Eleanor Watkins’ Three Top Tips for New Writers
I am delighted this week to welcome to you the fabulous Eleanor Watkins . . . drum roll please! Eleanor is an experienced author; she has had more than 40 novels published, including a new book this year called The Village, and the fabulous and fun Beech Bank Girls books from Dernier Publishing (the first two were short-listed for Christian Resources awards).
I have known Eleanor for some years now, and her gentle faith and willingness for her talent to be used by the Lord to bring the message of the good news to young people is an inspiration.
Many of Eleanor’s books are Christian stories for young people, so her advice is well worth taking to heart for anyone starting out in this niche. I’m delighted she has been kind enough to give us her time. You may have heard some of her advice before either here or on our facebook page – that’s because it is excellent advice. 🙂
Here are Eleanor’s three top tips for us:
Read, Write, Edit
(1) Read. Read as much as you can, not just in the genre you want to write in, but as widely as you can. Notice how the author grabs the attention from the first page, maintains it and keeps the pace throughout the book, and reaches a satisfying and exciting conclusion, preferably with a surprise or two and a twist in the tale. If you’ve read a really exciting and engrossing book, you’ll probably have been so busy turning pages that you won’t notice the construction, so go back and read it again, making notes as you go. Keep a notebook as reference for your own writing.
(2) Write. If this is what you want to do, then write! If a book, an article or a short story seems too daunting to begin with, write letters (a sadly forgotten art these days), journals, book reviews. One of my nephews, studying creative writing, was told by a tutor not to attempt serious writing until he was thirty! I didn’t agree! It’s true that life experience provides a great deal of material for a writer, but, whatever your age, write! You’ll be learning, developing your technique, honing your skills and be ready to roll when that amazing idea or opportunity comes along.
(3) Edit. If you’ve completed a piece of writing, well done! But don’t be tempted to sit back and pat yourself on the back. You may think you’ve poured yourself heart and soul into your work, but it can always be improved on. I’ve heard the advice that tells you to write what you think is the right length, then cut the words by half. Sounds drastic, but it’s amazing how something can be sharpened and honed by cutting out unnecessary stuff. Overwriting is a sure sign of a beginner. Less is often more. Murder your darlings if you have to. Listen to your editors. Have your work read by as many people as possible who know what they’re talking about. Strive to make your work the best it can be.
(4) Oh, and there’s a fourth tip…………enjoy your writing! It will show.”
Thank you for these great tips, Eleanor!
Did you find them helpful? Please let us know in the comments, it would be lovely to hear from you. 🙂
P.S. This photo of Eleanor and myself was taken at a trade event for publishers, retailers and writers in Derbyshire earlier this year. The book Eleanor is holding is the latest in the Beech Bank Girls series of stories for girls – they are brilliantly written books for church or non-church girls. You can read about them by clicking here – it’s not too late to order for Christmas, but be quick! One of the books has a Christmas theme, so the set would make a wonderful gift for any 10-14-year-old girl you love. 🙂