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The Writer’s Workshop with Nicci French

Crime writer duo Nicci French are the authors in residence at the Dead Good Fiction Festival today! They have shared some tips on the creative writing process for our afternoon Writer’s Workshop.

Over to Nicci and Sean:

A Few Rules:

1. Do It Now.

Not tomorrow, not after a bit more research, not when you’re ready, not when you’ve got more time.

There are many obstacles to getting an agent, finding a publisher, getting reviewed, finding readers. The one guarantee is that your book won’t get published if you haven’t written it.

Five hundred words a day isn’t very much. If you manage that, you can write and revise a good-sized book inside a year.

2. Write Your Own Book.

Needless to say, you’re a passionate reader, like all writers. And you may love Georges Simenon or Elmore Leonard or Ian Rankin or Val McDermid and when you read a book you love, a part of you thinks: I’d like to do that. But don’t. They can write their own books. What you need to write is the book that needs to be in the world and the one that only you can write. Of course, you’re writing for readers, but what book readers love most is the book they didn’t know they wanted until they read it.

3. Endings

Obviously a book needs a crazily fascinating, gripping, enticing opening. Without that, nobody is going to read your book at all. But too many writers don’t pay as much attention to the ending. Unfortunately, readers do. This doesn’t mean every story has to end with a twist. But think about those last ten pages, which are what the reader will remember as they close the book. If your imaginary reader isn’t saying, ‘well, that was more than I was expecting’, then you need to do some hard thinking.

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