In this post, we share Patrick Ness’s 5 main tips for fiction writers.
He has written nine books: two novels for adults (The Crash of Hennington and The Crane Wife), one short story collection for adults (Topics About Which I Know Nothing) and six novels for young adults (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men, A Monster Calls, More Than This and The Rest of Us Just Live Here).
He has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian.
He won the Carnegie Medal twice for Monsters of Men and A Monster Calls, the Costa Children’s Book Award, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Red House Book Award, the Jugendliteratur Preis, the UKLA Award, and the Booktrust Teenage Prize.
Here are his tips for writing fiction from an interview with Walker Books.
Patrick Ness’s 5 Main Tips For Fiction Writers
- Write a book that YOU want to read. Seriously, even if it’s off the wall or you’re worried that there’s no “market”, it’ll have your enthusiasm and love all over it, which automatically makes it more interesting.
- Be sure to write the book. For novels especially, agents and publishers won’t want to hear from you unless they know you’re serious. So write your book, all of it. That way, when they ask, you can say, “Here it is. You’re gonna love it.”
- Find an agent – Buy The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. It’s a list of every agent in town. What’s good to know is that I got my agent just by sending out samples to a whole bunch. I didn’t know anyone or have any connections, so it can happen to you, too.
- Learn to take criticism – Your first draft won’t be perfect, and it’s damaging to the book to think that it is. Every great book you’ve ever read has been rewritten a dozen times. This is the hardest thing to learn (trust me), but very, very important.
- Don’t give up – You’ll have setbacks and sometimes it’ll seem like it’s never going to happen. But don’t stop. I’ll say it again, don’t ever stop.
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