Tips for Writers

Looking for help, advice and tips to improve your writing?
Here's a selection of my latest tips:


Ensure you have a killer one-liner
Formulating your one-liner is crucial, and not just as a tool to sell your novel to an agent or editor, but also to assess whether your book has both focus and a hook that will grab readers. Can you sum up your novel in twenty words? And is this line interesting/intriguing?

Show, don't tell
Show the reader the scene, don’t tell them what to think. For example, use ‘His forehead creased in a frown.’ and not ‘He looked worried.’

Know your characters
If you're worried that your main characters need work, put together a character questionnaire for each one. This shouldn't only contain details of their appearance and their main personality traits, but also their family/school history, worst fears, ambitions, neuroses, etc. You need to know your main characters inside and out if you are to have any chance of conveying them with depth to the reader.

A plot driver is essential
Do you have a plot driver that pushes your main character through the story? This can be in the form of a problem or a goal, and it can change as the plot develops, but it must be ever present in order to keep the reader turning the page. Without a strong, relatable plot driver, it can become very difficult to keep a reader engaged.

Kill your darlings
To maintain a reader's attention, every scene should move the plot forward. If it doesn't, cut it – now is not the time to be self-indulgent. The same applies to characters – if they are not influencing the plot but just along for the ride, then I'm afraid they shouldn't be there at all!

Make life difficult
To provide an interesting story, life needs to be difficult for your protagonist. If their life is too easy, the reader won't care. Problems (often the bigger the better!) are essential in order to create tension and conflicts – as this is what will fuel your plot.

Links to useful articles and blogs

When should a writer pay for editorial guidance?
Sara O'Connor's article for SCBWI's Words and Pictures on when – and when not – to pay for writing advice.

Publishing for Humans
Lizzy Kremer's informative, insightful and entertaining blog about life as an agent.

Nicola Morgan's advice for writers
Nicola's books contain a wealth of no-nonsense advice for writers – from how to get published to writing synopses and tweeting.

Slushpile Hell
Want to know what not to say when submitting to agents – and have a chuckle at the same time? This is probably the blog that makes me smile (and often LOL) the most.