Read, read and read some more – Jules Wake

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By Jules Wake

For the last couple of days I’ve been a bit stuck on my current manuscript, unable to figure out what was wrong. This is my seventh book and I still find I’m learning with each one. Writing a book isn’t easy, there are so many things to remember and being able to employ the right techniques is just as important as being able to write well. ♥

To borrow a phrase from excellent writing teacher and author, Sue Moorcroft, when I spoke to her about this subject, ‘You can be a great writer but it doesn’t make you a great storyteller.’

There’s so much to remember with regard to the technical components, show not tell, characterisation, structure, pace, motivation and conflict, to name but a few.

Fed up with the lack of progress I was making, I took a break and decided to read a book for pleasure and critique the manuscript that had been waiting for my attention.

Why is it so much easier to spot what is wrong or right in someone else’s work?

When critiquing someone else’s manuscript, I can always identify what’s wrong. In this particular story there were too many scenes with the hero and heroine at home in their kitchen pondering this, that and the other, which had nothing to do with moving the story forward. I could see exactly why these scenes were stalling the plot, neither character had clear motivation. As a reader I didn’t know what either of them really wanted and certainly not what they needed to achieve by the end of the book.

There is an important difference between the two. When writing a novel, you need to understand what a character wants, however and this is the big however, what they need maybe something entirely different. If the two conflict, it makes for an even meatier story. If what the hero and heroines wants and needs conflict with each other, then even better!

I then read a book, where the author had this taped from page one. By the end of chapter three, I knew exactly what the motivations of both hero and heroine were, what they wanted and what they needed.

And there it was, the answer! In the ‘Eureka’ moment, I realised that my current heroine’s motivation has been woolly to say the least. Once I sorted that out, hey presto, the words started to flow again.

So my advice, is to read, read, read and learn as much as you can from other authors. Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint. And having completed the first marathon, you wouldn’t enter the Olympics straight away, would you?


Bred but not born in Yorkshire, Jules Wake considers herself an honorary Yorkshire woman and despite living in the Chilterns still misses proper hills. She’s wanted to be a writer forever and blames this on her grandmother taking her at a young age to the Brontes’ parsonage in Haworth. Despite early lofty ambitions, the path to published novelist took a wide diversion. After taking a creative writing course and finding no local writing group, she set up the Tring Writers’ Circle seven years ago.

juleswake.co.uk

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