June 23rd is officially Typewriter Day! Typewriter Day officially celebrates the anniversary of granting a patent to American inventor Christopher Latham Stokes the patent to the first Typewriter (in 1868).
We thought, since this is a day to celebrate all-things writing, we’d ask some of our favourite authors for their best tips to help you write your first novel!
Happy Typewriter Day everyone!
Author of The Stockman’s Secret
1 – Learn to delegate time to writing and neglect everything else while you do. A tough task, but imperative to be able get the words down.
2 – Write from your heart, and about what you know or have researched a tonne about.
3 – Learn to take constructive criticism, but don’t, I repeat, DO NOT, take it to heart.
Author of Promoted To Be His Princess
1. Always finish the book. If you never finish, you’ll never learn how to, and no one publishes a half-finished book.
2. Be disciplined. This means finishing your book, meeting your deadlines (yes, meeting your deadlines is important!), making your word count. Whatever the goal, take a professional approach, especially if you want to make writing your career.
3. Everything is about character. Even plot is about character. So make sure you know your characters inside out, because it’s through your characters that your book comes alive.
Author of Brooding Rebel To Baby Daddy
1. Write fast, edit later.
When you’re on a roll, let the story come flying out of your fingertips. Don’t let the speedbumps slow you down. You know what I mean – the sections you need to research, or don’t sound quite right. Highlight them. (I like yellow, as its bright and glaring, but you do you.) Research later. Fix the dodgy bits later. For me, the sections I write with freedom are the ones that need the least tweaking after all.
2. Put your muse in the right mood
You know those days where every time you look at your partner you feel as if you’re itching for an argument but you’re not sure why? Then you remember you had a bad dream in which they did something wholly annoying, and in real life they are actually sweetness and light? In the exact same way, what you read, the music you listen to, the TV shows you watch, absolutely affect your mood, and, in turn, your writing tone. If you’ve spent the night before bingeing The Walking Dead your muse is going to be in a deeply mistrustful place. Writing a sweet, snappy contemporary? Make a happy playlist, read books that delight, re-watch your fave rom coms. Get that muse of yours in the right mood.
3. Find your happy place
So long as you have access to the tools you require, you can write literally anywhere. But when and where do you write best? Most? Not busy work but productively. Up with the birds, school hours, or late into the night? At a desk, in an office, with the door closed, in dead silence, or in a noisy cafe? Under pressure, say in the car while the kids play sport, or with leisure – on the couch, or even in bed? Try different times, places, ways. Figure out the combination that makes you the most productive. And get to it.
Author of Elsa Goody, Bushranger
1. Write write write – then read it aloud. If it doesn’t sound right to your ear, it probably isn’t right.
2. Don’t use big, fancy words when ordinary, warm and friendly words will do
3. Write what you love to write; if you don’t know your chosen theme or subject, you’ll learn it – as long as you’re writing what you love to write
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Author of Lonely in Longreach
My mother made me take typing at high school figuring it would make me more employable in the future. She was right, but not in the way she thought. I learned to type on old bangers before graduating to electric typewriters and then on to the keyboards we know so well today. The days of liquid paper and carbon copies may be well behind us but the fundamentals of good writing remain the same. Here’s my 3 top classic writing tips:
1 The importance of conflict
I’m not talking interpersonal conflict between characters. I’m referring to the conflict we all carry within us, those contradicting and opposing forces that make each one of us so interesting. You characters need to have those elements too. For example, the heavy metal biker guy who teaches yoga on the side. Or how about the oncology nurse who spends her days caring for the sick and her nights training for Muay Thai battles where she enjoys drawing blood. Let your imagination work to create interesting, contradictory characters who will bring your story to life.
2 Writing is like baking bread
Best advice I ever got. Once you’ve mixed all your elements together and kneaded your story into some sort of shape you need to place it in a dark place to proof, metaphorically speaking of course. Leaving some time between finishing your story and rereading it means you can approach it with clarity and identify where it needs to be rewritten and strengthened, or trimmed lean and mean.
3 The fine art of taking critical feedback
This is never a comfortable process, no matter how many years you’ve been writing. Step one – open the document and read through the comments. Step two – take a week to stomp around the house, shaking your fist at the feedback and ranting about how that person wouldn’t know good writing if it bit them on the backside. Step three – calmly sit down and go through the comments again. I can guarantee you’ll be able to see that some, if not all, of the comments have some validity and are making suggestions that will contribute to a stronger story. Remember, your editors and beta readers are on your side.
Author of The Goldminer’s Sister
1. If you can, write something… anything… every day. It is the discipline of sitting down and just getting on with it. As the great Nora Roberts said, it is easier to fix something, however bad, than a blank page.
2. You can never stop learning. No matter how many books I have written I still attend writing workshops and will take away some new tidbit. Writing is a craft that takes time and commitment to learn.
3. And last and most importantly… my number one tip… The first draft of your story is you telling yourself the story. It is not going to be the piece of work that you show a potential publisher, therefore it doesn’t matter what the word count is or how ugly it looks. Take the time to get to know your characters, let them take you on their journey. Resist the temptation to go back and ‘fix up that first chapter’… I have seen so many novice writers with the most beautifully polished first three chapters and then nothing else. The important thing is to get down the bones of your story with the goal of producing something vaguely ‘book shaped’ ie, a beginning, a middle and an end. This gives you the skeleton on which to go back and craft your book with the subsequent revisions.
Author of Something To Talk About
1. A book is as simple as a person in a place with a problem.
2. You have to read to be a writer! Not only do you learn from immersing yourself in good fiction but when you’re stuck, getting lost in another book for a while can often reignite your inspiration.
3. Make every scene work as hard as it can and move the overall story forward. If you don’t know WHY a scene is there, answer is, it probably shouldn’t be.
Author of Up On Horseshoe Hill
1. I usually keep a small note book in my handbag, to jot down things that come to me when I’m away from my laptop, because if I don’t, I’m invariably scrabbling for receipts or other scraps of paper and writing notes in minuscule handwriting. I have so many notebooks that have been given to me as gifts—it might take years to get through them all (and I think I might receive more of them) but I love my collection. Particularly as it often reflects the personality of the person who has given it to me.
2. I love to write with nice pens. Whenever my husband stays in a decent hotel (he often travels for work), I ask him to bring me back a pen if one might be available… I have quite a collection and love the weight and memories of a nice looking pen. Even though I use a laptop to write my books, I print them out for final read throughs – and always edit using a favourite pen.
3. In addition to backing up with a memory device or cloud (which I never quite trust) I have an email back up system – at the end of every day, I email my work to my most reliable daughter, Michaela. Apparently she has a file with all my backups on it ‘just in case.’
Happy writing, we hope you’ve been inspired!
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