Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.
HUNTER S. THOMPSON
Inspect your “hads” and see if you really need them.
The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.
The conscious mind is the editor, and the subconscious mind is the writer.
Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description.
I find that discussing an idea out loud is often the way to kill it stone dead.
The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.
Just do it.
(With thanks to @AdviceToWriters apart from No. 8)
Reading a recently completed novel to your children can be a terrifying experience. Of course they’ll like it, mainly because there’s ice cream in the freezer if they laugh in the right places. But really, there’s no better way to find out if you have a story or not. As we all know, reading aloud is the best way to find flaws in our work. Reading to your kids raises the stakes. Thankfully, it’s all stuff you need to hear, including plot loopholes you may have missed. ‘Dad, where did she get the hair brush if they’re all stranded on an island?’ Good point, have a double scoop.
It’s invaluable discovering where the humor lies and where boredom creeps in. It’s not always easy, but tough. The novel will be all the better for it. And trust me, there is no better feeling than hearing, ‘I love this, I want to read it all night’ (translation: cool I get to stay up) and ‘Can I please take this to school?’ Below are some images drawn by my daughter Sophie (10) when I was struggling for ideas.
Writing a novel is akin to solving a Rubik’s Cube. With vaseline on your hands. Underwater. Blindfolded. But it’s also FUN. Sometimes you just need a final push to get you over the line. Perhaps visualization could work. When my daughter struggled with high jump at school she imagined a knife-welding pirate was chasing her. (Violent class).
Here are some tips I often use to get the job done:
Ask yourself – what is the worst thing I can do to this character, then do it.
Download the Freedom app. Sure, you’ll miss out on baby photos and recipes on Facebook, but you’ll get a whole lot more done.
Find the weakest scene in your novel and DELETE IT. Don’t hold back. You’re not a scene collector, you’re an author. Find the next weakest scene. Are you brave enough to REPEAT? Ultimately you are trying to fit a lake into a cup without spilling a drop. Only you will know what was (and wasn’t) left out.
Introduce a new character halfway through who makes things worse.
Short paragraphs are easier for the reader.
Switching between Word and Scrivener helps with perspective.
If you’re lacking spark or confidence, listen to what Ricky Gervais told Time magazine.
None of that helps? Perhaps imagine a knife-welding pirate is chasing you. Or do what the masters do: drink.