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.
Patrick Ness guides you through the complete writing process, from getting inspiration to getting published.
Author Louise Walters shares her tips on finding a publisher.
How To Stop Time author Matt Haig shares his top 25 rules for writing a novel.
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.
Cora Harrison, author of Debutantes and I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend, shares her tips for writing historical fiction.
Author Nikesh Shukla explains how he balances a day job and writing, all thanks to technology and cloud computing.
Joyce Dunbar shares her 12-step guide to writing a good picture book.
Author Jean Hannah Edelstein shares her five top tips for writing a successful blog.
Tiernan Douieb shares his advice for turning your jokes into quality comedy writing.
Our former Writer in Residence Clare Wigfall offers her thoughts on getting started in writing.
Stuart Evers shares his top tips about writing short stories, from inspiration to practice.
Adam Marek shares the biggest errors he made while trying to succeed as a writer.
David Vann shares the thought process he has when he is writing short stories.
Adam Marek offers his tips on staying focused while writing your masterpiece.
Former BookTrust Writer in Residence Nii Ayikwei Parkes shares his thoughts on what makes a good poem.
Karen McCarthy Woolf explains how you can turn your own experiences into a great story.
Michèle Roberts offers her advice on finding inspiration and conquering writers' block.
Anna McKerrow reveals the two secrets every budding writer needs to know and shares some exercises.
Ancestors editor Simon Fowler shares his tips on researching your family tree and getting started with genealogy.
Author Vera Waters offers 10 top tips for keeping children engaged when you're telling a story.
Why I write poetry
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.
Three golden rules
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!
Write what matters to you
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.
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.
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.
Looking for something fun as a family? Enjoy storytime with our free online books and videos, play games, win prizes, test your knowledge in our book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters.