You may recall me being excited about getting started on a fictional novel a couple of months ago. And I really was, I wrote 3,000 words and everything! But then I never seemed to get around to starting chapter 2. I stumbled across two linked articles on the Guardian today, "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction" in which lots of authors gave their tips for aspiring novelists.
My personal favourite was from Anne Enright, who I've never heard of but will look up in future, particularly #6:
1 The first 12 years are the worst.
2 The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.
3 Only bad writers think that their work is really good.
4 Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.
5 Write whatever way you like. Fiction is made of words on a page; reality is made of something else. It doesn't matter how "real" your story is, or how "made up": what matters is its necessity.
6 Try to be accurate about stuff.
7 Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.
8 You can also do all that with whiskey.
9 Have fun.
10 Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free.
Perhaps one of these days I'll take a stab at chapter two...