Friday, 6 April 2012

Eight Top Writing Tips from the authors at The Edge

During school visits we are often asked to give advice to aspiring young writers. With that in mind, each Edge author has agreed to supply one nugget of writing wisdom from their personal bag of tricks.

You may notice that some of the suggestions contradict each other! That's OK – all writers work in different ways. Try them out and see what works for you. We hope you find them useful.

We'd love to hear your writing tips too, so please leave us a comment below.

Sara Grant
author of Dark Parties
"Never give up! I always wanted to be a writer but never thought I could because my spelling was appalling. My creative writing assignments were returned covered in red ink. (This was in the time long ago before personal computers and spell check.) But I kept writing and reading and learning. If you want to get published, your way will be paved with rejection. JK Rowling was rejected something like 20 times before she found the right publisher. Some really amazing writers give up too soon. Getting published takes practice, patience, persistence – and a little luck. If you want to be a published writer, my best advice is never, ever give up!" 

Miriam Halahmy
author of Hidden and Illegal
"Read until your eyes ache. I wanted to become a writer as soon as I could read. I wanted to create my own stories and reading was one of the most important things in my life. But to find out how to become a writer you need to read as widely as possible. If you want to write paranormal romance, read political fiction; if you want to write thrillers, read chick lit. To find your voice as a writer you need to read across every genre and every style. While you are reading you have already embarked upon your career as a writer."

Keren David
author of When I Was Joe,
Almost True and Lia's
Guide to Winning the Lottery
"Take time to daydream. Switch off the television, the computer, the phone, the X Box. Spend time in your own head, thinking about the characters you've created. It's the best way to let a story grow." 

Bryony Pearce
author of Angel's Fury
"Read everything, read like mad, read stuff you know you like and stuff you think you might not like, look at history books, autobiographies, biographies as well as fiction - they're great sources of inspiration and show you another way of writing.
Then, when you want to start writing ... stop reading. Take a break from other people's work and give your own ideas a chance to properly percolate. 
Don't compare yourself to other writers. Just get plotting, get writing and see how far you get."

Paula Rawsthorne
author of The Truth
About Celia Frost
"My advice is to enter reputable writing competitions! Look for them on the internet, in teen magazines; ask your school librarian, look on the BBC website. It could be a competition to write a poem, a piece of flash fiction, a short story, the opener of a novel- whatever it is will provide a great motivator to get you writing! Competitions usually give you a theme, a word count and a deadline. All these elements help kick-start your work. It's great to know that just by entering, your work will be read by people who know what they are on about. When I'd just started writing, I entered a BBC short story competition and won – this gave my 'writing confidence' a tremendous boost and spurred me on to keep writing; entering competitions could do the same for you."

Savita Kalhan
author of The Long Weekend
"If you're stuck for ideas about what to write - write about what makes you angry, or happy, or sad, or fearful, or excited, or moves you in some other way, and then read it back to yourself, or even read it aloud and record it and listen to it. If you find it moving it means you are in sync with your character's feelings, and the chances are other readers will be engaged with the story too." 

Dave Cousins
author of
15 Days Without a Head
"Think with your hands! Work out your story by writing. You can sit for hours chewing the end of a pen trying to plan the perfect opening or work out what happens next. If you simply start writing, solutions will often present themselves on the page. 
Re-drafting Rules! Don’t worry too much on your first draft. Give you story space to emerge. Have some fun, try things out, allow your characters to misbehave! In the next draft, you can decide what works and then start to craft the structure and the words." 

Katie Dale
author of
Someone Else's Life
"I agree - read read read as much as you can, and enter writing competitions - the feedback and confidence boost can be invaluable, plus mentioning a competition win or commendation in a covering letter can really open doors. Five of the eight Edge authors were chosen as winners of the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices competition, which provided a huge boost to our careers. Plus, I recommend trying to write in a range of different genres and styles. When I was first starting out I was asked to write a short story for the How To Be A Boy anthology, and I freaked out "How can I write as a boy? I've never been a boy!" But actually it was incredibly liberating, great fun, and really expanded my imagination. So if you usually find yourself writing paranormal romance with a girl narrator, try writing a dystopian adventure with a boy narrator, or historical fiction from the POV of a dog! It might seem daunting at first, but give it a try - you never know where it'll take you!"

We'd love to hear your writing tips too, so please leave us a comment below.

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