1) Make your characters believable. You can get by with a weak plot if your characters are believable but the best plot in the world will not work if your characters aren’t realistic. I never base my characters on people I know (I don’t want to offend anyone) but I’m always observing people’s mannerisms and quirks. A writer needs to know their characters inside out but only a small amount of information comes out in the story.
2) I recommend that people plan their stories before they start. Some people like to just write but planning helps to stay on track. A bit like taking a map when you set out on a journey – you might get lost occasionally, but having a map helps you to get back on track.
3) Write from your heart. By that I mean, write what comes naturally to you and not what you think other people want to read. If you’re into sci-fi, don’t try to write historical romances just because you think you’ll earn more money from them.
4) Keep a note pad and pen with you and write down anything that you think you might want to use some day – something someone says, an unusual incident, a description of someone sitting opposite you on the bus – anything at all.
5) The beginning of a story is the most important – you have to grab your reader right from the start and make them want to read on, so try to start it with something dramatic or exciting.
6) Be persistent! Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration – that means it’s hard work. It took me 23 years of rejections before I was published but I never gave up because I knew it was something I really wanted to do.
7) And remember – a rejection of your work isn’t a criticism of you! Stories get rejected for all sorts of reasons. Listen to the reasons why your story was rejected, learn from them and try again.