Advice to a Young Writer

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Five years ago, as a favour, I did a manuscript assessment for a young, first-time writer, someone I had known all his life. I didn’t charge for it and reading it back now I wonder if I went a little harder than I would have had he been a paying customer. Perhaps it was just that I was still in my brutally honest phase. (That’s assuming I’m not still in it – the jury’s out.)

But for any young writers willing to take advice on board, there were a lot of really good ideas on how he could become a better writer. If you’re a young writer or even just a beginner, maybe there’s something in there for you. Hopefully, there’s something in there for all of us. Continue reading

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Problematic Advice to a Jobseeker

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I know how lucky I am. By choice, I’ve had a year out of permanent work, spending that time writing, doing some more writing, writing a little more, publishing a book I wrote, and being choosy about which freelance roles I accepted.

But now that I’m looking to return to full-time work, I’ve had a number of interesting pieces of advice on how I can do that more easily. Some of them are interesting. Some of them are downright terrible. Some might seem unethical. But if everybody else is doing them, am I just losing out by not doing them, too? Continue reading

“Right,” Said Fred – But How Did He Say It?

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I was reading the writing tips of a published author recently and amongst rather a lot of them was the advice that almost all dialogue attribution should use “said”. If the dialogue is a question, then “asked” is acceptable and if someone is responding, then “answered” is also okay. But nothing else. And even better, don’t use dialogue attribution at all.

Leaving aside questions of verb tense, I can’t tell you how much I disagree with this advice. Because while it tells me that a character was speaking, it gives no indication of how the character said the words. And often the words themselves just aren’t enough for me to know. Continue reading

Advice To An Almost Famous Author

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There are probably a number of writers out there who think (and hope) it’s only a matter of time (and getting your writing in front of the right person) before the transition will begin from aspiring author to actual auteur. They might be right or they might be a long way off.

Once an author has achieved a level of success, it’s often too late to give any advice, especially if that success has gone straight to their head. So here’s a few important things to remember aimed at the almost famous author to help avoid becoming an asshole (as famous people so often do). Continue reading