Happy Birthday, Simon Scarrow, born 3 October 1962
- A storyteller, a good one, mind you, produces a spell that binds his audience into sharing another world.
- Read a lot. And I mean a lot. And read widely. It is vital that you get a sense of the variety of writing styles there is out there. As you read, ask yourself how you are responding to what’s on the page in front of you. Are you compelled to read on, past the point which you had anticipated? If so, try to understand what aspects of plot and style have forced you to read on.
- Write a lot. And I mean a lot. I once read that being a writer was not a hobby, it was an affliction. That rings true for me. I’m forever thinking about new stories, trying out opening chapters etc. Only a small proportion of these ideas ends up on the to do files of my word processor. It is hugely helpful to surround yourself with other writers. Join a writers’ group. And write regularly. Set yourself targets as in I will not stop until I have completed 1,000 words.
- Carry a notebook at all times. My best ideas come late at night, on the train, whilst walking the dog etc. Believe me, that finely turned phrase, killer idea, will be lost unless it is immediately set down on paper.
- Forget writing about what you know about. Writing is creative. It is liberating and one of its real rewards is the point at which you become transported into the world you describe and it becomes almost alive to your senses.
- Research the market. Analyse the best-seller lists. Go into the book shops and see what is selling well. Soon you’ll have a handle on which genres to avoid and which you feel confident you could tackle.
- Buy yourself a copy of The Writer’s Handbook. Draw up a short list (or even a long one) of agencies you will submit your material to.
- Don’t give up! If you really are one of the afflicted then this piece of advice won’t apply since nothing can stop you from continuing. If you aren’t afflicted then perhaps you really should consider some better use of your time.
- Be Lucky. You’ll need some luck as well as talent. Getting published is about the right manuscript landing on the right desk at the right moment. If you get turned down it might have something to do with the quality of your material. On the other hand the agent might well be in a grumpy mood the morning he/she opens your envelope. And be optimistic.
Advice from Simon’s Website (click on the link to read he full post)
Simon Scarrow is a UK-based author who was born in Nigeria. He is a successful historical fiction writer with several best-selling series to his name, including the Eagles of the Empire series set in 1st Century Roman Europe.
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