Monday, 9 November 2009

Writing Advice: What Works for Me? by Author Jon Mayhew

What Works for Me?

by Guest Blogger:
Jon Mayhew.

Tracy asked me to give some writing tips and advice for her blog. “Writing tips? Advice? Me? Why?” I said.

Could be something to do with the fact that you were picked up earlier this year by Bloomsbury? Your first book Mortlock comes out April next year?” Tracy replied.

Fair enoughski, I thought. (A veiled reference to my recent Russian deal…had I mentioned that? Tee hee).

So, here are things that work for me. (Brief fanfare).

1)  Bum on seat. An old chestnut but if you’re wandering around dusting or hovering, shopping or sky-diving, you aren’t getting the wordcount up.

2)  Once Bum is on seat switch off internet. Another oldie but goodie but Facebook isn’t writing a book and blogging doesn’t get the wordcount up either.

3)  Neither does Twitter.

4)  Brainstorm your ideas. Scribble anything down. I’ve been doing this with Book 3 while I wait for Book 2 to ‘bake’ (I’ll explain that later). A mind map of anything to do with your initial idea or character can throw up some wild ideas and take your story to another level.

5)  Have a plan. Know where you’re going, roughly. A map is useful. You might find roads flooded, bridges down a more pleasant detour on the way but have a good idea of your final destination before you set out.

6)  Write the book first. One of my big faults is that I write Chapter 1 fifteen times and then start again. Having to be more disciplined about writing, I’ve found that taking the story right through to its bitter end and noting problems on the way helps productivity.

7)  Write the scenes that excite you first. I nicked this from Sally Nicholls on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure but it was great fun. Write the exciting scenes, the important scenes first. That way you don’t get bogged down in a plodding linear text. The down side is you have to go back and jigsaw it all together later.

8)  Know your characters. How would they react to different situations? Would they want to lead? To hide? To follow? Would they follow and then grumble when it all goes wrong? What are their physical habits? Are they nail biters? Nose pickers? Hair chewers? Hummers? Twitchers? Scratchers? Ummers? Ermers? How do you show that? My two main protagonists in Mortlock are forever bickering, even now, a fraction of their arguments got onto the page.

9)  Leaving my work to ‘bake’ is crucial for me. I get so caught up in the story and the characters that I have to leave the writing and not touch it for a while. This can be anything from a week to a month. It’s agonising but it lets you look at the work with fresh eyes.

10)  A robust and friendly crit circle or writing buddy is invaluable but you need someone who will challenge you and you have to be able to take it too. Similarly, a good literary consultant is worth considering if you can afford it.

And finally, ask yourself, ‘Why am I writing this?
You write for fun anyway, right?
You enjoy writing, yes?

Good. That’ll keep you from going insane during the submissions process!

Tall tales & short stories will be bringing you an interview with Jon Mayhew in the very near future. So, please do watch this space.

In the meantimeyou can also find Jon at his blog

1 comment:

Candy Gourlay said...

hey jon, our working methods are so similar down to the mind mapping! we must be twins! i am so excited about your book!

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