Advice for a novice writer

From the morning email: “Hi Mary! I’m Teri I’m from California. I’m your biggest fan. I’m a novice writer. What is the most important advice you can give to someone who is beginning to write a novel? And why? I hope you are having a great day. Thank you very much!”

Study grammar. Look up any unfamiliar word before using it. Be careful about spelling. Get the basics solid.

Read, read, read. Read 19th century classics. Read the very best. And read trashy airport paperbacks. Learn the difference. What’s literary popcorn and what’s a six-course sit-down dinner with a white tablecloth?

Read good nonfiction. Read psychology and sociology and economics and history.

Read biographies and memoirs. Get out of your own head.

That’s good for a start.


5 thoughts on “Advice for a novice writer”

  1. Well said. After 47 years in the University classroom I would add one more. Have something to say. And that’s tough.

  2. I agree, Mary! I am a professional editor and a decent (but far from great) writer. I always advise aspiring writers to READ. It’s rather depressing that so many of them don’t read books. Reading is one of life’s great pleasures. And I don’t mean reading Facebook posts!

  3. Our schools need to believe and encourage this. Not only to help someone be a writer, but to help someone be a better reader.

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