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Hayley Nolan Writers’ Tips

Hayley NolanHayley Nolan is the writer/producer and presenter of hit iTunes podcast series The History Review and its spin-off vlog series, which has gained more than one million views in its first 5 months. She is a graduate of London’s prestigious Royal Court Young Writer’s Programme, has trained in screenwriting at RADA and creative writing at Cambridge University, and has trained in screenwriting at RADA. An Anne Boleyn expert, her research has seen her working with the French and UK governments, partnering with some of the UK’s most respected historical organisations, and has garnered her the support of respected historians. ‘Anne Bolyeyn – 500 Years of Lies’ is her latest book.

Today, Hayley offers advice to budding writers.

There is so much that goes into getting a book published these days from whether there will be demand for it, how is your book different from others in the genre, could an agent sell it to publishers, will all departments of the publishing house see your book as a viable investment in the infamous ‘acquisition’ meetings? Frustratingly all this comes into play, and there are plenty of things you can do as an author to make sure the book you are pitching will appeal…HOWEVER when it comes down to it, it’s all about the writing. You can have an amazing concept but if the writing doesn’t live up to expectations then it won’t happen. So this needs to be your focus and priority. With writing it’s all about honesty…and editing!

Read more about Hayley and her writing journey

My Top 10 Writing Tips By Elizabeth Brooks

Elizabeth BrooksOn the book tour for Elizabeth Brooks’ new book called ‘The Whispering House’, Elizabeth shares her top 10 tips for aspiring authors.

When it comes to writing novels, I’m not a great believer in rules. As soon as I think I’ve come up with a hard and fast Law of Writing, which must never, ever be broken, I’ll come across a brilliant author who breaks it: “Cut down on adjectives!” But Dickens uses adjectives like there’s no tomorrow. “Show don’t tell!” But where does that leave ‘Dulse’, by Alice Munro which opens with a deft resumé of the main character’s life so far? “Stick to one character’s point of view!” “Make it clear whose story you’re telling!” “Make sure your character has a good reason to do what he does!” But Chekhov violates all of those and more…

So I’m offering tips, not rules. They’ve helped me over the years, and I hope they’ll help you too.

Fill the page with something. Anything. Write the National Anthem backwards if nothing more useful occurs – at least you will have broken The Curse of the Blank Page. Now you’re free to splurge your novelistic thoughts.

Be precise. I used to think being a good writer meant constructing elaborate sentences out of unusual words. It’s not. It’s about being attentive to life, and finding the right words to describe your observations.

Let your characters do their thing. The best novels are messy, questioning, and open-ended. Tolstoy intended ‘Anna Karenina’ as a morality tale, warning against the evils of adultery, until he went and brought Anna alive with his words. The result? A poor morality tale, but a very great novel.

Think about viewpoint. I apologise if this is self-evident, but it came as a total revelation to me, several years ago. There I was, merrily hopping in and out of my characters’ heads, wondering why their story lacked coherence, when my agent said, “Have you thought about writing from just one person’s point of view?” … Eureka!

Don’t worry about being original. In fact, don’t give it a thought. Originality is just you, writing at your authentic best, about what interests you most deeply.

Show don’t tell.This one eluded me for years, because I didn’t know what it meant and was too embarrassed to ask. It just means that “Joe feels angry” is a weaker description than “Joe yells and throws her tea at the wall.” The first washes over me, the second pulls me in.

Keep an eye on the bigger picture. Crafting a good sentence, word by word, clause by clause, is a difficult thing to do. Structuring a whole novel – making scenes and characters that fit together, move along, maintain balance and resonate – is also difficult. Doing both at the same time is not impossible, although every now and it might make you clutch your head and emit a silent, Munchian scream into the void.

Write because you want to write and not because you want to be a Published Author. If you’re writing for the sheer love of it, you’ll end up with something good.

Be disciplined. Exercise your writing muscles regularly, even when it feels like a thankless slog. That Thomas Edison quote about genius being 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, is true.

Read and read and read. The more you read, the better you’ll write. This might sound like a statement of the blindingly obvious, but I once met an author at a literary festival who claimed he was ‘not mad on reading’, and it scarred me for life. How can someone claim to be a writer and not a reader? How? It’s like saying ‘I’m not mad on food, but I’m keen to be a chef’.

I began this post in an easy-going frame of mind (“Hey, who needs rules?”) but it didn’t last. I thought it might not. Sorry. Listing tips is such an enjoyably bossy thing to do.
Please feel free to take everything with a pinch of salt, except for number 10.

You can buy ‘The Whispering House’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Bella Osborne Writer’s Tip

Bella Osborne

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. In 2016, her debut novel,’It Started At Sunset Cottage’, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award. Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Her novels are often serialised in four parts ahead of the full book publication. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

Today Bella is sharing her writing tips for aspiring authors.

I think specifics will be personal to each writer but I believe all writers can benefit by surrounding themselves with like minded people. Only other writers know what it’s like and they are an incredibly supportive bunch. So my advice is to look up organisations for your genre and local groups and seek out your tribe..

Read more about Bella and her writing journey

Haylen Beck Writers Tip

Haylen Beck

Haylen Beck is the pseudonym of Northern Ireland writer Stuart Neville, an acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author whose crime fiction has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and made best-of-year lists with numerous publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.

Today Haylen shares his writing tips for aspiring authors.

Simply writing more. A common mistake writers make is finishing one novel, then flogging it to death instead of getting on with writing the next one. Really, the only way to learn to write is simply to write..

Read more about Haylen and his writing journey

Jake Woodhouse Writers Tip

The CopycatJake Woodhouse is the Sunday Times bestselling author of ‘After the Silence’, ‘Into the Night’, ‘Before the Dawn’ and ‘The Copycat’ is the fourth book in the ‘Amsterdam Quartet with Inspector Jaap Rykel’series.

Today Jake shares his writing tips for aspiring authors.

There’s an oft-quoted but of advice which is something along the lines of, write what you know. This is terrible advice. Write about what you don’t know, and learn something in process.

Read more about Jake and his writing journey