Advice from Authors

Alan Gibbons

My writing tips...

First things first, you learn to write by reading. Immerse yourself in quality fiction. Instantly, you are absorbing the key skills almost by osmosis: tension, metaphor, simile, description and dialogue. To most people who want to write, this is like teaching your granny to suck eggs. Why would you want to write if you're not an avid reader anyway!

Scribble down bits of writing that appeal to you. Work out how the writer does it. Is it syntax, the order in which the words are organized? Is it the musicality of the rhythms? Is it the nature of the vocabulary? Once you have worked out what makes it good writing, try to incorporate some of those tricks into your own.

Next, and very important, don't trust 'experts', especially me! You might be told to write about what you know. Really? So you think J.K.Rowling swoops round Tesco on a broomstick, I suppose! What really matters is emotional truth. Whether you are writing something familiar, a story set in your own neighbourhood, or a fantasy story in the Kingdom of the Golden Rivers, your characters have to be real, living human beings, not cardboard cut-outs.

Get a response from your reader. Make them jump by having your character glimpse a silhouetted figure behind them in a mirror. Make them squirm by having them experience the world's most toe-curling date. Just make them feel, for goodness' sake!

Most of all, be passionate. Fiction is about empathy, making your reader see through somebody else's eyes. Nobody writes a good story by being half-hearted. Give your all. Your readers deserve no less.

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