Guest Post: Lindsey Kelk's Top 5 Writing Tips

Thursday 5 November 2015
Today I am so excited to be part of another Lindsey Kelk blog tour. It's always one of my favourite times of the year, because it's always accompanied by another amazing book, this time it's the third Tess Brookes novel, A Girl's Best Friend which is released TODAY! Lindsey is sharing her Top 5 Writing Tips which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The idea of attempting to write something myself has always lingered at the back of my mind, perhaps one day I will take the plunge. I hope you enjoy reading the guest post!

Lindsey Kelk's Top 5 Writing Tips

This is considerably more difficult than it should be for someone who has written eleven books and is currently writing her twelfth. The below are cobbled together from writing courses, editors, lecturers, books, people much cleverer than I and that old chestnut, experience. They won’t be appropriate to everyone but hopefully they’ll help some of you, somewhat.

1. Throw the teddy in the crash
I was very lucky to study writing with the wonderful Graham Joyce at university. And learned so very, very much. One of the most memorable lessons was his ‘throw the teddy in the crash’ technique. The story goes that when he was training as a young local journalist, he and his photographer were sent to cover a car crash but when they arrived, there really wasn’t much of a story. The photographer knew he needed to file a story and so went to a shop, bought a cheap teddy bear, roughed it up a bit and threw it in the wreckage from the crash, immediately creating more impact and drama for his photo. The same can always be applied to a story. If something is feeling flat, think how you can transform the action by ratcheting up the tension, changing location or throwing in an unexpected variable. Sadly, Graham passed away last year but if you’re a fan of fantasy, I totally recommend his amazing books which will happily be with us forever.

2. What’s the ticking clock?
If your story is lacking direction, it can help to add pressure to the story. In the first draft of I Heart New York, Angela had no real reason to return to London and it was my editor’s suggestion to have a magazine offer her a job in the UK. That created more drama in the story as she suddenly had a hard decision to make and not a lot of time in which to make it. This is always something I think of when the pace of my story is suffering.

3. Five possibilities
If you’ve hit a brick wall, take yourself away and write down (preferably with a pen and pencil) and write down five possible scenarios for the characters. It can be anything, as wild and wacky and unrealistic as you like, the whole point is just to get your imagination working. So no, if I’m stuck, Angela isn’t likely to run away with aliens but it’s a possibility that gets my brain working in a new way and that’s good enough. Eventually everything will fall back into place.

4. Say It Out Loud
Dialogue is something a lot of people find difficult when writing commercial fiction. You want to avoid anything over flowery and intense and you can’t directly write out real conversations as it never reads right on the page. I find the best way is to write everything out without over thinking and then, if you’re not sure, say it out loud and make sure it has the right ring to it. Good dialogue has a rhythm and a flow to it that is can be easier to hear when spoken than read when you’re deep in writing mode.

5. Just write
This really is the best and only advice you need. The best way to write is to write and you’ll never know whether or not you can do it unless you do it. Set some time aside, lock yourself away, turn off your phone and disable the internet (hard but entirely necessary), then just let it all out. It might not be easy and it might not even be good but how are you supposed to be a writer if you don’t write? You can do it!

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