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Get writing

27 March 2017
  • Once you have your idea for a story, write yourself a rough outline.
  • You will need to work out who your characters are, what type of ‘journey' you're taking them on, what's going to kick their story into gear (your opening), and how it's going to end.
  • You might decide you're going to write yourself a detailed chapter by chapter outline, or you might be one of those writers who prefers flying blind. But you'll find you will need some sort of a plan or you might lose yourself along the way.
  • As soon as you have this sorted, start writing, and do not stop! Try to resist the temptation to self-edit until you get to the end. No matter how awful your story feels or how clunky your prose-style, it doesn't matter as you will be the only person who sees it.
  • Above all, remember you're not a ‘proper' author till you have nailed this all-important first draft (a friend of mine who's just finished his first novel said this was the best writing advice anyone has given him).
  • Think about where you feel comfortable writing, and also where you have your best ideas. Some authors work their plots out as they walk or work out. I know one who works in a cafe as she likes to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Another crime-writing friend of mine writes in a little white cell with no windows, no pictures and no distractions of any kind. Work out what works best for you, and stick to it!
  • You'll know you're on the right track when your characters start talking to you. They may even tell you what they want to do, which may not be quite what you intended for them. If this happens, my advice is to listen to them. It means that something interesting is starting to happen ...
  • And finally, if you get stuck, think about changing not what you write but how you write it. I find writing straight on to a screen can be a bit paralysing; it makes me feel shy somehow. As soon as I write in longhand on paper (in my favourite blue pen), I loosen up. In short, don't be afraid to play some mind games with yourself: relax with your chosen medium and try and be a little more experimental. You never know what is going to happen . . .

Above all, good luck with your writing. Have fun. And get started!

Selina Walker Publisher of Century and Arrow at Penguin Random House UKPenguin Random House have more than 50 creative and autonomous imprints, publishing the very best books for all audiences, covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, autobiographies and much more. Click for Random House UK Publishers References listing in the Daily Mail