Eve Chase's top tips for debut authors

Debut author Eve Chase always wanted to write about families - ones that go wrong but somehow survive - and big old houses, where family secrets and untold stories seed in the crumbling stone walls. Black Rabbit Hall is such a story.

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1. Give your novel plenty of attention

Writing a novel is a bit like inviting a needy puppy to live in your head. It needs daily exercise, care and attention. It keeps you up at night, demands more than you can give, digs up your lawn, and never thanks you. But once it’s there, it’s hard not to love.  

2. Real writers don't do laundry

Who has time to write? No one. Find cracks in the day. Turn off the telly, write instead. Set your alarm clock two hours earlier: yes, you’ll be tired, but everyone is tired anyway. Don’t throw dinner parties. Ignore your children. Ignore the mess. (We all know that an empty laundry basket is a sign of a writer not writing). Don’t feel guilty. Your word count will steadily creep forward. 

3. Slog it out- don't resign your book to the fate of forgotten drafts


The hardest thing about writing a book is – obvious, really – writing the damn thing. It’s always part inspiration, bigger part slog. There are zillions of unfinished novels languishing on laptops for this reason. Yes, finding an agent and a publisher can be tricky. But the process always has to start with a corking story. Only you can do this. This is the joy of it. Anything could happen.

4. Change something. Anything

If you’re stuck or can’t get the writing to sing, change something. It could just be the font style – this can jolt the brain. Or rewrite a chapter from a different point of view. How does it sound? Trust your instincts. I’ve changed the tense in an entire novel before. It took ages. But it made the story work.  

5. Don't be afraid to wield the red pen

Always print out and read on paper, not just the screen. It’s amazing how many errors – typos, repetitions, adverbs, unintentional rhymes – the screen buries. On paper they leap out like pixies. And then there is the satisfaction of striking them down with red pen. 

6. Cut, cut, cut

Don’t be afraid to cut, then cut again. Yes, it’s painful. All those words. "A little like murdering children," as Stephen King says. Many novelists – myself included – will have cut at least 30,000 words from a 90,000 novel by the end. (Resist working it out in writing hours.) 

7. Aim high but be humble

You need ego to write – the next Girl On The Train, why not? – but humility and harsh self-criticism to make your writing worth reading. In practical terms this means rewrite everything. Rewrite it again. Read all the time. Learn from writers who are better than you. 

8. Don't think about your mother reading it

Write without self-consciousness. I forget about the reader – any reader, let alone reviewers – while deep in my writing otherwise it’s inhibiting. Don’t ever think about friends reading it. Or worse, your mother. 

9. Plan your elevator pitch

You don’t need the entire story plotted out before writing. But you do need a premise, your own private elevator pitch: 'My story is about…' When you get to the end of the book, ask yourself if you’ve satisfied it. If the answer is 'Pants, the book I’ve written is totally about something else!', that’s okay. Breathe. Think of a new premise. But do have one. It’ll tighten the story. And a cracking premise will help sell your book. 

10. Channel Jack Kerouac

"It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way thatcha write it" - Jack Kerouac. Find your voice. Be honest and true. Good luck!

Finally... make difficult decisions

At some point you’ll have to choose between Pilates and a writer’s bad back.  

More about Eve Chase

Eve is married with three children and lives in Oxfordshire where she is working on her second book which will be available in Spring 2017. You can follow Eve on Twitter @evepchase. Apply for your copy of her debut novel Black Rabbit Hall now! 

Last updated: 5 months ago