Writing Tips 002 – write rubbish

Yeah, you read that one correctly.  Write rubbish.  Write crap.  Write utter shite.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever read was a quote from, if I recall correctly, Hemingway.  The gist of the quote was to write anything rather than nothing.  If you sit and stare at the wall and don’t write anything then you’re no further forward.  If you write something, no matter how bad you think it is when you put it down, then you can edit it, you can change it, you can even accept that it’s not utter shite, as well.

I’ve found that there are two schools of thought to writing crime fiction – “plot everything out beforehand” and “let the magic happen”.  I have tried the latter but it was utter bilge, so I do the first, though I have a high degree of improvisation in there.  Regardless, both methods require a high level of iteration – you don’t start at a perfect word one and finish 90,000 words later on a perfect word 90,000.  You have to savage it, pull it apart, destroy it, like it, change it, add to it.  To do any of that, you have to have something there.

If you’re reading this as a first-time writer, the best advice I can give you is just get that first draft done.  Finish it.  Race through it.

You’re nowhere near done, though.  Go through it a few times – try reading it as a reader, not you.  Which bits don’t work?  Which bits don’t flow well?  Which bits did you skirt over the research (ahem)?  Tackle it a few more times, then get someone else to read it, someone who will be honest.

To get a book as good as you can, you need to just get on with it.  The process of writing and rewriting and editing and proofing will give you everything that you need.

— Ed

Buy GHOST IN THE MACHINE –

UK Kindle – http://amzn.to/Ih2ros

US Kindle – http://amzn.to/IzknfQ

Author: edjamesauthor

East Lothian-based writer of crime fiction novels. Published by Amazon Publishing's Thomas & Mercer imprint and self-published on Kindle.

2 thoughts

  1. Good advice Ed- have done first draft, but only 71000 words! Now in interesting position of expanding- characters, back story etc. Like you I tried to let imagination rule, but in the end I plotted it out very carfully and found that helpful- thanks

    1. Don’t get too hung up on word count – 55,000 is generally the minimum for a novel, so you’ve cleared that. The next bit is the hardest, getting it to a point where you’re happy with it. It helps to set deadlines, I find, but they have to be realistic…

      Keep me posted on how you get on.

      — Ed

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