Five Tips On Writing From Philip Pullman

Five Tips On Writing From Philip Pullman

Tips From A Master Writer

♦ Philip Pullman’s first book from The Book of Dust, La Belle Sauvage, is out now and here’s his five tips for writers from BBC Radio 4 Book Of The Week…

1. Ignore the market and write what you want.

 Publishers will be very keen to tell you to a write specific type of book, namely something similar to the current literary craze or bestseller. Write what you want to write, be the next big thing and not another iteration of a phase that will pass. People don’t know what they want to read until they actually start.

2. Stay at your desk

The question that every writer invariably gets asked is ‘where do your ideas come from?’ While no one can provide the definitive starting point of inspiration, Pullman knows exactly where they end up. The end of the line is at your desk. Resist wandering off, checking social media or making yet another cup of tea. You wouldn’t to miss a brilliant idea because you weren’t there to receive it.

3. Find the way of writing that works for you

Everyone works differently. Sitting at a desk in silence might be best way for you to write or it might fill with you with dread. If you find that curled up on the sofa with your laptop and music playing motivates you to write, then curl up on that sofa! If a plan clarifies your thoughts, then great, but if it’s more of a hindrance than a help, just start without one. The most important part is the writing; don’t be tied to how you think you should write if it doesn’t produce anything.

4. Let the protagonist propel events

There are just as many ways to structure a novel as there are to write one. A good steer, however, is to let the actions of the main character drive the plot. Its useful emotional shorthand for getting your readers invested with your lead. Even if the story begins with them committing a murder, by having the protagonist be the instigator, your audience will care about them regardless of their terrible actions.

5. Explore different formats and genres

Ideas might not necessarily fit into what you’re currently working on. If you know something is a good idea, but just isn’t working, don’t necessarily throw it out. Try it out in a different format, it might not fit in your novel but would work perfectly in a play or a poem. Likewise, your idea might not be suitable for a kitchen sink drama about a family reunion, but for your science fiction epic about reuniting a family of kitchen sinks might be its perfect home. Explore and experiment, you never know what you might find.

BBC Radio 4 Philip Pullman Five Tips For Writing

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