10 tips for aspiring writers from award-winning UAE authors
Our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation share tips on getting that book published…
Entries are now open for the Emirates LitFest Writing Prize – open to aspiring writers throughout the region. If you’ve always felt you have a book in you, but haven’t been sure how to put pen to paper, then now’s the time to flex your creative muscle.
To help you get started, authors Jessica Jarlvi and Annabel Kantaria (both previous winners of the writing prize) share their top tops for aspiring authors.
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no-one knows what they are.”
W Somerset Maugham
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- Get into the habit of daily writing – set a realistic daily target, even if it’s just 200 or 500 words, and appoint an accountability partner to make sure you do the work. Don’t wait for long blocks of time to write: fit it into your everyday life. You might be surprised what you can achieve in half an hour.
- Read books with your writer’s head on: figure out what works and what doesn’t work in other novels in the genre you’re writing. Understand what it is that makes you like or dislike them.
- Read writing books that will help you develop your writing skills – ‘Save The Cat Writes a Novel’ by Jessica Brody is great for structure. Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ is a good all-round read for budding authors.
- Sign up for writing courses and talks by successful authors – there are so many online workshops, courses and Zoom talks on offer; use them to learn from those further ahead in their careers.
- Write the book you’d like to read, not the book you think people want to read. Likewise, don’t chase publishing trends: it’s more than possible that they’ll have moved on by the time your book makes it to a bookshop.
- Seek reliable feedback from people whom you trust to be honest. Writing groups are good for this, if that’s your thing, but remember that it’s your story and any comments are just suggestions.
- Don’t edit as you write but, when you do edit, don’t rush. Unless you’re a meticulous planner, the editing stage can be more important than the writing – this is where the story will evolve.
- Prepare a one- or two-line pitch that answers the question ‘what’s your book about?’ and refer back to this when you get stuck.
- Keep going: writing a book is like running a marathon. It’s hard and it’s lonely and there are times when you’ll think your work is rubbish, but you just have to keep moving forward.
- Research agents before pitching to them: find out what they’re looking for and how they want it submitted. Look out for competitions that could win you the attention of an agent or a publisher – it’s an easy way to get your foot in the door.
Annabel Kantaria and Jessica Jarlvi both found international publishing success after winning the Emirates LitFest Writing Prize (formerly known as the Montegrappa). Their books can be found in most well-stocked book shops and online.