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authors tips
Steve Mosby
"The main advice for all writers – aspiring or established – is to si..." More

Tip From Elizabeth Day

 Don’t be put off writing a novel by the thought that the plot has to be mapped out with Byzantine complexity several months in advance and feature a vast cast of characters. I started writing without a clear idea of where I was going and the key for me was to find the characters’ voices, then allow the plot to fall into place.

Don’t panic too much about starting at the beginning. Writers can stare at a blank screen for hours waiting for that inspired first sentence to strike but I ended up writing the whole manuscript, then going back to change the first chapter. I had a much surer notion of what it was I wanted to say and who my characters were. It might sound counter-intuitive, but when you know the ending, the beginning comes much more easily.

Remember that some of the best stories are the most simple. Some of my favourite authors examine everyday situations but do it with such depth and nuance that it makes the reader look differently at the shape of things around them. This kind of novel can be just as gripping to read as a sweaty-palmed thriller with dozens of sub-plots.

Realise that much as you might want to write like the novelists you most admire, you will only ever write like yourself. But this is a wonderful thing. No-one else has your particular take on the world, your unique way of seeing things. I used to read brilliant novels and be disheartened that I would never write anything as good. Don’t compare yourself: what you write is different, neither better nor worse.

Finally, take some time to think. Hours spent in cafes or chatting to friends are never wasted. You need to allow ideas to slot subconsciously into place and to give yourself time to relax away from your computer. Don’t feel guilty about this. Writing can be a solitary activity but, in the end, you can’t hope to write convincingly about other people unless you spend time around them.

Published by Bloomsbury, an extract to the author’s own opening chapters can be viewed below.  View Scissors, Paper, Stone on Amazon

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