The oldest cliche in the writing business is “Write about what you know” – and like most cliches, this is true.
Your own life is the greatest source of material. However, as you learn your craft, you will be able to handle all kinds of plots and situations of which you have no personal knowledge. In the beginning, write about yourself, your family,your home, your neighborhood. Shape the material, give it form and direction, but use familiar territory.
A plot is simply a problem and a solution. Be sure the solution is plausible.
Make each event in your story an inevitable outgrowth of preceding events.
Keep a notebook in your pocket . You never know when a brilliant idea for a story will strike – so be prepared in case you forget it later.
Don’t show your manuscript to anyone while it is a work in progress. If you get stuck, then perhaps you can ask for help, but it’s better if you solve the problem by yourself.
Choose your favorite authors and read them like a text book. Find out why they appeal to you – their style, their descriptive talents, their clever plots.
If you are using a character from real life, make sure that he is changed so he can’t be recognised.
The background of your story is very valuable. If you can paint an exotic picture, or evoke a nostalgic mood, your reader will be captivated. But don’t let too much description get in the way of your story.
Love your characters – admire them, forgive their failures and feel warmth towards them, and so will your reader. And if you have a villain, give him some redeeming features too, because no-one is wholly bad.
Don’t be the one who yearns to be a writer, but never gets round to it. Procrastination is the enemy.
I think people do not regret things they have done, so much as the things they never got round to doing.
Writing can be a joy if you put your heart into it.
Send me your comments, and let me know any aspect of writing you would like me to cover.