Some people may like to write for themselves because it’s a nice thing to do. I wanted to write for publication as soon as I knew I had the basic talent. My story is proof that you don’t need contacts in publishing to succeed as a writer of fiction. What you do need is a vivid imagination and the ability to write good prose; the latter can be learnt. I improved simply by doing it.
During the course of my career and before it actually took off, I picked up a few tips which might be useful to anyone who wants to try their hand at becoming an author. These rules work for me; they may not be right for everyone.
- Never wait for inspiration before you write. It isn’t that inspiration doesn’t exist but that it comes with writing. This is the advice given by the late John Braine in his book about writing a novel. I keep this in mind all the time when I am doing a first draft. Even if you only manage a few paragraphs, the ideas will come (maybe later) if you actually write.
- Always write a first draft quickly. If you try to perfect it at this stage you’ll still be on page one in six months time. You can hone and polish later. In a first draft you crack into the story. At the end of a first draft you will have a book but it will need more work. Personally I adore working on it at this stage.
- Decide the genre you are going to aim for and read books of that type to see how published authors do it.
- Always use double spacing for your manuscript and have nice wide margins for your editor to make comments in the happy event of your having something accepted.
- Concentrate on characterisation; making your characters so real they leap off the page. This comes with practice. Also a strong sense of place is important too.
- Find out the number of words required for the type of book you want to write. This may not seem very creative but it is important. A book can be rejected simply because it’s the wrong length.
Happy writing and good luck.