Joss Stirling

Tips for Writers

I often get asked if I can give any tips for young writers. You will find your own way, but these are some of the things that have helped me.

Top Three Tips

• Keep on writing through until end of first draft without worrying about getting it absolutely right - you can always go back once you've got the whole story down.

• Keep a notebook to hand - you never know when an idea may come to you or you will spot something you want to remember.

• Enjoy writing for its own sake as publication is a hit and miss affair.

More advice if you need it...

• Experiment with using non-fiction to enrich your stories. I find more inspiration in reading fact than I do other novels, particularly history.

• Read widely - you never know where the next inspirational idea might come from.

• Be original. Most would-be writers go through a stage of imitation but the trick is to break free and dream up your own kind of stories using your own voice.

• Try your work out on an audience, reading aloud. It helps hone your prose style as you'll soon hear the bits that don't quite work.

• Cut ruthlessly - if you doubt a section, it probably needs to go.

• Enter competitions for young writers. You'll get read by professionals and, of course, you may win. This is a more realistic goal than going straight to sending to publishers. Very few manuscripts get picked off the so-called 'slush pile' of books sent in by newcomers. Don't let me put you off, but I wouldn't want to set you up for disappointment.

• And did I say, enjoy the writing? That's what really matters.