Hello, my friends!
Today I have the pleasure to take part in Corrie Jackson’s blog tour for her latest gripping thriller, The Perfect Victim. The Perfect Victim is the second in the journalist Sophie Kent series and was published in the middle of November. If you still haven’t read it, do not worry. I’ll leave the Amazon links below. Today I have a guest post from lovely Corrie for you. Many thanks to lovely Emily and the amazing team at Bonnier Zaffre for the chance to be part of this blog tour.
5 Ways to Panic-Proof Your Writing
I spent over a decade carving out a career in the magazine industry and was fortunate enough to work in some of London’s buzziest offices. Since jacking it in to write books, I’ve had to learn the art of working alone. Going solo can be glorious and rewarding, but it’s not without its challenges. A job that requires you to hide from the world and rely on your own instincts can panic even the most seasoned author. It’s taken me a long time to get to the stage where I can tune out the poisonous voice in my head. You know that voice. Chances are you’ve heard it too. Am I any good? Will anyone read this? Am I wasting my time? The best way to deal? Sharpen your technique and step away from the panic. Check out my strategies below.
1. Sum it up in a sentence
My crime series is based around a fictional newspaper reporter, Sophie Kent. Her editor’s favourite piece of advice is this: ‘always know the line’. And it was the first thing I learnt as a rookie journalist. Whether you’re writing a six-page feature or a small paragraph on a fashion trend, if you can’t sum it up in one line, you haven’t nailed the angle. Same goes for fiction.
2. Keep on keeping on
In the brilliant writing manual Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott refers to it as the ‘shitty first draft’. Yep, first drafts are HELL. Some of my descriptive passages actually feature the abbreviation ‘tbc’ in the middle of a sentence because I can’t think of anything to write. Push onwards. And resist the urge to tinker. That’s what second drafts are for. Oh, and I always stop in the middle of sentence. Sounds weird, I know, but it works. When I come back to my computer the next day, I don’t have to be ‘creative’. All I have to do is finish the sentence. And by that stage, I’m already writing.
3. Don’t skimp on character
While writing my first book, Breaking Dead, I stumbled across this advice: every character is the protagonist in their own life. I loved that line so much I stuck it to my computer. It’s a great way of approaching your characters, particularly those easy-to-miss secondary characters (yes, I’m guilty of that too). They don’t need a fifteen-page backstory but they do need fleshing out.
4. Get your sh*t together
You’re juggling a protagonist, a killer, suspects, victims, witnesses, clues and red herrings. Keep a handle on them, or you’ll sink. If I’m feeling tech-y, I use a software program called Aeon Timeline. But mostly I’m a fan of the old-school way: index cards on the carpet. And I write everything down. Every thought that hits me, from a tiny character quirk to a plot game-changer, goes into my notebook. Even if eighty per cent of it never sees the light of day, it keeps things clear in my mind, and that’s half the battle.
5. Show up
So, you really want that publishing deal/six-figure advance/Booker prize? Then go for it! No one else is going to do it for you. Every sentence, character and plot point starts with you. There are no shortcuts. No days off. No brainstorms. So shut down social media and shove in the earplugs. Take whatever steps necessary to block the world out – and show the hell up. As Antony Burgess famously said, books get written by ‘bums on chairs and pens on paper.’ Yes, it really is that simple. Good luck!
Corrie Jackson has been a journalist for fifteen years. During that time she has worked at Harper’s Bazaar, the Daily Mail, Grazia and Glamour. Corrie now lives in Greenwich, Connecticut with her husband and two children. Breaking Dead, her debut novel, was the first in the journalist Sophie Kent series and was described by Glamour as ‘Gripping . . . crime with a side order of chic’ and by the Sun as ‘Original, amazingly written and tense’.