Where to start?

There’s a lot of information out there about writing.

Freelance writing, blogging, plays, novels, short stories – you name it and you’ll find advice galore online. But how much of it is useful?

As an experiment, I’ve just Googled ‘writing a book’. There are a massive 1,150,000,000 entries to wade through. I’m afraid I gave up after the first ten, but even so, a few of them look like they will be quite helpful.

Top of the list – and the Google rankings – is the Guardian’s article ‘How to write a book in 30 days’. This actually turns out to be an article on ‘how to write a comprehensive outline of your book in 30 days that will allow you to then go on and write your novel’. But interesting and helpful for all that – if you are willing and able to write to a timetable.

In fact the first few search results bring up a couple of other links to practical advice on writing outlines. One of the more interesting ones is ‘The snowflake method for designing a novel’ by Randy Ingermanson. Again, I quite like the look of this approach, although I have started work on the outline of my book already, and I’m not sure if I can face starting again. Perhaps if I get stuck…

Another interesting result was the BBC’s piece on ‘PD James’s 10 tips for writing novels’, which gives an insight into the mind of one of the UK’s top authors. It is quite reassuring.

“I believe that someone who can write, who has a feeling for words and knows how to use them will find a publisher,” she advises. “Because after all, publishers do still need to find new writers.”

And finally, I will not forget the words of wisdom offered by author Scott Burkun in his blog ‘How to write a book – the short honest truth’.

Anyone can write a book, he says, but “writing a good book, compared to a bad one, involves one thing. Work.”

Useful advice indeed! I’d better get on with it then…

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