How to be a Writer

Ahhh the eternal question. How to be writer! Or, how to be an author, or a poet, or a novelist!

There’s an awful lot of guidance out there (often conflicting) about how to do these things, and to a degree you have to find your own way. No path is the same. You’re unique! But sometimes you do need some advice on the practicalities – how to edit your novel, how to manage a full time job and be a writer, and what the heck is a poetry pamphlet, anyway?

I’m collecting some of my featured blog posts on these subjects here, to offer a little light in the darkness. Keep checking back for the latest post!

How to be a Novelist

How to Plot a Novel | Your First Draft Checklist

Trying to figure out how to plot a novel, and not sure where to start? One thing’s clear – if I didn’t draw up a story outline before drafting, my narratives would fizzle away into nothing. No character arcs. No pacing. No flow. No meaning. Nuffink.

Writing and Editing the Second Draft of Your Novel

Like so many other people who’ve embarked on the novel-writing road, over the last few months I’ve been asking myself the same question repeatedly – how do you start writing the second draft of your novel? Is this classed as editing your novel, or re-writing it?

Writing and Editing the Third Draft of Your Novel

So, you’re writing a novel, eh? Well that’s a humdinger. Quite the doozy you’ve got there. But think about it – by this point you’ve scrawled out your soul during the first draft, you’ve fallen into a brief convalescence-coma, and then you bravely set out to write and edit the second draft of your novel. What next? Writing and editing the third draft of your novel, of course!

How long should you wait between drafts of your novel?

When looking up advice about drafting and redrafting your novel, you’ll frequently see writers and editors suggesting that you wait between clicking the cap on your pen after your first draft and reloading the typewriter for your second draft (yes I live in the 1940s). But how long does this wait have to be?

How Setting Affects a Story

Flipping from the final edits for one novel to the total wilderness of first drafting feels like a massive shift. It’s freeing, but it’s also overwhelming. So I thought I’d write a simple guide to choosing a setting for your story, using my own fiction to demonstrate how pacing, mood, atmosphere, and setting affects a story.

How to build and write convincing characters

Writing a character personality for your story, novel, or script is a key part of bringing your words to life. It’s the protagonist at the heart of the story that will make your readers want to keep going, to follow them to the end point. But what makes a good main character?

How to write a first chapter

Wondering how to write a good first chapter of a novel? Writing an opening chapter is something that sets many new writers on edge. Where to start? How to start? Why to start?

Everything you need to know about beta readers

I never used to understand how important this part of the process was. I wasn’t sure when to share my manuscript with beta readers, or how to deal with feedback. What if I didn’t know how to use their comments, or how to improve my book? Who should I ask?What if they didn’t have anything good to say, or they just completely hated it?

As I prepare to send my manuscript out to the world, I’m going to run through everything you need to know about beta readers and how to get the best from them.

What does a book editor do?

I’ve spent years editing my own poetry and fiction, but I know having an editor by your side can be crucial. So what does an editor do, and why is it different to editing your book yourself?

How to be a Poet

What is a Poetry Pamphlet or Chapbook?

What is a Poetry Pamphlet or Chapbook? A rare thing happened yesterday. I’d spent the afternoon writing, and then doing the obligatory cleaning to make my house look less like a pigsty. Between chores and our evening meal I had a spare hour, and I sat in our old rocking chair by the glass doors…

What happens during the production of a chapbook?

I thought it might be nice to do a little blog about the process I’ve experienced while producing my first poetry chapbook!

Spoken Word Poetry – Reading at Events and on YouTube…

As the publication date for Bone Ovation approaches, I’m slowly becoming involved with literary events and (heaven forfend!) doing some actual spoken word poetry.

How to find work/life balance as an Author

How to write when you have a day job

Pondered, queried, and despaired over… This one’s a toughy, I can’t deny it. I work full time myself, but am also trying to paint my life as a poet, a novelist, and occasional features writer…

How to cope when there’s no time to write, draw, or create

What do you do when there’s no time to write? The answer might seem quite obvious – well… you… don’t write? But sometimes it’s not that easy.

5 Best Free Resources for Writers

Trying to write but need some inspiration? Or perhaps you’ve written something incredible but there’s one sticky paragraph you just can’t get right? Behold – 5 best free resources for writers to solve all (or at least most) of your writing woes.

How to balance writing with submitting stories and poems

Do you sometimes find it tricky to strike the balance between writing and the somewhat less artful art of submitting?

Why it’s important to look after yourself

You know that feeling when you’re tied up in a few too many tangles and you begin to feel a bit like you’re drowning?