“Writing Is A Skill And It Requires Use To Improve”

Writing advice for first time novelists, from the winner of the most recent Terry Pratchett publishing prize

“Start getting into the habit of writing every day, whether it’s on a consistent project or just on something that occurs to you. Don’t wait around for inspiration, don’t quit if it’s hard. Get stuff down. Whatever the concept, just do it. Write fan fiction. Write reviews. Write a diary. Hell, write down your sexual fantasies; if nothing else people have been making really good money off that as of late. Whatever’s on your mind. Writing is a skill, and it requires use to improve. And this isn’t even a matter of ‘practice’, something you just started jotting down may take you all the way to a full novel. Even if it sucks, it’s better than nothing; sucking is the first step on the road to not sucking. The phrase ‘the perfect is the enemy of the good’ springs to mind. This seems obvious but the fact is that too many would-be writers don’t write. That was me for years, until the Terry Pratchett Prize got me motivated to actually make something. There’s a fear that you won’t live up to the fantasy of how good you want to believe you are, but that’s a fear every single published author got over. Now it’s your turn.”

The Hive Construct is out on Thursday 25 September (opens in new tab) . You can read more from Alexander Maskill in SFX issue 252, on sale this Wednesday with The Flash on the cover.

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