- First, fall in love with your characters. I think this is why fanfic is so popular - you can’t get enough of the story or the person you’re writing about. But if you make up your own characters they can be even more amazing.
- But don’t make them perfect. A story about someone with no flaws can be boring and unbelievable. Give them room to grow.
- Some people love to plan a story - beginning, middle, end, just like they teach you in school. Lots of writers don’t plan though. Start with your characters, throw problems at them, see what happens. It can be more exciting that way.
- Try and write something every day, even if it’s just a few sentences. Leave your writing at an exciting point of the story, so you’ll be desperate to get back to it.
- If you get bored with your story then skip ahead and make something happen – let your characters kiss, fight or set the house on fire (accidental arson happens more than once in my books).
- You don’t have to know every twist in the plot, but it is helpful to know what your story is about. Try writing a few sentences at the beginning explaining why this story is worth reading. For Salvage I wrote something like ‘This is a story about families, all the ways in which they can hurt and help you.’ And then I deleted it.
- You can get ideas for your stories from newspapers, television, magazines, listening to people talking on the bus. Just watch out for those moments when you think, ‘I wonder how that would feel..’
- I always seem to end up writing a first person narrative, other people prefer the third person. To work out what’s best for you, try writing the story of Cinderella in different forms - first person, present tense, traditional fairy tale, even rhyming couplets. What works best for you?
- Know your characters really well. Then you can pick metaphors and similes which reflect their lives and tastes, not yours.
- It is absolutely fine to start sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but’. You are writing a story, not an essay.
So which of those tips speaks to you? And what would be your top tip?