Tips on writing your novel or article

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Tips on writing your novel or article

They say there is a book in each one of us waiting to be written. If that is true it is probably easier for some people than others to turn that into a published book. The first decision to take is about what to write.

Tip 1: Write about what you know

Not everyone can write thrillers and be as successful as the likes of John Grisham, Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlam, and Clive Cussler, to name but a few. I am sure that there are many people who yearn to write bestsellers like J. K. Rowling or Jackie Collins have done, are convinced that they can do the same and that TV and movie producers will clamour for the rights to their books. The competition for a would-be writer is stronger than ever before:

Previously writers needed publishers to print and market their books to the masses, which acted as a filter to discourage publication of the worst quality books. However, with the trend towards self-publishing adding to the already intense competition, writers must find something unique to write about to catch attention. That unique thing can be themselves. I am not suggesting that everyone writes their own autobiography. Indeed, some would be rather dull as not everyone is blessed with an interesting life.

Consider writing about a personal experience. For instance, have you undertaken a long and interesting walking holiday? The American writer Bill Bryson has, as recounted in his wonderful book A Walk in the Woods that follows his walk along the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine along the east coast of the United States.

Have you or a close one suffered a terrible accident or illness and have fought back through adversity? A book may be a good way to provide self-healing and closure, and perhaps campaign for changes in the law to help similar victims or to increase public awareness of an illness.

Tip 2: Decide on your style

In a previous blog, I introduced a few pitfalls in a previous blog on writing pitfalls and I will not cover the same territory again, but a simple summary would be as follows: keep it simple and fresh, do not go overboard trying to impress the reader with your language skills.

Mark Twain hits the nail on the head when talking about adjectives:

“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English – it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.” (Letter to D. W. Bowser, 20 March 1880)

He also says elsewhere:

“The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”

He urges writers to be more brief, clear, and concise when writing. One well-written and concise paragraph can achieve more than several paragraphs of verbosity.

Tip 3: Review your writing

Come back to what you have written another day when your mind is fresh. Proofreading it will doubtless uncover some mistakes you missed before. Do not be afraid to revise, condense, expand, and tweak your writing until it is the best you can make it.