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Anne Donovan: New Writers

The author of 'Buddha Da' offers some advice and support to new writers

Read good writing.

Set aside time to write.

Don't think too much about the first draft. Start writing and let the character or the place or the idea take you where it wants to go.

Don't judge, edit or redraft a piece before you have really got it on the page. Just write it. Have fun.

When you are ready to move on to the redrafting stage be as ruthless as you can - you want it to be as good as you can possibly make it.

At the redrafting stage, ask questions of the piece: Is the right person telling this story? Should it be a first or third person narrative? Does it start and end at the right point in the narrative? Which parts don't feel right? Why?

Read your work aloud - listen to the rhythm of the words.

When you think it's finished, put it away for a while and get on with something else. Then look at it again after a gap - you'll often find you can see it afresh and edit with a clearer mind.

It's good to have someone you trust who will be both supportive and critical. If you are beginning to write, a class or writers' group can be very helpful, but it needs to be right for you.

If you are writing short stories or poems look for anthologies, magazines and competitions to send them to. It can help to give you a deadline to work towards.

If your work is turned down, keep sending it out (after further editing if appropriate). Different publications are looking for different things, and they don't always have space for everything they like.

If you do send work out, make sure it is double-spaced, correctly spelled and neatly presented according to the guidelines of the publication.

Don't give up.