How They Do It (Writing Tips from the Best)

Each of us has our own way of working. While some of us work best leisurely, some of us produce our best under pressure. But here is a compilation of writing practices the best novelists of our era say they swear by.

Let’s start with Lord Jeffrey Archer. Archer is a cut above most novelists, since it wouldn’t be misleading to say he introduced a new style to writing. A gentle, soft, mildly sarcastic tone that is the staple of his novels. No outrageous writings, no long-winding, verbose sentences. Who can forget the matter-of-fact prose which keeps you hooked and later makes you wonder how he managed it. The first of the tips is from this gentleman-

1. Discipline

“For example, I write from 6-8am, 10-12am, 2-4pm, 6-8pm. I keep that routine up for 40-50 days and handwrite every word. I then take a break and go back to it again a month later.”

That’s commitment for you.

The next one from the lady who made our childhood absolutely magical. J K Rowling’s story from a penniless woman living off state benefits to a billionaire author is one of the most inspiring stories ever. And here’s what she has to say-

 2. Re-Write

JKR re-wrote the first chapter of Harry Potter fifteen times before she finally declared herself satisfied. Write. Again and again and again till your text is tight and cannot get any more perfect.

The man who keeps you guessing and in perpetual fear of your favorite character being knocked off-George R.R. Martin has many tips to offer.

3. Read, Read and Read

“The most important thing for any aspiring writer, I think, is to read! And not just the sort of thing you’re trying to write, be that fantasy, SF, comic books, whatever. You need to read everything. Read fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers. Read history, historical fiction, biography. Read mystery novels, fantasy, SF, horror, mainstream, literary classics, erotica, adventure, satire. Every writer has something to teach you, for good or ill. (And yes, you can learn from bad books as well as good ones — what not to do).”

4. Details

“…I want to read books that are richly textured and full of sensory detail, books that make me feel as if I am experiencing a story, not just reading it. Plot is only one aspect of telling a tale, and not the most important one. It is the journey that matters, not how fast you arrive at the destination.”

We move on to America’s favorite author, the master of aphorisms, Mark Twain, whose books have irrevocably shaped a whole generation.

5. Audience

“I conceive that the right way to write a story for boys is to write so that it will not only interest boys but strongly interest any man who has ever been a boy. That immensely enlarges the audience.”

Well said, don’t you think?

Also, this was a man who was against the usage of adverbs. Along with Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain was one of the writers who advocated reduced usage of adverbs and adjectives.

6. Kill the Adverbs and Adjectives

“..When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”

JKR also believes in this concept and has said she wishes she could go back and slash all the adverbs from her earlier books.

7. Work on Your Writing

Even if you’re not working on a novel or a blog post, get some writing done every day. Learn about new techniques of writing like E-Prime and use writing prompts to practice every day. As Vladimir Nabokov, the author of ‘Lolita’ says, you need to get to a point where you think-

“Ink, a Drug.”

And finally, to end things, a quote by Jeffrey Archer on one of my most favorite authors ever!

8. Write on familiar topics

“Don’t do vampires, wizards or ghosts because they’re in fashion. Jane Austen wrote about family life in a small village and gave us six of the greatest novels ever written.”

Get your writing caps on and write the right way, all you amazing people!


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