Welcome to week 23 of our Top 10 Writing Tips feature. If you’ve missed any of the other top tip 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 author, Val Portelli.
Despite receiving her first rejection letter aged nine from some lovely people at a well-known Women’s magazine, Val continued writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy.
To save her sanity she completed and published her first full-length novel. This was followed by a second traditionally published book before deciding self-publishing was the way to go. In between writing her longest novel to date at over 100,000 words, Val publishes weekly stories for her Facebook author page and website.
She writes in various genres, although her short stories normally include her trademark twist of ‘Quirky.’ From having too many hours in the day, she is now actively seeking out a planet with forty-eight-hour days, to have time to fit in all the stories waiting to be told.
Top 10 Writing Tips by Val Portelli
- Before writing your book, invest in a tissue making factory. Every time you end up in tears because of a bad review or rejection letter from a publisher, you will be boosting company profits by the number of boxes you buy to mop up the tears. Win/win.
- Stock up with wine. This is useful both for drowning your sorrows and celebrating when you sell a book.
- Use Google, Wikipedia and other reference sources to check facts, but beware of becoming side-tracked. Did you know an octopus can get through very small spaces because it has no backbone?
See what I mean?
- Typing ‘The End’ is just the beginning. When your manuscript is finished, put it aside for at least a week, then try to read it through with a fresh eye. This is the first draft and it’s a long process until it’s finally ready to be published. Have patience.
- When you think it’s perfect, use different platforms to read it through again. A printed copy, viewed on a Kindle, a phone and a laptop, in different formats and sizes will help show up errors.
- Read! Every author should be an avid reader. Try books outside your normal genre preference and consider what makes one book memorable and another boring.
- Never stop learning. Join writers’ groups, use social media, follow book bloggers and other professionals in the industry. Listen to more experienced authors, take a deep breath and ask the silly questions. Another newbie might want to know the same thing but be too scared to ask. I’ve found the writing community to be one of the most helpful, and willing to share their experiences. Nobody knows everything, but someone will usually have an answer.
- Family and friends will naturally think your book is wonderful. Once you’ve built up a relationship with other authors, ask them if they will read through your novel and give you feedback. Develop a thick skin. Remember they’re not criticising you personally, just trying to help you improve. It’s your book, but if several readers say the same thing, it’s worth considering their comments.
- I know how it’s just so easy to just have a favourite word you just use all the time without realising. Guess what mine is? 😄 Remember ‘that’ is usually not needed. Use ‘find’ to see how many times your favourite word comes up. Use a thesaurus to suggest alternative words and save repetition. It keeps your work interesting and expands your vocabulary.
- After submitting your novel to a publisher or agent, get on with writing your next book. It often takes months before you receive a response, and if you’re lucky enough to be offered a 2 or 3 book deal, you need to be ahead of the game. Publishing is a constantly evolving world, and self-publishing is now a viable option to consider.
Follow the rules, 😉 but most of all, enjoy the experience.
Huge thanks to Val for sharing her top tips with us. You can find out more about Val and her latest book ‘Story of a Country Boy’ here:
Amazon UK – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NJGXVMT
Amazon USA – www.amazon.com/dp/B07NJGXVMT