Good Writing Tips – from The Guardian

Posted on May 29, 2017 in Copywriting

GREAT writing tips below, from an article ‘Take the First Step’ by the novelist and professor of creative writing, Colum McCann (The Guardian, 13 May 2017) – relevant for writing non-fiction as well as fiction.

 

Your first line

‘It should plunge your reader into something urgent, interesting, informative.  It should move your story, your poem, your play, forward. It should whisper in your readers’ ear that everything is about to change.’

 

The terror of the white page

‘Don’t worry so much about the word count as the word cut.’

‘Writers have to have the stamina of world-class athletes.  The exhaustion of sitting in the one place. The errors. The retrieval. The mental taxation. The dropping of the bucket down into the new empty well, over and over again.  Moving a word around a page … Questioning it …  Shifting it around again and again …  than Not conceding victory to the negative… Dusting yourself off.  Sustaining what you have inherited from the previous days of work.’

 

Structure

‘Structure is essentially a container for content.  The shape into which your story gets is a house slowly built from the foundation up.  Or maybe it’s a tunnel, or a skyscraper, or a palace, or even a moving caravan ….’

 

Punctuation

‘Sometimes it’s the life or death of a sentence.’

‘Parentheses in fiction draw far too much attention to themselves.’

‘The language of the street eventually becomes the language of the schoolhouse.’

 

Your last line

‘Try if possible to finish in the concrete, with an action, a movement, to carry the reader forward.’

‘Your last line is the first line for everybody else.’

‘Allow your reader to walk out from the last line and into her own imagination.’

‘Don’t tie it (your story) up to neatly.  Don’t try too much … Have faith that your reader has already gone with you on a long journey.  They know where you have been.  They know what they have learnt.  They know already that life is dark you don’t have to flooded with last minute light.’

 

All good advice!!