‘WRITE ON! – The Writer’s Help Book’ is written as a source of encouragement for those new to writing, a reminder and lift-me-up, should they feel the need, for those of a more experienced bent. It is not a technical guide to the finer points of grammar, syntax or punctuation, but deals with the various stages of getting the words out of the wood and down on the paper, from the tentative beginnings right through to THE END.
An edited collection of my articles from the ‘Beginners’ pages of WRITING Magazine, I hope this book inspires, encourages, fires up, unblocks and cajoles, from hopeful start to triumphant, rampaging finish, helping scribes of all kinds to write rather than staring defeat in its dark, unwholesome face and downing their own bodyweight in black coffee, alcohol and biscuits.
Starting out or starting up
Keeping it going
Kick-starting your mojo
Ideas and how to get them
Writer’s block… or not?
You as a writer
General writing stuff
Submitting your work
Targeted Audience: writers, authors
Adrian Magson is the author of 14 crime/thriller novels and many short stories and articles. His latest novels are ‘Execution’ (Severn House – May 2013), 5th in the Harry Tate spy series, and ‘Death at the Clos du Lac’ (Allison &Busby), 4th in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series. A regular reviewer for Shots Magazine, he writes the ‘Beginners’ and ‘New Author’ pages for Writing Magazine, and is the author of ‘Write On! – The Writer’s Help Book’ (Accent Press).
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I spent many years learning how to write, trying plays, poems, radio comedy, slogans on t-shirts, slogans on beer mats – and having lots and lots of short stories published, until I finally got my first book deal. During this time I was invited to write a regular monthly column in the UK’s Writing Magazine, which I called ‘Beginners’. It was – and is – a guide to getting down and DOING IT. No navel gazing, no tricks, no smoke or mirrors – simply sitting down and writing. Because until you’ve tried, you can’t know if you can do it or not.
All of it is from lessons learned, tips collected and tried, and lots and lots of experience. But hell, if I can do it…
Read more, including a sample from the book
Sample from Book:
KICK-STARTING YOUR MOJO
Everyone gets stale from time to time, or dispirited – especially when the rejections begin to land on the doormat like cluster bombs. That’s when the blue meanies can set in and seriously dent your creativity and drive. There are various ways of combating this, from eating chocolate cake, to chugging back mugs of cheap sherry or chewing your fingernails down to the bone.
But how about some less harmful methods?
These include getting out there and putting yourself in the frame of mind where you can be reminded about why you wanted to be a writer in the first place. Or simply barging through all the dark moods by sheer determination and bloody-mindedness, until you see the light on the other side.
GETTING THE BUZZ
I met up with a friend and writing colleague the other day, to discuss a forthcoming literary event we were doing together. For reasons of convenience, the fact that there was a decent coffee shop, and probably for the same reason salmon and wildebeest invariably end up treading familiar territory, we met at a local bookshop.
As if that were such a strain.
It was one of those barn-like places where books come at you from all directions, and if you’re of an easily intimidated frame of mind, you’ll feel a little awed by the sheer volume of… well, volumes. But it could easily as have been one of the local independent bookshops, as the net result was the same: I felt a warm glow spreading through me like a virus – and it had nothing to do with the coffee.
And I have to admit that the visit did me the power of good. Because it took me right back to the years before I got published, when I’d find myself in a bookshop, eyeing up my favourite authors and wondering how they’d done it. How they’d got there.
And thinking: I want to be part of this!
By being part of, I meant being published – and there was, as there is now, such a huge variety of possible subjects to choose from, it was a little like being in a sweet shop and not knowing where to turn next.
That’s not to say that this recent experience was instantly productive or impressive. I had the drive home to follow, during which many creative thoughts probably slid out of my brain and fell onto the hard shoulder to join the bits of shredded lorry tyres, the occasional shoe (why always one?) and the unfortunate wildlife which hadn’t managed to join the chicken on the other side. But I did reach my PC with enough of a pleasant charge of energy remaining to make me sit down with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for what I was doing for a living.
And that was worth its weight in gold.
Writing being the solitary procedure it so often is, we can so easily fall into the habit of getting too wedded to our keyboard day-to-day, of simply having our minds cluttered with the very idea of being productive, come hell or high water. It’s a bit like thrashing around in the sea and not going anywhere; it might look impressive for a while, but it soon gets tiring. This false productivity also comes at the expense of self-motivation, because it can leech away that fantastic yet hard-to-explain buzz which set us on the writing path in the first place.
A good way of resetting your writing default, therefore, is to re-acquaint yourself with the marketplace. And the only way of doing that is to get out there in it, even if just for an hour or so. Forget the internet and all those soul-less sites which, although packed with colour, information and ease of access, simply lack the sheer atmosphere and tactile quality of a room full of books.
It means going to a bookshop or library and becoming absorbed by your surroundings. Pick up a book or ten and check out the blurb. See what’s out there and allow yourself to take in the sheer volume and variation of published works, whether in your favourite genre or not. Check the latest publications and see what’s hot – and who the publishers are. Do a quick word count to see what’s current, and take a peak at how the opening couple of paragraphs are handled and compare them with your own style.
It’s also worth looking at the strap lines on books. Yes, it’s marketing-speak, and meant to catch the eye for a split second before the reader moves on. But do the snappy lines give you any ideas? Do they throw up an image in your mind? If so, what kind of strap could you think of for your current/future project?
Many books also contain a lot of information about the author (their websites) and the publishers and agents (check the attributions pages). This is especially useful for the yet-to-be-published, and at least gives you a name to aim for when making that first submission approach.
Of course, some might say there’s a down-side to being surrounded by so much published material. The very sight of so many books, many claiming to be ‘best-sellers’, can be a rather brutal reminder of just how much competition exists out there. Well, very true. But life is all about competition (sorry, kids) and trying to overcome it. Instead, take comfort from the fact that those authors on the shelves all had to start somewhere – and most of them probably did a lot of what you’re doing right now before they got their big break.
The worst thing in the world would be to try and pretend that the successful authors don’t exist.
The best thing in the world is to try your utmost to join them.
• What do you want to do – write or push words around?
• Renew your desire to get published by becoming absorbed in the marketplace.
• See what else is being published and compare it with your own writing.
• Take in the books on the shelves and reinforce your determination to put yours within distance of joining them.