where in the process is she now? Let’s skip forward to January 2019… 

I'm on chapter two.

Now let’s get a few things straight – this isn’t because I didn’t do the work, or I was lazy or gave up, far from it. I worked tirelessly, dedicating hours and hours to research, writing, reading, courses…

The past year has taught me a tremendous amount. Not least, the reason I got 15,000 words in to my children’s novel and SCRAPPED it all.

When I set myself a goal, I approach it with dogged focus and determination. I work strictly to a rule book that I create …

Read more | 4 comments

Literary Lessons: Art Matters

Rachel Knightley

From Art Matters by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Chris Riddell.

The best writing advice will always be the writing advice that inspires you to get on with the writing. Inspires, not instructs: no there is no great secret, yes it’s hard work and practise makes improvement. My favourite writing guide and favourite memoir, Stephen King’s On Writing, reminds us Dumbo made it into the air because of the magic feather clutched in his trunk, even though the magic was in him all the time. Writing courses and writing retreats and writing buddies and writing manuals are all great feathers. They can get us up there faster. But the magic is always in the elephant, not the feather. 

I have a new feather. It’s Art Matters, a stocking-filler-sized illustrated philosophy of life, art and freelancing. It sits beside my laptop on my windowsill “desk” in the living room. It’s made of three texts by Neil Gaiman – Credo (2015), Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming

Read more | 1 comments