Simon Beckett, author of the Dr David Hunter crime series, shares his top writing tips.
Find an approach that works for you
When you’re starting out it’s easy to think that there’s a right and wrong way of writing a novel. There isn’t. Some writers work best in a morning, some late at night, and while some can write 1000 words a day others might only manage a few hundred. Everyone is different, so find a style and method that suits you.
Do the research
This is very important, especially for crime fiction. When you’re writing about something factual, such as forensics, it’s worth the effort to make it as authentic as possible. This helps make the story more realistic and encourages readers to believe in the world you’re creating.
Finish the first draft before editing
It’s very tempting to start changing or polishing existing chapters instead of forging ahead with new ones. Don’t do it – the chances are the story will change again before you get to the end, so you’ll have to redo it all anyway. Once you have a completed first draft you’ll have a better idea of exactly what needs to be done. Which brings me to the next point…
Don’t shirk the rewrites
I’ve met people who think the work is done once the first draft is finished. That might be true for a very few writers, but most of us don’t get everything right first time. There’s always room for improvement.
Accept that there will be set-backs and disappointments and try not to let them knock you off-course. They probably will for a time, but the people who make it into print are the ones who keep trying.