Writing tips from authors

Who better to give you advice about penning a masterpiece than published authors themselves?

Literary stars including Patrick Ness, Sarah J Maas, Matt Haig and Joyce Dunbar have all revealed their secrets, tips and hints to help you start, fine tune and even publish your masterpiece.

Explore their writing tips below for advice about creating picture books, getting started with poetry, how to write comedy, ways to turn your own life experiences into a story and much, much more.

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Patrick Ness's guide to writing

Patrick Ness guides you through the complete writing process, from getting inspiration to getting published.

Finding a publisher, by Louise Walters

Author Louise Walters shares her tips on finding a publisher.

25 rules for writing a novel, by Matt Haig

How To Stop Time author Matt Haig shares his top 25 rules for writing a novel.

Advice to young writers, by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass author Sarah J Maas shares her writing tips for young people after publishing her first novel online at the age of 16.

Writing historical fiction, by Cora Harrison

Cora Harrison, author of Debutantes and I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend, shares her tips for writing historical fiction.

How technology can help you write, by Nikesh Shukla

Author Nikesh Shukla explains how he balances a day job and writing, all thanks to technology and cloud computing.

Joyce Dunbar's guide to writing picture books

Joyce Dunbar shares her 12-step guide to writing a good picture book.

Blog your head off, by Jean Hannah Edelstein

Author Jean Hannah Edelstein shares her five top tips for writing a successful blog.

How to write comedy, by Tiernan Douieb

Tiernan Douieb shares his advice for turning your jokes into quality comedy writing.

Why there are no rules, by Clare Wigfall

Our former Writer in Residence Clare Wigfall offers her thoughts on getting started in writing.

Writing short stories, by Stuart Evers

Stuart Evers shares his top tips about writing short stories, from inspiration to practice.

Five mistakes I made whilst trying to get published

Adam Marek shares the biggest errors he made while trying to succeed as a writer.

David Vann's advice on writing short stories

David Vann shares the thought process he has when he is writing short stories.

Seven motivational tools every writer needs

Adam Marek offers his tips on staying focused while writing your masterpiece.

What makes a good poem?

Former BookTrust Writer in Residence Nii Ayikwei Parkes shares his thoughts on what makes a good poem.

How to turn your memories into a story

Karen McCarthy Woolf explains how you can turn your own experiences into a great story.

Michèle Roberts' three big tips

Michèle Roberts offers her advice on finding inspiration and conquering writers' block.

Five-second secrets to being a writer, by Anna McKerrow

Anna McKerrow reveals the two secrets every budding writer needs to know and shares some exercises.

Researching your family tree

Ancestors editor Simon Fowler shares his tips on researching your family tree and getting started with genealogy.

Successful storytelling, by Vera Waters

Author Vera Waters offers 10 top tips for keeping children engaged when you're telling a story.

What writers say

Why I write poetry

Andrew Motion

Poetry is at once a very primitive and a very subtle thing – an expression of our fundamental and passionate delight in rhythms, sounds and patterns, and also of our more sophisticated need for ingenuity. It is the form which puts us most deeply in touch with ourselves, which connects us with the wider world, and which also helps us prove our sense of the numinous.

Andrew Motion


Three golden rules

Sherrie Hewson

Keep your writing succinct, simple and truthful. Readers don’t want fussy details. They don’t want to know what shoes you were wearing when you were crossing the road – they want to know what happened when you crossed to the other side!

Sherrie Hewson

Novelist and actress

Write what matters to you

Malorie Blackman

My best piece of advice is to write what you care about. Write about something that thrills you or makes you intensely angry or afraid or happy or sad. Then those feelings will shine through in every word you write.

Malorie Blackman

Children's Laureate 2013-2015

Always carry pen and paper

My one useful tip is to always have pencil and paper handy, and when a memory or idea comes into your mind, jot it down. Don’t worry about spelling or repetition, or grammar – that can all be corrected when you write it. Just get the idea down and save it before it disappears. I’ve even added things to my shopping list when I’ve seen something on a supermarket shelf that reminds me of my childhood. The important thing is to capture a memory before it flies away.

Joyce Head

Reading poetry aloud

After you've written the first draft of your poem, my advice would be to ask someone else to read it out loud. This helps you to see the points at which your poem stumbles or where your language sounds forced. It's also a very good way to see whether your poem is funny! I like to write poetry using everyday, spoken language, and listening to it read aloud can help you check whether you're achieving this.

Rosemary Gregory

BookTrust HomeTime

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