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Aspiring Authors

I mentor a group of Aspiring Authors but recently another person contacted me asking for hints and tips to someone thinking about writing.


So here goes - a few tips.

  1. Read across genres. As you read if you find something that sings to you, brings out an emotional response, etc really look at that section. Why did it do it? What did the author do that made you notice it?

  2. Write, write, and then write more.

  3. Edit. You can edit as you go or when you finish the MS. Either way works but you need to edit that MS over and over and over again. And when you think you've finished - edit it again!

  4. Do NOT write about something you've never experienced. Your readers will know immediately and they'll certainly leave bad reviews telling everyone. Unless you're writing a fantasy/Sci-Fi novel, it simply won't ring true. If you've never done BDSM don't write about it; if you've never kayaked forget describing canoeing down the rapids. You'd find it hard to describe the feelings, the intensities, etc, if you've never experienced what you're trying to write. Stick to what you can describe honestly.

  5. Show - don't tell!!! I can't stress this enough

  6. Do NOT head-hop. It is too confusing for the reader. It's another thing I can't stress enough about.

  7. Stick to one POV per chapter or put in a break but certainly don't exceed 2 POVs in one. And if you do use 2 don't keep switching! Only one break! Preferably give each voice their own chapter even if it's short.

  8. There are words you don't usually need - that, was/is/are/am, very, really, thing, feel, think, etc. Get rid of them when you're editing.

  9. Use an active voice rather than a passive.

  10. Explore deep POV.

  11. Dialogue tags become important when there are more than 2 people in a conversation otherwise use them sparingly.

  12. Try to avoid using the word 'said' too much, there a about 100 words that mean the same.

  13. When editing discover what your 'crutch' words are and get rid of them.

  14. Use Oxford commas

  15. Try to avoid using present participles to start a sentence.


There's oodles more I could write but those are the main ones that I've learnt over the years.


Once you think your book is ready then here are my top suggestions.



  1. I'd suggest you don't self-publish your first book.

  2. You may think your book is great, think it's ready, but is it? There are a lot of bad self-pubbed books out there that the authors think are wonderful but are terrible.

  3. It's expensive to do properly.

  4. Traditional publishers will rarely pick up an author who has self-published. Once you've got a publisher THEN you can go down the self-pub route if you want.

  5. Avoid vanity publishers like the plague. If a publisher wants money from you they're a vanity publisher. In all likelihood you will lose money and have nothing in return. You shouldn't never pay to have your book published unless you're self-pubbing.

  6. Be prepare for rejection. Very few aspiring authors get accepted on their first submission with a publisher or an agent. Learn to grow a thick skin and learn from the feedback.

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