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.

Writing Tips from Sarah Waters

Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award

With the results of the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award due to be announced in December, we're sharing three of bestselling author and past winner Sarah Waters' top writing tips for authors looking to get their work published. 

As a previous recipient of the prize and the writer of Tipping the Velvet and The Paying Guests, amongst others, she explains below what winning the prize did for her.

'When I received the award, in 2000, I had published two novels and was beginning to think about my third. My sales were very modest, my income was uncertain; the first, intense thrill of publication had faded slightly, and I was discovering what a lonely business writing can be. To be named the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year – to know that the judges had read and liked my work, and wanted to reward me for it and encourage me to write more - was a terrific honour, and a huge boost. And the money had a real, significant impact on my writing life. …

Read more | 0 comments

The Magic of Writing

When I sat down to write this blog post, my intention was to write something else – a post about a different subject entirely. I had it all mapped out; scribbled notes, bullet points, the whole caboodle. But then something happened. I accidentally opened an old document on my desktop. At first, I didn’t recognise it. Then I read it. It was something I had completely forgotten I had written. And as soon as I read it once, I wanted to read it again. And I liked it. Enjoyed it, even. And then I couldn’t shake the giddiness and dreaminess I felt afterwards. Because it was grand, the whole discovering-words-you-forgot-you-wrote-and-finding-them-like-a-folded-fiver-in-an-old-pair-of-jeans thing – really bloody grand. And then I couldn’t help but think about all those other delicious moments in writing; the big things, the small things, and the smaller ones. Those little bursts of pleasure, excitement, victory, bliss, fulfilment. The magic. Because it is. Writing is magic. 

Read more | 0 comments

Did You Hear The One About?

All good jokes usually revolve around three people and, for reasons of balance, so should a good book. Not people in the sense of different nationalities or characteristics but in the sense of different facets of the writer.

The transition from creative chaos to coherent complexity demands three aspects of a writer’s persona to be in complete harmony. To illustrate the point I will term these facets The Creator, The Colourist and The Critic.

There is an inherent chaos about the creative process of writing. The flow of a good narrative often takes a more zigzag path than would be acknowledged by those writers who advocate a fixed structure. But this is The Creator at work and the creative process is, for the most part, an absolute joy. When new ideas come to the writer the writing just flows. Frequently it does not fit within the constraints of a rigid plan and nor should it.

But to create a three-dimensional plot the writer must also add depth through …

Read more | 0 comments

Doing My Homework

Sophie Mackenzie

I’ve done it four times now, but the wait while my agent reads my manuscript for the first time has become no less agonising than it was three years ago, when I first received that longed-for “request for full”. I check my emails compulsively. I read and reread my completed novel, spotting typos and literals that make me cringe. And when at last the call comes, the relief that she likes the book is no less giddy than it was the first time.

This time, though, the comment from my agent (the wonderful Peta Nightingale at LAW) that absolutely delighted me came not after she’d read my novel, You Can’t Fall in Love With Your Ex (Can You?), but after she’d read the acknowledgements, which I sent her a week or so before publication. In amongst thanking her, my cover designer, friends, family and cat, I paid tribute to the sources I’d used to help me understand the world of classical ballet, of which I’d had no understanding or experience at all before beginning the novel.

“I …

Read more | 0 comments

Approaching the King of Welsh Noir for writing advice

Nia CampbellIn April, I made a deal with myself - a deal so unlikely of swinging in my favour that I could continue under the blissful pretence of self-motivation without actually doing anything.

I joined Twitter and said, “If Malcolm Pryce (author of Louie Knight Aberystwyth novels and one of my favourite writers) ever follows me, I’ll write and ask him to read the first chapter of my ‘book’”.

Of course, there was no chance whatsoever that this was going to happen, so I knew I was pretty safe. But guess what? He did. Not even two months later, a notification popped up on my phone alerting me to a new Twitter follower: @exogamist. The name rang a bell. I clicked through only to come face to face with the King of Welsh Noir himself.

I use the term ‘book’ in its loosest sense; what I had, in fact, was about eight incomplete chapters about a gangly teenage boy living in the small Welsh town of Port Talbot. Under normal circumstances I would have dismissed my ‘deal’, but the fact …

Read more | 0 comments