Your Best Writing Tips


Thank you all for your fabulous tips. The contest for the free critique of two pages of your manuscript is now closed, but feel free to give more writing tips, if you’ve got them!

We’ll do a random draw later today and get in touch with the winner shortly thereafter to get your two pages to critique.


There is just one week left to register for our newsletter and qualify for the retreat discount – that offer closes at midnight on 31 October GMT.

As a last bit of encouragement, we are offering a FREE critique of two manuscript pages to TWO people. All you have to do is comment below with the best writing tip you’ve ever been told. If you know where it came from, that would be good, too, but not required.

We’ll pick two random commenters below on the 1 November to receive a free critique of two pages from two of the Book Bound team on any bit of writing you choose (though you’ll get the best results if it’s a work of children’s fiction).

If you haven’t registered for our newsletter and want to save £50 if you are accepted onto the course, visit the Booking Information page. And if you haven’t yet applied, there are still places available.

Can’t wait to hear your tips!


35 thoughts on “Your Best Writing Tips

  1. A well known literary agent on one of his writing courses suggested to completely cut the first and final pages of my finished manuscript. This meant my hero hit the ground running from the start, and the condensed ending leaves room for ‘what if?’

  2. “99% of writing is editing” – said by Richard Curtis at a D&AD talk about 12 years ago, made something click in me & freed me up to write like nobody’s reading, a bit like being able to dance like nobody’s watching!

  3. My dad (a writer) gave me some great advice when I started writing: “The first page must excite you enough to want to see the second page.” and so on and so on…

  4. The most striking (and wonderfully inspiring) piece of advice I ever heard was from my hero Philip Pullman. It’s so good I have it on the whiteboard above my desk, and it underpins my writing and reviewing life:
    (Not sure if younger writers will get the reference to the former Cassius Clay, but it has more than enough merit on its own)

    But the most useful bit of advice (offered by a certain shoe company!) is what I mutter to myself every day as I tidy my desk, check my emails just once more, fret about never being good enough and generally faff around in order to avoid the bum-on-seat moment:

  5. “Spend the day as your character – how would she react to that, how would she feel about this? Get right under her skin. If you don’t feel your character, you’re writing in the dark.”

    From Imogen Cooper of the Golden Egg Academy/Chicken House Publications

  6. An editor of a blog I write for told our team to swallow our pride and not be afraid to cut. He quoted Henry David Thoreau: “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”

  7. Beverley Birch said that to hook readers in and keep them reading, you have to continually give your characters choices to make with high-stakes consequences. The reader will want to read on to find out what the characters decide to do and if it was the right decision. My poor main character…

  8. “Constantly write. Don’t fixate on ONE story, find that one and then move on to the next 15. You’ll never learn how to write books for children unless you find a way to develop some sort of “creative momentum” within yourself that compels you to tell one story, then another, then another. Honestly, you really need to write 50 so-so stories, 30 okay stories and 20 good stories before getting to that one GREAT story.” author/illustrator, Bob Staake

  9. “Write 5,000 words every weekend for the next 12 weeks and you’ll have your book.” David Almond, when I told him I’d written the first 5,000 words of my story.

  10. Read it out loud to yourself, your cat or anyone else who will listen – record and play it back if you can stand the sound of your own voice!

  11. Remind yourself of why you can do this by reading something brilliant- an Edward Thomas poem or the first chapter of ‘A Monster Calls’…

  12. “Keep on!”

    All too easy (for me, at least) to flit from opening scene to opening scene. So much tougher to push on through to the end!

  13. ‘Remember that swapping viewpoints, like changing lanes on the motorway, is always a danger point when you risk losing your reader, so only consider doing it when she [the reader] really has something to gain.’ (Jenny Newman)

  14. “You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
    ― Ray Bradbury

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