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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.

Francesca Brill on Being a Writer

To celebrate this week’s launch of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2014, are giving you a sneak-peek of what you can expect from this year’s edition of the indispensable guide to all areas of publishing and the media.

In our penultimate post, we take an excerpt from Francesca Brill's article 'Being a Writer'.  Here, the screenwriter and novelist discusses the importance of writers finding their personal writing space:

‘Personally, I need to be in a sensory deprivation zone before I can get any work done so, sadly, neither the steamy social cafe of J.K. Rowling fame, nor Fay Weldon's carved-out space on the kitchen table, nor even the erotic hush of the library are any good for me.  I'm more in the Jonathan Franzen/Zadie Smith mould.  Even the internet is a distraction too far, though I haven't gone as far as welding closed my internet access on the computer or buying the software that keeps it at bay for a certain number of …

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Notes From A Successful Crossover Author

To celebrate next week’s launch of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2014, are giving you a sneak-peek of what you can expect from this year’s edition of the indispensable guide to all areas of publishing and the media.

In this post, Neil Gaiman explains how he learned to “stop worrying” in order to become a successful crossover author.

Authors who write crossover fiction often find it more difficult to get their work published. 

Traditionally, crossover books tend to be harder for publishers to market and harder for bookshops to sell. But, following the success of writers such as Gaiman, J K Rowling and Philip Pullman, crossover fiction has never had a more captive audience.

So, if you’re harbouring ambitions of writing a book that’s loved by readers of fantasy and romance alike (for example), read on! 

‘You can do your best to write a book for children that adults will like (or the other way around…): you can try not to mess up the …

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Notes From A Successful Author Of Erotic Fiction

To celebrate next week’s launch of WAYB14, are giving you a sneak-peek of what you can expect from this year’s edition of the Yearbook – the indispensable guide to all areas of publishing and the media.

The focus of this article? Writing erotic fiction…

Erotic fiction has recently experienced something of a renaissance. You can’t walk into a WH Smiths without spying at least five book covers featuring images of high heels and perfectly sculpted bare torsos.  

However, marketing sex is much easier than writing sex. This remains a delicate skill and, whether you’re aiming for Anaïs Nin or Fifty Shades, it takes dedication, hard work and practice, just like every other genre of writing. 

Taken from this year’s edition of the Yearbook, let’s see what a bestselling erotic fiction writer (who wishes to remain anonymous) has to say: 

“As writers, our desire is always to touch our readers, but as erotica writers, our aim is to go …

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Sympathetic protagonist: Blue Pencil #30

An author came to me the other day, asking for a critique on her rom-com. Sometimes the faults quickly jump out from a manuscript. The problem with this one was obvious: ‘Your lovers are too nice.’

I told her to muddy them up a bit, have them doing the odd mean thing. Sleeping with their best friend’s boyfriend, that kind of stuff. ‘But surely no-one will like them if I do that?’

Nice is boring, I’m afraid. When people talk about a ‘sympathetic character’, what they should say is ‘empathetic character’. Look at the chap in ‘One Day’ – what an idiot (but we’re gripped until he finds redemption). And Scarlett O’Hara is one selfish bitch – but we love her courage. In Trainspotting some characters are perfectly vile, but we enjoy the way they make us laugh. Give us something ‘nice’ and we’ll go to sleep.

 Your character needs to make a journey, and a ‘nice’ protagonist won’t be able to move satisfyingly towards that position of …

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Bad Grammar - Why You Should Care

Tonight sees the first Annual Bad Grammar Awards, set up by Idler Magazine to highlight ‘the misuse of grammar in modern society’.

Authors tend to fall into two camps.  At one extreme are the grammatical pedants, picking up every error and sticking to all the rules.  At the other end are the more ‘relaxed’ types, who reason that if ignoring grammar was good enough for Joyce, it’s good enough for them too.

If you’re under 50, the chances are that you’ve not been taught any grammar at school, unless you learnt a foreign language, so you may have some dim idea of what is correct, but have no clue about the in-depth details.  So does it matter?

By this point you may be wondering why I’ve chosen to illustrate this post with a picture of some very badly painted bookshelves.  Well I’m a bit impatient when it comes to doing DIY and ignored the advice to prime or prepare them.  I was about four bad-tempered coats in by the time …

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