Welcome to week 2 of our Top 10 Writing Tips by… feature. Learning from mentors helps us to improve and evolve in our chosen field, and I still recall the top tips given to me at the start of my writing journey. In honour of that, and to help the next generation of writers’ young and old, I started a feature whereby established authors impart their words of wisdom and share their top ten writing tips.
Next up for the challenge is author Linda Huber.
Top 10 Writing Tips by Linda Huber
The first piece Linda remembers writing was for her Writer’s badge in the Brownies. That was when she discovered how fascinating putting words together was and how powerful words can be. Over the years she’s had fifty-odd short stories and articles printed in women’s magazines, and then in September 2013 her debut novel The Paradise Trees was published.
Stolen Sister, published by Bombshell Books, is her eighth suspense novel.
Here are Linda’s top 10 writing tips:
- Make a short, rough plan of the entire book. My books usually have Part One, Part Two etc, so my rough plan has four or five sentences about what the action’s going to be in each part.
- Think about your characters. Who are they, what makes them tick? One really good tip is to write down ten things about each main character that the reader never finds out. This makes the characters more real to you, and it comes across in your writing. Keep notes on all your characters, especially if you’re writing a series.
- Characters need conflict, whether your book’s a romance or a gritty thriller. Introduce your main character’s conflict right at the beginning, to give readers a reason to read on. The conflict can be anything from finding out a family heirloom’s a fake, which will devastate Grandma, to burying a body in the garden… By the end of the book, all the main conflicts should be resolved.
- Give your characters distinct names. One of my books came back from its first edit with the news that my characters included Megan, Mim, Martha, Mhairi and Marianne. I honestly hadn’t realised…
- When you start writing, make more detailed plans of the first three or four chapters, then when you reach the end of chapter two, make plans for the following couple, so the plan is always a chapter or two ahead of the writing. This helps you keep on track and it also means you’re flexible, necessary because plots, characters, action etc all change during the writing process.
- If you get stuck, go for a long walk by yourself, and think about your book. And take pen and paper with you.
- When you’re in a writing phase, try to write every day, even if it’s just a couple of sentences. If life gets too much in the way, make sure you at least think about your book every day, planning what you’ll write next session.
- Keep on writing. You’ll probably want to read through what you wrote the previous day before you continue, but if you feel your book is heading in more or less the right direction, leave major changes until you have the first draft down.
- When the first draft’s finished, read through it once and do small tweaks, then leave it for several weeks before you read through with editing specs on. I do this two or three times before each book goes to my own editor, who always gets first go of it, no matter if I’m self-publishing or if the book will go to a publisher. Outside help is invaluable.
- Keep a pencil and paper by your bed, to write down those ideas you have at 3 a.m. They’ll be gone in the morning if you don’t… (Pencils make your handwriting easier to read the following day, believe me, I’ve tried everything…)
Huge thanks to Linda for sharing her top tips with us. If you want to check out her latest release Stolen Sister, then click HERE.
Twenty-two years ago, Erin and Vicky’s parents were killed in an explosion.
Now grown up, Erin and Vicky – who have been separated – are unaware they are siblings. But when Vicky is called to her great-aunt’s deathbed, she learns that she isn’t alone after all.
But where is Erin? Vicky’s search begins…
Elsewhere, Christine has problems of her own. In the first week of her new job, she makes a disturbing discovery and is struggling to come to terms with impending motherhood.
Vicky is almost ready to give up her search when an old foster mother calls with shocking news.
What links Vicky and Christine?
Will Vicky ever find her sister?
And can Christine’s baby escape the past that befell her mother?
Linda Huber is the bestselling author of the psychological suspense thrillers Baby Dear and Death Wish. Stolen Sister is a gripping family drama which will appeal to fans of authors like Kerry Fisher, Diane Chamberlain and Amanda Prowse.