Carole’s advice for Delphine:
1. You need to start with the main story and the central characters. (Many first manuscripts start in the wrong place!)
2. There is no need to go into the background of this character right at the beginning. You need to know it yourself, but you can reveal it to the reader, slowly, as you go along.
3. It is useful to know how your novel ends before you write the beginning, because then you’ll have an idea of what you are aiming for and whether you will be able to get there. Remember that a satisfying ending has to be seeded in right from the start. Whatever emotion you want to leave your reader with, needs to be set up early on.
4. Do not switch viewpoints within scenes. Think of it as a film. The reader needs to know whose eyes they are seeing each scene through.
5. If you want to be a published writer, read plenty of fiction. You need to read and analyse. Ask yourself why the novel is keeping your attention – what the author is doing and how they are doing it.
When Carole reads a manuscript she is looking for evidence that authors have a strong voice and have drawn convincing characters. For her full submission guidelines see http://www.blakefriedmann.co.uk/aboutus/submissions.
Advice from Katie:
1. The first line of your book is the most important but it doesn’t have to be the first line you write. Just get going with any old line and then, when you’ve finished, get that first line as snappy and hooky as you possibly can.
2. Lots of books – even by published writers – start too late. Start your story as near to the end as you possibly can.
3. A reader is like a baby duckling – they will lock onto the first thing they see when they come out of the egg. It’s called imprinting. We need them to lock onto the right person.
4. Sprinkle in the back story – don’t deliver it in a great big chunk.
5. Try writing in the first person.
6. As a writer, you have to make the judgement about which pieces of advice you follow.
7. Persevere! If you have the grit and determination to do it, you will do it.