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authors tips
Carolyn Jess Cooke
"Believe in Yourself.  There is a quote by the historian Jacques Barzun that..." More

Tip From Stephen Kelman

The process of writing a novel is an intensely personal one that, if it’s going to be in any way rewarding, requires an intensely personal connection to the story you’re trying to write. At least that’s my view. If you can’t empathise with your characters or their lives as you create them, you’re never going to make the decisions on their behalf which will lead to an authentic, distinctive piece of fiction. So write about what interests you, what you feel strongly about. I’m also of the belief that it’s what you leave out of your book, more than what you keep in, that determines its success. My agent, Jo Unwin at Conville and Walsh, gave me a very valuable piece of advice early on: “Use it or lose it.” Be ruthless; if it’s not important to the plot or the character, remove it. Writing shouldn’t be an exercise in proving to the reader how many words you know or how thorough a researcher you are. Unless you’re writing an autobiography, the story isn’t about you, it’s about the people you’ve created, and your first obligation is to be true to them. Plus, I’ve found that it helps to know how your story ends before you begin it. That wasn’t a conscious decision on my part, just the way it’s naturally happened and it seems to work for me.

Published by Bloomsbury, an extract to the author’s own opening chapters from his novel Pigeon English can be viewed below. View Pigeon English on Amazon



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