Welcome to week 19 of our Top 10 Writing Tips feature. If you’ve missed any of the other posts, you can find them all HERE. Please feel free to pop over and connect with the wonderful authors who have taken part.
Next up for the challenge is historical fiction author Melvyn Fickling.
Melvyn’s first novel, Bluebirds, was inspired by two events. His first viewing, as a small boy, of the epic ‘Battle of Britain’ movie at his local cinema had a lasting, visceral influence on him. The discovery that a boy from his hometown had grown up to become one of Churchill’s vaunted Few, had flown in the iconic Spitfire and had scored kills in that pivotal battle, led Melvyn to research his life in detail. That research became the basis for the storyline of Bluebirds.
He is currently researching and plotting the third book in the trilogy, set in the siege of Malta and span late 1941 and early 1942.
Top 10 Writing Tips by Melvyn Fickling:
1) Show, don’t tell. Yes, I know it’s a perennial rule which causes a lot of heated discussion. But it’s TRUE. Make your reader feel something rather than telling your reader what to feel;
2) Have a broad theme. Give your story a moral undercurrent. It could be motherhood, religion, privilege or any number of lodestone issues. Your theme doesn’t need to surf the wave, rather it is the underswell that creates the wave;
3) Write what you know. Once you exhaust that particular well, write what you don’t know, but conduct exhaustive research first;
4) Look for the music in your words and aim to write beautiful prose. Be sensitive to the flow and the rhythm that will inspire your reader to turn your pages;
5) Make your dialogue convincing. Write dialogue in the way people actually talk to each other;
6) Check the small factual details of your story. If you make a blooper, someone out there will haul you over the coals for it;
7) Try to avoid editing as you write, however tempting that might be. Get it down and edit it later;
8) Having said that, learn the principals of editing, they will inform your first draft writing;
9) When you finally come to edit your first draft, hunt down and kill your adverbs (or at least reconsider their right to live). In particular find (Ctrl-F) words ending in LY and cull with little mercy;
10) Above all, listen to your characters. Treat them like your children. You have created and nurtured them, but they will never be balanced individuals until you allow them to live the lives that they choose.
Huge thanks to Melvyn for sharing his top tips with us. You can find out more about Melvyn and his books at: