Learning from mentors helps us to improve and evolve in our chosen field, and I still recall the advice given to me at the start of my writing journey.
To help other writers, I started a feature whereby established authors shared their words of wisdom and top ten writing tips.
It was a huge success and I was delighted to bring the feature back for a second season! You’ll find all the Top 10 Writing Tip articles here.
Meet Majorie Mallon
My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros!
M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained, and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. She is lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad to Portugal. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery smile.
MJ’s motto is to Do what Your Heart Desires.
And her favourite genre to write is fantasy/magical realism because life should be sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic! Her YA fantasy series is published by Next Chapter Publishing.
MJ’s writing credits also include a multi-genre approach: paranormal, best-selling horror, supernatural short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She has worked with some amazing authors and bloggers compiling an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown and a spin off poetry collection, Lockdown Innit.
MJ has been blogging for many moons at her blog home Kyrosmagica, (which means Crystal Magic.) where she continues to celebrate the spiritual realm, her love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.
Her eclectic blog shares her love of reading, reviewing books, writing, and photography: https://mjmallon.com/
MJ’s Top 10 Writing Tips
- Tip 1. Cherish books they are your raison d’etre! Read in as many genres as you can, not just the genre you are writing in. So, for instance if you write fantasy, don’t be afraid to read romance, horror, poetry, etc… There may be passages in your fantasy novel that touch upon romance, horror… scenes… If you don’t read widely, you will find it harder to convey what you intend with the same fluency. Reading will increase your vocabulary and teach you about different styles of writing. Reading is fun!
- Tip 2. Be you, don’t try to be someone else. Write the story that is in your heart and remember to write a tale that will keep your readers engaged throughout. So, focus on your passions, your interests, and your loves. Try to be different, don’t write to a rigid formula. Conjure up something that your readers will admire you for.
- Tip 3. Don’t give up. This one is so important. As a new writer you will get a ton of knock backs from agents, publishers, and readers. Some reviewers will hate your book, others will love it. Just take it all on the chin and try to see the humour in those annoying reviews. That is what I try to do, it is mighty difficult but a necessary component of being an author.
- Tip 4. Imagine your characters talking to you, bring them to life! Sit down and have a chit chat. Hear their voices, ask them to tell you their deepest, darkest secrets. Characters are at the heart of a story so develop yours and make them as multi-faceted as you can.
- Tip 5. Give your villains a vulnerable side. This point flows on from tip 4. For instance, your murderer loves the elderly widow down the road, his school friend, his mum, his cat, or his dog, show his or her human but ugly side too.
- Tip 6. Don’t be afraid to find beta/early readers. This is crucial! You must find author friends, (not your mum, dad, or your best pal – unless they are bookworms and brutally honest,) who will give honest and constructive feedback. Try not to be put off by the feedback. Once you’ve done this, I’d recommend hiring an editor to do the final read through. An accomplished editor will see the detail that you miss and I’m not just talking about punctuation.
- Tip 7. Find your tribe. Super important too, for this you will undoubtedly need some form of social media, whatever floats your boat: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, and a blog. I’d recommend that you join Facebook groups that help support authors. There are lots of groups, remember if you help others, they will often help you. Be generous as you can with the time you have. Try to review other authors’ books and share their successes too.
- Tip 8. If something you’ve written doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t destroy that early draft keep it for later. Try different forms of writing, start small – short stories, flash fiction, poetry. Keep on going, add to your body of work until you become more well known. Maybe that early fledgling idea will receive more interest in time. Don’t despair.
- Tip 9. Have fun, remember to leave the house! Go for walks, observe people and the environment they are in, watch their mannerisms: the way they speak and dress. Try to snoop around surreptitiously so no one accuses you of being too nosy! Take a tip from mindfulness and be fully present in the moment. Then you will catch those weird and unusual quirks: a green toy dinosaur held captive in a fence next to a pigeon coop! Yes, I really did see this recently.
- Tip 10. Don’t let other people knock your confidence. If someone knocks you down, (figuratively, or in reality,) be as brave as you can be. If you aren’t too injured emotionally or physically get up and get away to safety or do what you can to restore your confidence. Go back to the scene of the crime so to speak, meet your demons head on. It’s hard but you must be brave. Remember that every experience can be a fund to draw on for writers. Writing is about life in all its extraordinary colours.
Connect with MJ here:
Find all of MJ Mallon’s books here:
Next Chapter Publishing
YA Fantasy: The Curse of Time Book1: Bloodstone
YA Fantasy: The Curse of Time Book 2: Golden Healer
Poetry, Prose and Photography: Mr. Sagittarius
An anthology during covid: This Is Lockdown
Poetry during Lockdown – Lockdown Innit
Short Stories in Anthologies:
Bestselling horror compilations
Nightmareland compiled by Dan Alatorre
“Scrabble Boy” (Short Story)
Spellbound compiled by Dan Alatorre
“The Twisted Sisters” (Short Story)
Wings & Fire compiled by Dan Alatorre
“The Great Pottoo” (Short Story)