Author Phyllis Dorothy James developed a love of writing in early childhood; however, she did not get her first novel published until she was 42 years old. James is a crime writer who has written more than 20 novels, including the Adam Dalgleish mystery series and The Children of Men. Phyllis is now 93 years old and states that she wants to write another detective novel. If you would like to write a novel, but don’t know where to start, continue reading. Phyllis Dorothy James offers her top ten tips on how to become an author.
Writers Are Born, Not Made
A person cannot be taught how to beautifully string words together to create a novel that people will enjoy reading. People can be taught the mechanics of the English language. You can offer tips on how to write a novel. However, if a person does not have natural writing talent, they will not make a good writer. It just doesn’t work that way.
Just like no one can turn me into a musician, I cannot turn someone into a writer. Another musician may be able to teach me how to play a guitar or a piano, but they cannot turn me into a musician. Music, as well as writing, requires natural talent.
Write What You Know
You should write about things that you know a lot about. Life is filled with small experiences and lessons that you should store and use in your books. Writers learn that everything they experience in life should be used in their works of fiction. You must learn to pay attention to everything going on around you. For example, if I experience pain or happiness, I will store the memories and refer to them sometime in the future and use the experience.
One of the best experiences is when people are thrown together during an emergency. During this time a variety of emotions can bubble up. I refer back to these instances when I am writing a novel. In order for your writing to appear genuine, you must write what you feel and let those emotions come through naturally. The best writers are ones who feel words and knows how to use them. When they are able to do this, a publisher will want to get your book published. Everyone gets old and dies; so, there is always a demand for new writers in the marketplace.
Develop Your Own Unique Routine
I think it is very interesting how each write is unique. This uniqueness should be used to the writer’s advantage.
Some people have to write by hand and need a quiet space to write. Others prefer to write on a computer amidst the hustle and bustle of day to day life. I write by hand and write almost anywhere. As long as I have a comfortable chair and unlimited supply of pens and lined paper I am ready to write. After I have written a part of my novel, my personal assistant comes in the following day and I dictate what I have written for her. She then types it on the computer, prints it out and I do my first revision.
So, in a sense, I revise my writing as I go. For me, it is important to get up early. The quiet of the morning, before the city wakes and telephone calls and emails begin coming in, is the best time for me to write.
The Publishing World is Always Changing
With the numerous technological advances in the world, the publishing industry has changed. It is now much easier to produce a manuscript. With all these advances, it is even more important to hire an agent to represent you to publishers. The landscape of publishing has changed so much that now writers are able self-publish their own novels. In the past, I thought self-publishing was self-defeating. Now, however, publishers are continually scouring self-published articles looking for writers. There are many examples of publishers finding self-published authors and offering them very lucrative deals.
The Importance of Reading Other Authors
In order to write well, you should read a wide variety of genres. Look at each author’s writing style and try to determine why they were successful. It is important not to copy their style, but just to learn from it. Also, you need to begin writing and stop daydreaming about writing. We learn the art of writing by actually writing. Nothing ever gets done by staring at an empty page and willing the words to appear. It honestly doesn’t matter what you write as long as you are writing consistently. Whether you write a short story, begin working on a novel or write an article for a magazine or newspaper, the act of writing itself is essential. There is always room for improvement when it comes to writing so always try to learn more as your write. Don’t dream about or talk about writing a novel one day. Start today and get those words down on paper.
You Need to Learn to Love Yourself
The job of a writer is solitary; however, most writers do not feel loneliness. As a writer knows, time is valuable when you are writing. You get so involved in the lives of your characters that there isn’t time to feel loneliness. Most writers would never want to be surrounded by the chaos associated with a “normal” life. I understand that some people feel lonely; however, I have never felt that way myself.
Choosing a Great Setting for Your Novel
When it comes to writing a novel, the setting is one of the most important things, in my opinion. I respond strongly to the overall “spirit and feeling of a setting”. When I was beginning to work on an idea for one of my novels, I stood on a lonely stretch of beach in East Anglia. I stood there with my eyes closed and listened to the sounds of the surf crashing onto the pebble shoreline. When I opened my eyes, I realized just how cold and dangerous the North Sea could be. This realization coupled with the lonely setting helped me to “see” the Sizewell nuclear power station. When I envisioned that, I knew I had the makings of a good novel. The name of that novel is Devices and Desires.
Always Carry a Notebook
It is essential that a write always has a notebook handy. You may see a face in the crowd that would be perfect for one the characters in your book or you may see a restaurant, building or location that would fit perfectly into your novel. In addition to this, you may have certain words that come to mind that you know you need to include in your novel. If you do not write these things down, you may forget important details. This is why I feel it is vital that you always carry a notebook with you.
Never Discuss Your Novel Before It Is Published
I never let anyone know anything about the book I am writing, nor do I show anyone my work until the novel is complete. Even then, the only people who see my work is my agent and my publisher. Waiting on the publisher to respond is grueling.
Know When It Is Time To Stop Writing
I have written a number of books and my life as a writer has been joyous. However, as I have become older, it has become more difficult to write. It takes longer for my inspiration to come to fruition; however, because I am a writer, I have this insatiable urge to write even at my age.
Right now, I am working on another detective story. I feel it is important that I write at least one more mystery before I stop writing.