Things I wish I’d known when I wrote my first novel – Part 1


How hard it is to finish writing a book.

When you start your first novel you’ll be in love with the whole idea, not only with your concept for the story but the fact that you are going to be a real AUTHOR! Your books will be in Waterstones, you’ll earn as much a JK Rowling, fans will ask you to sign their copies of your book …

Sorry, this probably won’t happen.

How difficult it can be to find an agent

However brilliantly you’ve written your synopsis and the first three chapters, you’re unlikely to find an agent to take you on until you’ve finished writing your novel. An agent needs to see, not only that you write beautifully but that it’s complete. And they need to know your characters are properly developed, all the plot twists and turns are tied up and that there is a satisfying conclusion.

Find out Five tips to secure an agent here:

That you must have a plot. 

This sounds obvious but it’s surprising how many would-be novelists start to write without any real idea of where they’re going. Unfortunately, the Muse doesn’t always turn up and sit on your shoulder to guide you towards a brilliant ending.

Find out more on outlining your novel here:

 That the main character must have a strong goal.

And someone else must be doing their best to prevent her achieving it. Does your character change during the course of the story? Will your readers be able to identify with your characters and their problems?

Find out more on creating characters your readers will love at:

 You have to cut out the boring bits.

Your reader isn’t interested in finding out your hero’s morning bathroom routine or how many cups of tea your heroine drinks every day. You don’t have to minutely describe every moment. Read extensively and see how other authors make the transition from scene to scene.

Read here how to make your book unputtdownable:

It’s normal to fall out of love with your novel when you hit 30,000 words.

Your novel has grown from a cute baby idea into a difficult pre-teen that won’t do what it should. You have to stop yelling at your lap-top and carry on writing, regardless. Write when you don’t feel like it and finish the damn thing. One day you will realise your novel has grown up and, after some editing, you’ll fall in love with it again.

Read here how to deal with ‘saggy middle’:

The first draft will be crappy.

Everyone writes a crappy first draft. Don’t stress about it. The idea is down on paper and now you have the chance to hone it. Good writing is in the editing.

Here are five ways to start editing your novel:

 That all the hard work will, eventually, be worth it. 

Even if it turns out that no one wants to publish your current masterpiece, nothing takes away from the huge achievement of actually finishing your novel. So many writers don’t.

You will have learned more than you think from the process and the next one (yes, get on with it now!) will teach you something new.

And that one might be a bestseller.

In ‘Things I wish I’d known when I published my first novel – part 2’, I’ll be gathering words of advice from published authors Deborah Swift, Alison Morton, Carol McGrath and Denise Barnes. read part 2 here

The Dressmaker’s Secret is to be published in paperback on 9th November 2017.

Pre-order now

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