"The mind is a fascinating thing, and that also plays to the supernatural. Is it real or isn’t it? Does anyone really know?" S.J.I. Holliday
Tips for writers
Be creative

Be creative

Let’s say you would like to write a novel. You have a plot summary, gained over weeks, months, years, which has formed in your mind while you have been out walking, running, having a bath. The plot is simple and effective, and you can describe it in less than a minute. Your friends like your...
Richard Skinner: Getting going

Richard Skinner: Getting going

Richard Skinner is Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy and a tutor on its six-month Writing a Novel course. Working across fiction, life writing, non-fiction and poetry, his latest book is Writing a Novel: Bring Your Ideas To Life The Faber Academy Way. I fire off some questions about the book, the course...
Step by step

Step by step

Hannah Vincent’s The Weaning is a gripping suspense novel about a psychotic childminder who finds herself the perfect job. But as Bobbi seeks to fill the baby-shaped hole in her life, events spiral out of control. Hannah worked as a childminder while she was writing the novel, and here are her tips for writing from...
Best intentions

Best intentions

S.V. Berlin’s debut novel The Favourite is a compelling story about rivalries and secrets as siblings Edward and Isobel are thrown together after a long absence by the death of their mother and the need to sort through the family home. She shares her tips for realising your writing ambitions.   1. Read, read, read...
Watertight rules

Watertight rules

The hardback edition of James Swallow’s latest novel Nomad was a Sunday Times bestseller last summer. It’s a gripping spy thriller for the post-WikiLeaks world, in which private military contractors, agile terror cells and corporations wield as much power as national intelligence agencies. On the release of the paperback, he shares some words of advice...
Getting started

Getting started

Brit Bennett has just embarked on an exhaustive 15-city US tour to promote her dazzling debut novel The Mothers. Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, it’s an emotionally perceptive story about community, love and ambition. She takes a moment to share some rules about choosing what to write and how to go...
Keep the passion

Keep the passion

Marking the relaunch of The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writers of the Year Award, five past winners share their tips and hints for writers still seeking their first break. Andrew Cowan 1. There’s no point in advising you to read because you wouldn’t be a writer unless you were already a reader, would...
Joy, not fear

Joy, not fear

Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, longlisted for the National Book Award, is a subtly subversive novel in two halves about impetuous college sweethearts who marry young and learn valuable lessons across three decades about love, art, creativity and power. She shares some hints about keeping the creative urge in check.   1. The blank page...
Risk and persist

Risk and persist

Umi Sinha’s debut novel Belonging is a beautifully crafted epic of love and loss, ethnicity and homeland, telling the interwoven story of three generations from the darkest days of the British Raj in India to the aftermath of the First World War in rural Sussex. Here are some tips and hints she gleaned from completing the novel, and...
53 ways to improve your short stories

53 ways to improve your short stories

The author of We Don’t Know What We’re Doing has thought quite a bit about how best to approach writing short fiction. We asked him to compile a list of do’s and don’ts and suggested reading that might help practitioners at any stage of their craft. 1. Read Flannery O’Connor. Now. 2. All characters think...