Nikki Sheehan, author of Who Framed Klaris Cliff, gives us her writing rules...
"Thank you so much to everyone who entered the competition. I loved reading all your work, but I’d like to give a special mention to The Cosh by Samantha Clark, The Gun in my Bag by erin-the-strange, and Scream if You Want to go Faster by Bookworm皿.
However, a winner had to be chosen, so huge congratulations to Nina for her entry, The Swinging Lullaby. It’s a sensitive, mature and intriguing piece of writing, and, even on a third reading, it gave me shivers at the end. That is quite an accomplishment, Nina, and you are a very deserving winner.
I was really heartened to see how many people entered the competition, and the feedback and support that the members of Movellas give to each other. It reminds me of the writing group that I belong to. We meet once a month and, as well as enjoying hearing their stories, I find it very useful to have a second opinion on my work.
But in the end the person whose judgement matters the most is my own. So here are a few tips that I have picked up on my journey so far that help me to make my work the best it can be.
1. Don’t follow trends
You might think you’ll get rich writing a vampire/witch/beautiful teens dying of cancer story, but it won’t work if you’re not being true to yourself and writing the kind of book that you’d like to read.
2. If you happen to be into stories about teenage vampire/witches dying of cancer don’t be put off
There’s always room for another really great book, but think about how you can make yours stand out.
3. Writing the first draft can seem like the hardest part, but don’t underestimate the editing
Try to leave a few weeks between each edit, and when you think it’s absolutely perfect read it again, but this time do it aloud. You may sound a bit mad, but believe me, it will be worth it, particularly when it comes to realistic dialogue. Don’t forget that every successful book has been edited many many times before anyone in the industry has seen it, and if you send it off too soon you may waste your only opportunity to impress an agent.
4. Love what you do
Yes, writing is hard work, but it should also be enjoyable. If you’re feeling down about your writing, don’t give up! Step back and try to find out what’s wrong. Maybe you need to adjust your plot, write a plot if you don’t have one, or even throw your plot out of the window and follow your intuition. Maybe you need to write the ending first or kill off a character. Or maybe you need to put it aside for a few weeks and write something else. There are no rules, so just do what it takes until you find the love again."