It’s been said that the second book is so much harder to write than the first and I would certainly agree with that. My second book, The Home, which published September 4th 2018, was definitely more difficult to write than The Good Mother.
There were two reasons for this; firstly, there was more pressure to meet a deadline and secondly, I included some dark themes in The Home which weren’t always easy to write about. However, since my author career began, I’ve been interacting with some amazing writers, either participating in their master classes, reading their books, or simply contacting them and asking for advice. Their input has been invaluable during the writing of The Home, so I thought I would share some of their tips which helped me the most.
I bought tickets to participate in Peter James’ master class titled ‘How To Write A Page Turner’, several months ago and it didn’t disappoint. I came away with so many ideas, I couldn’t wait to get writing. One piece of his advice that really stuck with me is to continually ask yourself: does it drive the narrative forward? Apply this to every sentence you write to make sure that the story is well-paced – a critical consideration in the competitive arena of thriller writing.
A wonderful orator, as well as writer, Kate Mosse is a pleasure to listen to. I attended several of her sessions at the ‘Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’, in March 2018 and her dedication to research is inspirational. The Home is set in the 1970s and 1980s and as I was just a young child in the ‘80s, I needed to research to understand the nuances of these decades. While I didn’t quite spend as much time as Mosse (she invested three to four years analysing the 300-year time period for her latest book series!), I did spend several weeks identifying and interviewing women and came across some fascinating stories during the process.
How do you write the perfect crime? This was the question award-winning author Mark Billingham answered during his lecture on the ‘rules of crime writing – and everything you need to know about ignoring them!’ Fabulously entertaining (he used to be a stand-up comedian and actor), if there’s one thing I learnt from Mark it’s this: “There’s so much more to a book than whodunnit – it’s about WHYdunnit.”
Talking to fellow Aria Fiction author Adele O’Neill, who wrote Brothers & Sisters and Behind A Closed Door, she told me that one of the most important things to remember when writing is to know your characters. Her reasoning is that these are the people entrusted to the telling of the story and readers need to be compelled by them. The characters need their own set of complexities, their own opinions, and their own back-stories, then drip-feed readers just enough information to whet their appetite and kick start their imaginations.
When anyone asks me for advice on becoming an author, I tell them two things: write every day and read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. It is part biography, part collection of tips for the aspiring writer and is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s hard to pick out just one piece of advice so I’ll end this post with my own writing tip – read this book!
This post was originally created for Fiction Book Blog