Tag Archives: Writing tips

Ooo, new blog schedule announcement…

Photo of a DiaryAfter a lot of requests, I’m announcing the reinstatement of my Diary of a Hopeful Author blog posts.

I’ve been asked a whole heap, see, about what it’s like to be an author. For three years I documented what it was like, that roller coaster journey to trying to get published – the highs, the lows, the aching embarrassments – all of it. No picnic, that’s for sure.

A lot of you have got in touch and asked me if its different now, being an author. And for that reason – and because, if I’m honest, I miss that blog connection, that getting it all out there to help each other – I’m reintroducing my diary of  hopeful author section.

Its going to be (hopefully…) posted every Wednesday as before, in diary form about what I’m up to that week writing wise on the roller coaster of publication. I’ll aim to get some help sewn in there for you, tips on getting published and diary entries of an honest account of what it’s like to be an author these days. Let me know if it’s handy.

Also, I’m reintroducing Media Monday and Friday Fiction. Monday will see me writing my new Midlife Crisis column, where Friday will take up, yep, you’ve guessed it,  fiction. I’ll include my own writing and prose, plus comments on newly published books, old masterpieces, libraries – you name it.

So there you go. It’s less ‘out with the old in the with new’, and more ‘in with the old just dusted down and spruced up a bit’. A blog makeover. A new set of  clothes…Okay, I’ll stop.

I do have a whizzy author website now (there’s hidden quiz – good luck finding it…) dedicated to my books. You can find it here.

It’s great to be back like this with you all in, if your pardon the pun, a new chapter for the blog – just hoping I can stick to the schedule – forgive me it all wobbles from time to time.

Have a great week, blog buddies 🙂

Nikki x

Sound good? Or is there something else you’d like me to write about in my experience of getting published & being an author? Let me know – all comments welcome below 🙂

Top five writing tips: How to create great characters #amwriting

Top 5 writing tipstop5


This week: Writing great characters

I’m right in the sticky depths of book two of the Spider trilogy. 68k words in and I am flagging. But fear not! The characters, you see, to me, to my mind – it is all about the characters. And when you get them right, the whole book comes alive and suddenly, tapping on that computer becomes a tad easier.

So here you go. Top five tips for writing great characters:

1. Know ’em. By creating a full biography. I mean FULL. Just like you know your best mate or your spouse, you need to now your characters. Every detail, every nook and cranny. This makes them rounded, real – and easer to write. No bio = no character.

2. Imagine what they’d look like. I have pictures ripped from magazines & printed from websites of faces I imagine my characters would look like. This works especially well for the protagonist.

3. Empathy. You need to have an identification with your characters, not just from you, but, of course, ultimately, from the reader, too. For this you need to create empathy. Empathy is recognising a tad of yourself in the character. Once we can do that, the writing – and reading – flows.

4. Sympathy. This means ensuring that, in some way, your protagonist is human. We have to like what we see in at least a small amount, even if you don’t like other bits of the character. Amy from Gone Girl? She is a total psycho, but I like her ‘don’t care what you think’ attitude. See?

5. Be authentic. The reader is real and, therefore, so must be your character. Reader’s aren’t daft – heck, you are not daft. So why fudge a character or try to pretend on the page that this person is a certain way when that cannot actually be the case? Just tell it as it (really) is and you’re on to a winner.


Any top tips on writing great characters? Great! Share them with the group!



Top 5 writing tips: PD James tips for writing novels #amwriting

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This week: PD James’ novel writing tips

The author PD James sadly passed away last month. She was an amazing woman. After having her first novel published in her forties, she never looked back, writing over 20 crime novels, many of which were adapted for film and TV.

Crime author PD James
Crime author PD James

She was a hard worker, the type of writer to simply get on with it. I discovered her novels through my father in law, and so when I heard of her passing, I looked up her works and found a web page interview where she talks of her top tips for writing novels.

Below, I have chosen my favourite five, ones that, to me, really resonate. To get a full list of PD James’ top ten, I’ve popped a link below. Read, enjoy. And write.

Top 5 PD James writing tips:

1. Find your own routine. Are you a morning person or evening? A lark or an owl? Figure out what time of the day you work best at and stick to it – you’ll be at your most productive. Works like a charm.

2. Read, write and don’t daydream. This one speaks for itself, although, don’t let the ‘don’t daydream’ bit put you off. This, to me, simply means don’t procrastinate. Daydreaming in its actual form can, in fact, help the creative process, aid the flow of ideas when, say, you are stuck on a tricky scene. Basically, just get on with it.

3. Never go anywhere without a notebook. Yup, deffo. Ditto iPhone with notepad function – works equally well.

4. Never talk about a book before it’s finished. Agree. Because it may change, you may edit it to within an inch of its life. Until you are certain you’re 100% happy (until an editor gets hold of it…) keep shtum.

5. Be aware that the business is changing. Publishing is different even from when I was a kid. To me, change is a good thing, something to be embraced and capitalised on. No moaning about e-books or self-publishing. Nope. Instead, simply say, ‘Oh, okay. Great.’ Then adapt and crack right on. The results may surprise you.


For the link to the interview with PD James for her full top ten tips, click here


Any top tips on cracking your writer’s style? Great! Share them with the group!

**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Top five writing tips: How to make scenes real #amwriting #NaNoWriMo2014

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This week: How to make scenes real

Writing fiction, ironically, is all about keeping it real. And by this, I mean making stuff up. Confused? Let me explain. When we think of a room, we don’t recall it as a building or a space or a room. Nope. We remember the room as warm or with white walls, with leather seats or flowery curtains. If we reflect on past events in our lives and look closer, we come to understand that what makes them real in our mind are the sounds, sights and feel of things. So to make your scenes real in your book, this is what you have to do. You have to paint the real picture.

And so to the top 5 of keeping it real…

1. Show don’t tell. You want to recreate a scene, not describe it. Show us what the character can see in that room or countryside or beach setting. So, instead of “I arrived nervously at the old house near the sea” (telling), say “I arrived at the cottage, white washed walls, flowers in broken pots by the door. I stood at the end of the path, hand on the peeling gate, waiting, shaking. I inhaled, tried to steady myself, the faint lap of the waves, the squall of the seagulls all singing like a lullaby in my ears.” (showing).

2. Practice describing colours. Sounds nuts, but it works. Imagine you are describing the colour red, for example, to a blind person. How would you do that? Hot, scorching etc.

3. Give details not judgements. An author’s job is to give the facts then know when to step back so the readers can reach their own conclusions.

4. Names are everything. Its sounds minor, a name, but it means a heck of a lot. In real life, so much is attached to our names. On the page, a name connected to a character, a well thought through name, anchors the writer to the page. If the name is not well considered, the reader can sense that because the character does not, ultimately, feel real.

5. Visualise. Try to imagine what is in a scene. Close you eyes, picture the scene you are trying to write about. Now open your eyes. What details did you pick up on? What was the weather? The temperature? etc. Write it down as accurately as you can. I use this technique a lot when I feel a scene slipping away from me.


Any top tips on keeping your writing real? Great. Share them with the group.


**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Top five writing tips: How to find your writing style #amwriting #NaNoWriMo2014

Welcome to my new post: Top 5 writing tipstop5


This week: Finding your style

This has to be one of the most confusing elements of being a writer, I think. Certainly, when you’re starting out, style is something that feels elusive, like something others have but you never yourself quite know how to get.

And so we often end up copying others we admire, try to emulate their style. I know I’ve done this in the past. But thing is, get your own style, nail your individual writing nuance and what you end up with is something every writer, publisher – and reader – wants: a unique voice.

So fear not! Here are some top tips that I used myself to help crack my style. Give them a go, see how you fair. Good luck.

1. Read a piece of your writing aloud and in your mind. Mark out any dodgy bits, anything that sounds clunky. Then rewrite, re-read aloud, see if it sounds better. Repeat several times until you get a flow.

2. Knock out those adverbs and adjectives. These are like parsley garnish on a steak – unnecessary. What they can do is cloud your real style. We use them because we think we have to, but we don’t. Challenge yourself.

3. Go a bit further with this and write a piece, say 500 words, with absolutely no adverbs or adjectives in. It will be tricky at first, but it will get you style flowing, dancing, almost, off the page. Honest.

4. Don’t write. Trust me. Instead, sit back and just close your eyes. Then think. Think what you want to say. Take your main character, for example, imagine what they have to talk about, what scene they are in. Visualise it, every turn, every nook, smell, sight.

5. Now open you eyes and write what you have just seen. Don’t dither, don’t doubt or question yourself, just get it out. Try this several times and see how you can reach a steady flow of your own style.


Any top tips on cracking your writer’s style? Great! Share them with the group!



**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

NEW POST: Top five writing tips #amwriting

Welcome to my new post: Top 5 writing tips!top5

How’s you? You like change, right? Well, me too. And so to this new post. Top 5 writing tips is here to  replace my previous ‘Diary of a hopeful author’ a) because tis time for, you know, a change, and b) I’m so busy (disorganised) this is a quicker route to me still blogging to you.

The reason, though, for this change malarky, is good. Honest. My thriller book The Spider In The Corner Of The Room is due out next Spring/Summer 2015 around the world, and my head is absorbed in writing book 2 now of the trilogy. But not a lass to forget anyone, I had to rethink the blog thing so I could, well, keep in touch. And, ta-da! Enter the top 5 tips. See? Hmmm….

So, every Wednesday, I’ll attempt to post my top 5 writing tips of the week related to where I am in my own writing process, sort of. You get the idea. I’ll give each tip post a theme, basically, and hope it gives you a literary leg up, as it were. So, without further a do, here goes on the first one. Cue drum roll…


TOP 5 WRITING TIPS: Writer’s block

Stuck in a writing rut & can’t get out of your funk? Me too! Here’s my top 5 tips on how to get your writing mojo back….

  1. Get out! Go on. Go! Sometimes just getting some fresh air can reboot the brain, helps you think through ideas. I like a run…
  2. Tell yourself positive things. Keep saying ‘I can’t do this?’ Stop! Now. You hear? Now write down positive stuff that you can keep referring to, like ‘Yes, I can’ (thanks, Barack) or, ‘If others can, so can I’. You get the idea.
  3. Just write anything. And I mean anything. We try to get it right first time, but that’s not really required. It’s easy to edit a full page of words than a blank one. Who cares if it sucks first time round? Mine always does. So just get it out then edit later. That can sometimes kick start things.
  4. End the day in the middle of a scene. This will maintain momentum, even leaving an unfinished sentence can kickstart the next day’s writing.
  5. Give yourself a break. If all else fails, walk away, come back later. Just like an athlete, too much training will wear you out. Take a break, regroup, have a party – whatever it takes – then go back. You’ll feel refreshed. And perhaps slightly hungover. You’re welcome!


Any top tips on writer’s block? Great! Share them with the group!



**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**