where the writers are
A List Of Five Good Tips To Use When Novel Writing

I am of two minds about making things easier, or creating short cuts, for writers. We learn better from finding our own mistakes. And I have more and more doubt that one can really be "taught" much when it comes to creative writing. My best advice (even put into rhyme) is When in doubt/Take it out.

All that said, I really do like the tips in this article. Tana French calls herself an apprentice at the writing game, but if she is this wise she will go a long way. #3 is a Keeper.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

5 Writing Tips 
By Tana French 

I’m still very much in the apprentice stage of writing. I read somewhere that you need to write a million words before you know what you’re doing – so I’m headed that way, but I’m nowhere near there. But, for what they’re worth, here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

1. It’s OK to screw up. For me, this was the big revelation when I was writing my first book, In the Woods: I could get it wrong as many times as I needed to. I was coming from theatre, where you need to get it right every night, because this audience will probably never see the show again; it took me a while to realise that, until the book goes into print, it’s still rehearsal, where you can try whatever you need to try. If you rewrite a paragraph fifty times and forty-nine of them are terrible, that’s fine; you only need to get it right once.

 2. Your character is always right. No real person thinks they’re being stupid or misguided or bigoted or evil or just plain wrong – so your characters can’t, either. If you’re writing a scene for a character with whom you disagree in every way, you still need to show how that character is absolutely justified in his or her own mind, or the scene will come across as being about the author’s views rather than about the character’s. You can’t make the judgement that your character is wrong; let the readers do that for themselves. 

3. There’s no such thing as ‘men’ or ‘women’. There’s only the individual character you’re writing... (more)


Tana French's new novel, Broken Harbor, publishes July 24 from Viking.





1 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Tana French

Hi Dala, I agree, Tana finds good words for what should be obvious.