Marian Keyes’ top tips for new writers

For the sixth year running, we’ve teamed up with Grazia to launch the 2016 Grazia and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction First Chapter competition, with the aim of finding a new, unpublished female writing star.

This year, helping us in our quest is Marian Keyes, bestselling author of 13 acclaimed novels and four non-fiction books (most recently The Woman Who Stole My Life).

Marian wrote the opening paragraph of a story – and we challenged you to finish the first chapter. The entries are now all in and judging has taken place. The winner will be announced at the Baileys Prize awards ceremony next Wednesday.

We caught up with Marian at the judging meeting and she was kind enough to share with us her top tips for new writers.

Be authentic

Don’t try and set yourself up as the new anyone else. Find your own voice and be proud of it. And stick with it. They say write what you know, but I don’t necessarily agree with that because the whole point of writing is about using your imagination. But if you’re going to write about a world that isn’t familiar to you, research it well.

It’s all about the re-write

Expect to be absolutely horrified by your first few attempts. There’s going to be an absolutely enormous gap between how your book is in your head and how it appears on the page. It is all about reworking, rewriting and going back again and again. Cliche klaxon(!), but they say writing is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration and that really is the case. So much of it is about the re-writing.

Take pride in it

I would say, enjoy it! Take pleasure in it. Write for your own pride and try not to think about anybody else reading it because you’ll be far more unfettered in what you actually write.

To stay in the loop with the winner of this year’s First Chapter competition and for more information on the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, follow us on  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.