Radio Scotland - Days Like This

Irvine Welsh's Tips

Irvine Welsh, the bestselling author of Trainspotting, Filth and, most recently, Crime suggests ways to get started in writing your story.

Irvine Welsh


  • If you can't think about a specific day, think about some everyday objects, or look at old pictures.
  • Read some of the Days Like This stories on the website to give you some ideas.
  • You can also discuss it with a friend and ask what their special day would be – that might give you some ideas.
  • Think of important people in your life – those long standing or perhaps people who came into your life momentarily. What memories come to mind?
  • Think of the stories you find yourself telling friends or neighbours, stories that come up at a dinner or at the pub – write it down as you would tell it.

Getting started

  • Tell your story to a friend and ask them to scribble it for you – you can then work on something rather than sit in front of an empty page.
  • Try writing for 5 minutes about a day in your life without stopping to think. This might not be the beginning of your story, but it might show you that it is pretty easy to write about a day. Ideas might start flowing then.
  • Get a bit of paper and make a mind map. Jot down all the things that come to mind about the day or event. Who was there, what happened, what was the weather like etc and build up a picture in words that you can then put into story form.

Style and language

  • Style is not important, what matters is the content of the story – think of something that might surprise people, or might resonate with them.
  • Feel free to use Scots language if you feel more comfortable writing in it – or just use it in dialogues if you want.
  • Stories written in Gaelic or a foreign language can be translated.
  • Please don't use offensive language.

Writing a good story

  • The story should be personal. Personal thoughts, ideas and experiences will make your story seem real. You should be the main character of the story.
  • Feelings are important. Talk about whether you were happy, scared, sad etc., and how what happened made other people feel.
  • Make sure you describe things using all your senses (smell, hearing, touch)
  • Have a focus for your story.
  • Don't repeat words unless making a point.
  • Try writing the story the way you speak. It sounds less formal and distant.
  • Your story doesn't have to be long.
  • It can help to start with a strong first sentence.
  • Think about how you will end your story. Will there be a twist? Will you be reflecting about what happened that day many years later? Will it be dramatic or funny?

Remember, everyone has a story to tell. Yours is as interesting as anyone else's!

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