10 Top British Writers Share Their Tips For Writing Success

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Ask any writer how they approach writing and they’ll all give you different answers. Quentin Tarantino insists on writing drafts of his screenplays in long hand without outlining plot twists … But that approach definitely wouldn’t work for those more methodical planners!

But whether you’re the kind of writer who likes to wing it as you go along, or prefers to write a detailed outline before you get started, there are some things successful writers often have in common.

With this in mind, here are ten top British writers on their tips for success!

1) Just Get Started

“The stressful time is the blank page at the beginning. When you’re starting to see things being made flesh, and you’re able to respond to that flesh, that’s really exciting.” – Jack Thorne

2) Make Your First Episode Your Strongest

“I think it’s hugely important to have a strong episode one; you can lose an audience so quickly now. You can’t afford to take the attitude that you will use the first one as an introduction and save the high drama for later.”  – Jed Mercurio 

MORE: Jed Mercurio: ‘Storytelling Is About Creating A Chain Reaction’

3) Embrace The Fear

“Feeling intimidated is a good sign. Writing from a place of safety produces stuff that is at best dull and at worst dishonest.” – Lucy Prebble

4) Write Real, Complex Characters

“If you can write a character who is attractive but morally reprehensible, then you’ve got a character. It’s got to feel like people I know and it doesn’t just become a bag of tricks.” – Jez Butterworth

MORE: Top 7 Writing Tips for Great Characterisation

5) Find The Element of Surprise

“The element of surprise is the most important thing and what keeps me interested in writing. I can feel it if I’ve written that predictable or boring line, and I will carry that around with me all day.” – Phoebe Waller-Bridge

MORE: 10 Lessons On Writing Women From Phoebe Waller-Bridge

6) Make Sure Writing Has Conflict

“I always try to create conflict and drama in my books; it’s the engine of the novel.” – Monica Ali

MORE: The Secret of Writing Great Conflict In Scenes: 3 Examples

7) Find The Heart In The Story

“I think that, as a writer, while it’s your job to construct stories, you have to navigate your way through them with your heart.” – Abi Morgan

8) Keep It Short

“I think comedies should be short. Not that I want to be self-indulgent; I don’t want a two-hour comedy.” – Ricky Gervais

9) Don’t Worry About Everyone Liking Your Work

“Unless you consider yourself some sort of human brand, which I don’t, you have to deal with the fact that different people are going to like different aspects of your work.” – Zadie Smith

10) Keep Going After Rejections

“If you are going to be a writer, you have to have self-belief. Every writer gets rejections, they say the difference between a successful and unsuccessful writer is an unsuccessful writer gives up.” – Anthony Horowitz

MORE: 1 Important Thing To Remember About Rejection

What can we learn from these British writers?

Every writer has a different approach to writing that works for them … Let’s face it, we don’t all have the patience to write everything in long hand! But these key pieces of advice from British writers are relevant for to ALL writers, no matter what medium you are working in. Ensure your story has conflict, complex characters, and heart. If you’ve got all those covered, you’re halfway there!

Good Luck!

BIO: Joanna is an actor making the move into script reading and production. Follow her at @jomillerbetts.

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