To accept the need to rewrite, rewrite and rewrite no matter how long it takes. It’s tough sometimes to accept the need to rewrite a novel. But I’ve never regretted editing and inevitably my work is stronger for it. I’ve been told I’m very good at getting into my characters’ heads.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Read widely and include non-fiction if you write fiction as factual accounts can spark off interesting ideas to help you flesh out your made up worlds. Be professional with spelling, grammar, how you present your work, following competition and/or submission instructions. Be ready for criticism, fair or otherwise. Always be prepared to take a critical look at your own work after giving it a period of “resting”. You then re-read your work with a fresh eye and it is easier to spot weaknesses in story structure, plot, and characters and so on then. Above all, enjoy the whole writing process from thinking of the initial idea to what seems like the umpteenth rewrite. You need to love it to be able to do it and stick with it – as the actress said to the bishop!
What aspect of writing don’t you like?
I always feel a sense of relief when I get the first draft written as I’ve then got something to work with and knock into shape. I’m also relieved to finish a piece of work and then get it out there as that’s what I’m meant to be achieving. I don’t like writing being downgraded or libraries being shut as there will be negative consequences. I love the feeling when the story, the characters and everything is working together to drive a strong plot. I hate badly produced books, vanity publishing and those trying to scam authors. Whilst I’m not totally against Amazon and supermarkets selling books, I don’t want either to destroy bookshops and, ultimately, the publishing industry. I want proper bookshops to survive (and yes I do buy from proper bookshops and Amazon – the great thing with the former is they do pay their taxes in the UK!).
What is your favourite thing to write?
I love writing dialogue regardless of whether I’m writing a script, novel or short story. Dialogue is a wonderful way to move the plot along too and to show aspects of a character’s life (how educated they are for a start, do they use proper grammar when speaking?). I also love reading well-crafted dialogue because it flows, you can hear the character behind it and it brings the story to life.
Do you have a specific writing time?
I tend to write in the evenings and weekends. On the odd days when I’ve a little more time, I will find a piece of work and get on with that. I think it helpful to have a specific time to write on the grounds you’re training your brain to get used to being in full writer mode. It also helps you be more organized and to hopefully help others treat your writing seriously. In putting time aside for writing, you’re taking your writing seriously. You can’t expect anyone else to do so if you won’t.
What writing conferences do you go to?
My main one is the Winchester Writers’ Conference, my “local”. I find the lectures interesting, there’s always some fascinating read to pick up at the Book fair, I meet writers and sometimes when I contribute I get feedback, including some praise, on my work. That latter feedback and praise goes a long way when most of the time you’re on your own. I was thrilled to be Commended in their Short Story Competition in 2011. I hope to repeat the feat!
Do you find how-to-write books helpful?
Yes, though some are more helpful than others. Stephen King’s On Writing is invaluable. I also love writing books where published writers are talking about their experiences. I’m currently reading The Writers’ Ideas Book which seems to be full of writing prompts which I hope I will find helpful. I’m also reading Creative Writing by Graeme Harper, another book of interviews but I do find insights from other writers inspiring. I love the author interview pages in Writing Magazine too.