T.A Williams Writing Tips
T.A. (Trevor) Williams offers few tips for aspiring authors.
I would preface these remarks by saying that the only reason I feel able to offer a few suggestions is because I’m very old, not because J.K. Rowling has anything to worry about in terms of competition from me. I have written 11 books, most of them romantic comedies published as e-books by HQ (a Harper Collins imprint), some by Canelo, and number 12 is written, but still at the arguing with my editor stage. I’ve had a few books in the top 100 on Amazon, I’ve reached number one in fiction on iBooks, but I still haven’t made enough to buy that Ferrari yet. So, do bear in mind my first point below and remember the words of Gene Hackman in “Get Shorty”. ‘The only kind of writing that makes money is ransom notes.’
1. Don’t do it for the money and don’t, whatever you do, chuck in a good job until you see the size of the cheques rolling in. You may get lucky, but even lucky authors struggle to earn enough to live on.
2. Write what you want to write, not what you think you should write. If we had all followed the pundits in 2013, the literary world would by now be wall-to-wall sado-masochism, bondage and clueless little girls getting bullied by perverts in suits. Write what you enjoy reading and because you enjoy writing.
3. Make sure your first line, paragraph and page are real attention-grabbers. I can’t stress this highly enough. Although every book involves some sort of back story to set the characters, location and plot, there is no need to do that immediately. Much better to begin the book with the hero/heroine hanging upside down, getting married, crying her eyes out (not necessarily at the same time) and let the explanation emerge as the book develops. Literary agents, publishers and the book-buying public, just like the rest of us, need to be drawn in from the very start. As an example, my last book started with one single word, ‘Ouch.’
4. Write where and how you like. Me, I’m a desktop computer in my study sort of person, preferably in complete silence and fuelled by regular cups of tea. Other people prefer a laptop and a coffee shop. Some people set out to write a certain number of words every day. Others (myself included) tend to wing it. There is no one size fits all “right” way to write a book and don’t let anybody tell you differently. Whatever feels right for you is right for you.
5. Do the research. If you’re writing about bull-fighting, go and see as many bullfights as you can. Study the history of bullfighting and, ideally, become a bullfighter for a few weeks, but there is a fine line beyond which research becomes excessive. Nowadays, with information about everything available online and Google Earth allowing you to zoom in on locations all round the world, there is no excuse for sticking a slate roof on a Roman villa or putting the steering wheel on the left in a Japanese taxi.
6. When you finally type the magic words “The End”, definitely open a bottle of bubbly. You have done what so many people would like to do, but never succeed in doing. However, when the hangover gradually wears off, remember that this is only the start. Personally, I like to leave a newly-completed book for a week or so before returning to it and beginning the laborious process of editing it.
7. Before you self-publish, or send your manuscript to an agent or publisher, get a good few people you trust to read it and listen to their comments. What strikes you as perfectly normal and understandable may prove to be unintelligible to an outsider. What strikes you as a logical way to behave may appear bizarre to the uninitiated. And do, please, get somebody to check your grammar and spelling. I used to be an English teacher and I reckon I write pretty correct English, but every time one of my books goes to an editor, mistakes emerge, particularly with punctuation. Where’s Lynn Truss when you need her?
8. Be prepared for disappointment. JK allegedly had “Harry Potter” rejected by agents and publishers more times than I’ve had hot dinners. Richard Adams was supposedly told to ‘try it again without the bunnies”. There are thousands and thousands of writers out, there desperate to find an agent or publisher. Don’t expect to strike lucky first, or even tenth, time. Like I said at the start. You might be lucky, but the odds are against you. But, if your book is good and you persevere, you’ll get there in the end. I did.
9. Finally, develop a thick skin. You can’t please all of the people all of the time and, inevitably, you will get bad reviews as well as good ones. Although your book is your baby, you have to accept that it won’t please everybody.
And that’s it. I hope there thoughts help you in your literary career and if you do become the next JK, remember your friends…
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/T.A.-Williams/e/B00FDVNVMA/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Website (terribly out of date – must do something about that): https://www.tawilliamsbooks.com