I had written 50,000 words and sacked 45,000 of them. I had no plot. Not good. ‘YouTube’ I thought ‘got to be plenty of advice on how to write a book on YouTube.’ Turns out anyone who has ever written so much as an e mail has advice on how to write a best seller. There are literary agents, self-published authors, even genuine authors, all wiling to tell you what to avoid and more importantly what you need to include.

Turns out that you need to watch your ‘prose.’ Some sentences need to be shorter than others, breaks up the monotony, keeps the readers interest. ‘Okay got that’ I thought ‘so what’s next?’ Pace!! See pace is how the book flows, you’ve got to give your readers a break now and again. You can’t write the book at a ridiculous pace, the reader needs to take a breather. ‘Okay’ I thought ‘so watch my prose, keep a check on my pacing. Got it!! Anything else.’ Plenty apparently.

So now we have to ensure that the reader isn’t insulted. Don’t, under any circumstances, tell the reader. Show them but don’t insult their intelligence by making it too obvious. An example might be, instead of saying ‘Charles was tall’ which is a tell; say something like ‘Charles had to duck when entering the room’ now that’s a show. ‘Okay, so I need to watch my prose, make sure I’m pacing, show not tell, anything else?

Yes, the list grows. Apart from – grammar, spelling, phrasing, italics, pacing, show not tell, prose, over use of adverbs, a flawed protagonist, correct use of dialogue and of course the plot itself, ‘which has at least as many sub-categories,’ is there anything else? Unfortunately the answer is Yes!! Reminds me of the Monty Pythons sketch entitled ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?

At this point that annoying thought keeps entering your conscious mind ‘why did I ever decide to write a book?’

I set about trying to establish what kind of writer I might be. You are either an architect or a gardener. ‘More like general dog’s body on my past writing performance’ I thought. An architect plots out every chapter, every sub-plot, does a character appraisal on each individual before he or she even starts on the manuscript itself; John Grisham is an architect. A gardener develops the plot as he goes along; George R. R. Martin is a gardener.

I would consider myself a ‘Garchitect’ – a bit of both but more leaning towards a gardener.

So now it is a case of ‘back to the drawing board’ with my salvaged 5,000 words. I set about devising a simple wireframe structure for my plot, decided to take more time over the manuscript and try to bear in mind all the above.

What could possibly go wrong?

Next – Alien names.