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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.

Music tells me stories - The Undercover Soundtrack

Some authors need silence to write; a blank space so their thoughts can be heard. And some of us need an ocean of music.

I’m one of those.

Music enslaves me. It always has. Even a crackle from a stranger’s earbuds will insist on my attention. In cafes that play music, I’m a zombie.

So it probably seems an odd facilitator for writing. But it’s this domineering quality that I find so helpful.

When I’m working on a novel, I drown in possibilities. Music helps me sort them out, holds them still so I can examine what the characters might feel and do. And so each novel I write has an undercover soundtrack.

An undercover soundtrack is not the music that the characters might like, or the songs that have meaning for them. It’s the pieces that became special to me as I wrote.

Creating a place

I first began making undercover soundtracks when I was ghostwriting novels. Many had exotic settings, and music helped conjure the mood. Trilok Gurtu was a …

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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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