Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day

Here, in no particular order, is my top ten list of common mistakes in unpublished (and unpublishable) manuscripts, on a scale of ‘Don’t do this’ to ‘For the love of god, no!’ In my early authorial career, I’m pretty sure I did all of these myself ... I’m writing here of structural and technical issues in the narrative itself, whatever the genre.

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How to Write a Novel

The word ‘narrative’ comes from the Latin verb narrare, ‘to tell,’ which is derived from the adjective gnarus, meaning ‘knowing’ or ‘skilled,’ so a ‘narrative’ is a telling by someone that knows what happened, and has the ability to tell it well. In a novel, the narrative can be usefully broken down into the following components …

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Writing Historical Fiction

Writing historical fiction offers a unique set of challenges: How far should you let the historical record dictate your own plot? Should you dramatize famous historical figures, or should your central character or characters be fictional? How do you build a lost world in the pages of your book? This is also a task that requires meticulous research ...

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Trust Me, I'm a Book Doctor

When I consider the sheer volume of creative writing courses, masterclasses, retreats, manuscript assessment and ‘author solutions’ services currently available to aspiring authors (for example when I can’t sleep), I am often reminded of the rapid rise of Spiritualism, a process that Augustus De Morgan likened to the spread of smallpox.

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Good and Bad Sex in Fiction

Accept that you’ll need to do a lot of re-drafting. A good sex scene can give your novel a bit of sizzle, but, just like the real thing, it can also go horribly wrong, so always be ready with the blue pencil. As Kenneth Williams was fond of saying, ‘Whenever see innuendo in a script I whip it out immediately.’

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Ten Creative Writing Tips from Edgar Allan Poe

Sensations are the great things after all. Should you ever be drowned or hung, be sure and make a note of your sensations — they will be worth to you ten guineas a sheet. If you wish to write forcibly … pay minute attention to the sensations.

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Becoming Your Own Editor

You can pay someone else to do all this, but the serious writer should be able to edit for themselves. There aren’t any short cuts – you really do have to work through your text line by line. Here are some of the common problems you should be hunting down and fixing...

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Between Workshops

It was an absolute joy watching these books come together, and every one of them – from the early stage ideas to the almost full first drafts – is now closer to completion, the authors more confident and in control of the material, than they were when they started.

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