Ally Carter’s 10 tips for writing success

In her latest release 'Dear Ally, How Do I Write a Book?' she gives us the definitive guide to writing - think of her as writings very own agony aunt.


For years we’ve been grabbing Ally Carter‘s releases off our bookshelves and now she’s about to turn into your fairy author Godmother. If you’ve always wanted to write but have never been sure where to begin or what to do with tricky characters – Ally’s about to come to the rescue.

In her latest release ‘Dear Ally, How Do I Write a Book?’ she gives us the definitive guide to writing – think of her as writings very own agony aunt. Interested? We’ve got 10 tips from the lady herself to get you kickstarted.

1. Never compare your first draft to someone else’s finished draft (Even your own)

This is the first writing advice I ever received (thanks, Mom!), and it’s still my favourite. You don’t know how many ugly drafts it took to get your favourite book just right. So focus on giving your book however many drafts it needs.

2. There is no one way to write a book

This saying is old but true. I know dozens of amazing writers, and none of us write exactly the same way. In fact, how I write my next book will be very different than how I wrote my first book. Your job is simple: figure out the process that works for you!

3. Don’t be afraid to write badly

Maybe this is your process. Maybe it’s not. But if the pressure to make things perfect is getting you down: stop. Write long-hand in a notebook. Type on your phone. Do something where you can’t edit—where you can only move forward—and see if that helps you reach THE END. Still not perfect? That’s what second drafts are for.

Image Source: Giphy

4. Conflict is gas in the tank

The moment you run out of conflict, you run out of the story. So if you (and your characters) are stalled then you need to put something—or someone—in between them and their goals.

5. Ideas are the easy part

The vast majority of people who have an idea for a book will never, ever have a book. Ever. They’ll never even come close. Why? Because this is hard, time-consuming work. If it’s hard for you, that just means you’re doing the real work. Keep at it.

6. Writer’s block isn’t the problem—it’s the symptom

I stole this one from Cassandra Clare because it’s just too true not to include here. Sometimes “writer’s block” is just a fancy way of saying you don’t feel like working. But sometimes it means something is wrong and you’ve got to take a step back and see just what’s not working. And why.

7. Beware the new, shiny idea

Middles are hard. For everyone. And when it gets hard you’ll probably get a new, shiny idea that will seem five billion times better than the book you’re working on. You’re going to want to abandon your project. Don’t do it. Keep writing through the hard part. It will be totally worth it once you reach THE END.

Image Source: Giphy

8. Time is the best editor of all

The first thing you do when you finish your book is celebrate! The second thing you should do is put it in a drawer and don’t look at it for a few months while you write something totally different. There’s nothing like reading a book with fresh eyes to show you all the things you never noticed before—both the good and the bad.

9. Don’t rush

Too often new writers want to jump right into the “how do I get a book deal and sell movie rights” part and skip over the “how do I become a really good writer” part. Don’t. The great part about being unpublished is that you have all the time you need to hone your craft and have fun.

10. Writing is art. Publishing is a business

Writing is a great hobby and an amazing creative outlet. Publishing is a serious and incredibly competitive industry. So write first because you love writing. Because the business part? That’s almost entirely out of your hands.

Ally Carter’s latest release ‘Dear Ally, How Do I Write A Book?’ is available to buy now here.

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