Guest Blog

Ten Great Pointers for Budding Authors

by Duncan Lay

I often get asked if I have any advice for budding authors who are trying to get their work ready for submission. I always say that unless you have spent months rewriting and editing, it is not ready for submission. This is the most important step in the process, as it can be the difference between grabbing a publisher’s attention and being rejected.

As sending in your book far too early is a crime that every author is guilty of, here is my top 10 tips for rewiring and editing.

1) Re-read until you are absolutely sick of reading your work and feel you must hurl something out of a window. Then do it once more.

2) Try to add layers each time you go through the book. One rewrite can be totally from the perspective of a particular main character. Then go back and rewrite from all the other characters’ perspectives, taking into account the changes you have made.

3) Isolate the minor characters. Pull out all the sections featuring one of them and copy into a separate document. Read that and see if they are consistent/interesting/important to the story. Makes changes if you have to.

4) Try and write over your word limit. Put in everything you can. It does not matter if not all of it works, you can trim it out later. But working through a manuscript you know is 10-20,000 words over the limit forces you to be ruthless with every sentence.

5) Use CTRL+F to check on repeated words. I fall into the trap of using words such as roared, groaned, grumbled far too much. CRTL+F finds all those instances. It can be surprising and a little horrifying to see how many times you have used a certain word. And it highlights times when you have used it 2-3 occasions on the same page – another no-no.

6) Check your chapter spacing. When you are moving stuff around, you can have very long chapters sometimes. Trim and/or break into two.

7) Stop and think about plot. Is it logical? Is there another way for the action to move forwards? Have you got internal as well as external action? External action is something that happens to your characters, like being attacked. Internal action is how that changes them and changes their relationship with other characters.

8) Stop and think and characters. Are they behaving consistently? Are you forcing them to do things they normally would not? Or, worse, are they justifying themselves endlessly?

9) Put the computer away for a fortnight. Keep a pad by your bed instead to make notes as your brain works through things.

10) Be ruthless with subplots. If they are not working, ditch them.

Duncan Lay is the author of the Dragon Sword Histories trilogy, the Empire of Bones trilogy (both HarperCollins) and the Arbalester’s Tale trilogy (Pan Macmillan)

Duncan’s Links:

Duncan’s Website:

Duncan’s Twitter: Twitter

Duncan’s Facebook: Facebook

Duncan’s LinkedIn: LinkedIn

Duncan’s YouTube Channel: YouTube

Some of Duncan’s published works:


The Camden Writers Inc hopes you enjoy this month’s guest blog.


If you have not done it already, click here to like us and follow us on Facebook!