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Advice from a Playwright

The Town Hall Writers’ Conference began this morning with an introduction to the five Ambassadors who are on hand to answer publishing questions over the weekend. They each gave tips that they wished they’d known at the start of their careers. Novelist, playwright and performer Alan Bissett suggests:

  1. Learn to be a performer: both the reader and the writer need to have fun; you want the audience to come back again or to buy your book
  2. Have style and avoid cliché
  3. Instead of indulging in structured procrastination, write the thing that needs to be written; write it furtively, like you are a truant, like you simply MUST write it. When it stops being like and becomes just plain hard work, it is time to stop.
  4. The real writing is in the editing. I once wrote 150,000 words over 2 years in order to produce a 65,000 word book. That’s a lot of writing which will never see the light of day (because it’s shite!)
  5. Politics is unavoidable – so you may as well stand for something
  6. Go funny and then go dark. Make the reader laugh and then kick him in the guts; give them pain and then give them a cuddle. Think American PsychoBrett Easton Ellis can only write that stuff because it is hilarious.

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