Barbara Copperthwaite is the author of psychological thrillers Invisible and Flowers for the Dead. Both were self-published and have been Amazon best sellers.
In October Barbara signed with Bookouture (an imprint of Hachette) and her latest book, The Darkest Lies, was published on May 12.
Before turning to fiction, Barbara spent more than twenty years as a national journalist and editor, working on household titles such as Chat, Woman, and Best. She’s interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she believes she knows the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That’s why her novels are dark, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.
My Top Three Tips For Writers
1. Write your way
I appreciate the irony of my first piece of advice on writing being to take other people’s writing advice with a pinch of salt…
My first two books were written for the sheer pleasure of it, and I really enjoyed the journey I was taken on with them because I didn’t know where the plot was going. But because they both did quite well, I wanted to do even better next time and decided to take my writing more seriously. I read up on how other authors tackled their work, and suddenly felt that I wasn’t a ‘proper’ author; because, unlike other others, I wasn’t carefully plotting the entire book beforehand. I tried it with my third book, and it was a horrible experience. I only completed the novel once I threw the plan out of the window.
My point isn’t that plotting and planning is wrong, it’s that it’s wrong for me. So by all mean listen to advice, and take on tips that suit you, but don’t twist yourself in knots to try to be something you’re not. Just write, in whatever way works for you.
2. Don’t be intimidated by your first draft
‘The book that was supposed to be your masterpiece is a horrible mess, with whole sections that are poorly-written, and a plot that doesn’t quite tie up – so what’s the point in carrying on with it? Better to just abandon it now.’
Sound familiar? I’ll let you into a secret: everyone’s first draft is the same. That’s the entire point of a first draft! It’s a rough and ready version, a set of notes almost, but from that you can rewrite sections, see exactly how you can tie up the plot, and smooth the edges of characters while breathing life into scenes. But you can only do all of that if you stop wasting time beating yourself up about your first draft being awful, and just finish it.
3. Read aloud
Sometimes it’s easy to miss mistakes because our eyes skim over them; we’re too close to our work. Reading aloud highlights any problems with the rhythm of a sentence, or clunky dialogue.
To find out more about Barbara, go to Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraCopperthwaite), Twitter (www.twitter.com/BCopperthwait), the website www.barbaracopperthwaite.com, or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/author_barbara_copperthwaite/).