Monday, 11 July 2016

Milkshakes & Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox 

Release Date: 4th July 2016 (e-book)
Publisher:  Maze
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

I am thrilled to have Helen Cox on the blog sharing her top 5 writing tips! First, lets find out about her new book! 

‘With its shades of light and dark, this delicious debut is a page-turner you’d be mad to miss.’ SAMANTHA TONGE

Esther Knight is sharp, sarcastic – and hiding something. She waitresses at The Starlight Diner: a retro eatery where Fifties tunes stream out of the jukebox long into the night, and the tastiest milkshakes in New York are served.

Nobody at the diner knows why Esther left London for America – or why she repeatedly resists the charms of their newest regular, actor Jack Faber.

Esther is desperate to start a new life in the land of the free, but despite the warm welcome from the close-knit diner crowd, something from her past is holding her back. Can she ever learn to love and live again?

Every single writer I’ve met has had an individual approach to getting words down on the page. Below I’ve offered some advice based on my own experiences of writing fiction. Not all writing tips can work for all writers, but I hope at the very least, my advice provokes thought about your own methods, and perhaps offers a new perspective on something you’re working on.

1. Consider which parts of the story you choose to show carefully. Your character may have a lengthy story to tell but as the author it’s down to you to select the most intriguing parts of it and convey those to the reader. Do you need to start a chapter with all your characters sitting down to dinner together? Or could you start the chapter in the middle of the argument that break outs when dessert is served and establish setting and character in the middle of the action? Do we need a whole chapter in which the central character is lying on their bed, thinking? Show the most engaging parts of the story, and catch the reader up on the less-exciting elements during the course of the action.

2. Think deeply about setting. Not just the overall setting of your novel, although that is important, but the individual setting of each chapter. Try and think visually about what you’ve written, after all your reader is going to be imagining this in their head, so why not give them something really dynamic to imagine? Even if your book is set in a prison, there are other places to set chapters besides the cell in which your character is being held. Yes, there are many narratives that are set largely in one room, and yes these can be effective, but it pays to be clear from the outset about whether your story fits into that bracket.

3. Read… but read outside your genre. One of the hardest challenges, as a writer, is to develop your own ‘voice.’ My English teacher talked about this at school and at the time I had no idea what she really meant by it. A writer’s voice is influenced by many factors but perhaps most frequently by the voices of other writers we look up to. This is all well and good but there is a risk that your work could sound derivative as a result. My biggest tip for avoiding this is to read outside the genre you’re writing in. You’ll still witness some top-notch story-telling but you’ll have to transfer what you’ve learnt into a new genre – making it more likely to sound original.

4. If you get really stuck and can’t move your story forward, ask yourself either: what would be the worst thing to happen to the character now? Or, what does the reader really not want to happen next? By asking these questions and writing chapters that reflect the answers, you’ll inject more conflict into your writing. This will force your characters to react and even if you change what you’ve written in the editing process, this exercise will have served its purpose: it will have moved you closer to the finish line on your first draft.

5. Lastly, you might write a really great first draft, but be advised that the first draft is just the beginning of your novel taking shape. So don’t get too attached, OK? The first draft of my debut novel looked very, very different to what was published. And that’s OK. Because writing is a craft, and when you’re crafting something it takes time to get everything just right. Write your first draft and then be prepared to shunt words around until you’ve done justice to your characters and the message of your story.

Thanks so much to Helen for those wise words of wisdom! Don't forget to rush out and buy the new book. It sounds totally amazing and I'll be adding it to my TBR pile! 

- Copyright © 2013-2014 Brook Cottage Books - Powered by Blogger - Graphics & Blog Customization by JellydogDesign