Archive for category How to write a book

Masterclass in writing style and voice – Ep13 FREE podcast for writers

What do we mean when we talk about a writer’s voice or style? How do writers develop this? How might they make it distinctive? Might it change over the years or even from book to book? How can writers learn style from other authors… without sounding like a copy or pastiche? How do you find your true voice, your unique voice?

That’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode.

Asking the questions (or most of them) is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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All about reading groups and writing groups – Ep12 FREE podcast for writers

In this episode we’re spanning the entire spectrum of the book-reader continuum. What makes a good writing group? What makes a good reading group or book club? How do you organise such a group? How do you find a group that suits you? Should authors visit book groups or does it cramp everyone’s style? We have the answers!

Mu co-host is independent bookseller Peter Snell.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

 

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All about character arcs – Ep 11 FREE podcast for writers

Today we’re talking about character arcs. What is a character arc? What do we mean by that? Why do stories have arcs anyway? How do characters help you to develop a satisfying plot and vice versa? Can you write about people who aren’t like you? How might you apply this to non-fiction as well as fiction?

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books, especially my in-depth book on characters. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

 

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Masterclass in titles, book covers and spines – Ep 10 FREE podcast for writers

What makes a good title and cover? What mistakes do authors generally make when devising a book title and how can they get a title that does the job well? What job is that, indeed?

How about covers? What conventions do you need to consider for both? Why have we made a special point about spines? And can you discuss book covers on the radio?

Yes you can!

That’s what I’m covering in today’s episode, with my co-host, independent bookseller Peter Snell. I usually describe him as asking the questions, with me providing answers, but today it’s more the other way around. Titles, covers (and spines – don’t forget the spines) are areas where authors can be too close to the work. The opinion of a sage and experienced bookseller, though, comes into its own.

The editing of this episode seems to have gone a bit haywire. The radio station included some of the previous show, so scroll to about 8mins and you’ll find our theme tune (Wonderous Stories by Yes). Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books, especially the workbook, which includes a special section to help you brainstorm the perfect title. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Writing the first draft of your book – Ep 9 FREE podcast for writers

Ready, steady… write!

You’re out of the starting gates, pounding the keys or working the pen, head full of characters and plot and a big dream of a finished book. What do you need to know to keep going to the end?

That’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode – getting the first draft done, from start to finish. Also, the little things that might trip you up – and how to take them in your stride.

ANOTHER TIMESLIP NOTE! You might notice, when you start listening, that there are several references to NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month), which takes place in November. As ever, this is an artefact of when the show was first recorded, in the run-up to NaNoWriMo 2014. (More here about NaNoWriMo if you’re discovering this post at actual NaNoWriMo time, or you want more info on what it’s about.) But the advice is also good for starting any book at any time – the prep is still the same, and so are the obstacles and the techniques for dealing with them.

And if you’re tempted to NaNo, you could always bookmark this page and come back in autumn.

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Tools for writers, Word, Scrivener, good old-fashioned paper – Ep 8 FREE podcast for writers

Welcome back to So You Want To Be A Writer! This episode, we delve into the various tools a writer might use. And not just for the writing – for research, developing characters and plots, keeping track of what’s what in your story world. And a few apps that can stop you frittering away too much time in research rabbit-holes.

Now, I must introduce a caveat. I’ll explain it in beards.

Now. Pic by Monica Weller

Then, aka time of recording

So you see, a few wee years have passed since we taped the show. Certain writers’ apps were not yet invented, so if there’s one you want to shout about, do add it in the comments. But what hasn’t changed is methods – writers still have the same needs, the same problems to confront. And sometimes, there are times when the best tool is still a sheet of paper.

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you like this topic, here’s when a computer-loving writer prefers a pen.

If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Devising characters for your novel – Ep 7 FREE podcast for writers

What’s going to happen in your story? That might seem to be the key question. But there’s a question that’s even more important – who does it happen to?

In today’s episode, we talk about how to devise characters for a novel. Characters who’ll create the most interesting story for your plot situation, characters who’ll surprise the reader, characters who aren’t necessarily based on your own experience… it’s a huge subject.

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated advice on writing characters for fiction, try my Nail Your Novel books, especially Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated.

If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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How to plan a novel – Ep 6 FREE podcast for writers

Today we’re talking about writing fiction. How do you plan a novel before you start the writing? What should you think about to write an effective plan? Why is it worth doing this instead of letting your imagination fly wherever it wants? How much leeway should you leave for spur-of-the-moment inspiration? What are some of the secret plotting techniques that you could use to make the best use of your story idea?

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books, especially my workbook.

If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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How to plan a non-fiction book – Ep 5 FREE podcast for writers

Books are big. They turn out better if you plan before you write! Many yonks ago, in my first publishing job, my role was to plan and commission how-to books, deciding content, researching what readers needed, briefing contributors, shooting down the troubles that inevitably arose. Since then, I’ve also worked on a lot of the more creative kinds of non-fiction books, from memoirs to poetic journeys to travel narratives (here’s one I made earlier!).

I’ve put all that experience into today’s episode. Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Introduction to self-publishing – Ep 4 FREE podcast for writers

Last time, Peter and I gave a beginner’s guide to traditional publishing. In today’s episode we’re giving a starter for self-publishing.

A caveat! This show was recorded 5 years ago, August 2015, so some of our knowledge and discussions may appear a trifle quaint and out of date. However, the general trajectory of the self-publishing world is still the same – what started as a difficult and hazardous path has become increasingly easy and accessible, provided you know the pitfalls and also how to do a good job. Those considerations are the same as ever. For the most up-to-date self-publishing advice, follow this link to the Alliance of Independent Authors. But anything we said 5 years ago makes you snigger or bristle, do leave a note in the comments. It would be interesting to discuss what’s changed!

Asking the questions is the aforementioned Peter, independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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