Monday, 26 August 2013

Jasper Fforde on writing and getting published

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to sit down with Jasper Fforde and pick his brain about writing and getting published.  This is the man who gets on the best seller lists every time a new Thursday Next book comes out, so he knows what he is doing.

His first warning was not to write "me too" books, copying something that is already out there.  This is worth remembering these days where if one book becomes outrageously successful a glut of "me too" books follow as writers and publishers try to cash in on the originals success.  Jasper said there is always new ground to be broken as a writer.

He stressed not to let thoughts of selling the book be your main motivation for writing it - write to entertain yourself.  If you enjoy it, other people will.  If you write something that is not 'you' it will come through in the writing.  He drew the analogy of meeting someone for the first time; you draw conclusions as to what type of person they are and if you spend six hours in their company you know if they are being genuine.

Jasper said the most enjoyable part of writing for him is the "downward canter towards the end with about twenty thousand words left to go" and he said there is always a point in the middle of the book where you are not sure where the book is going.  This is when most aspiring writers give up.  This is the part you must continue through.  Your novel will have several threads weaving through it and one of these will get you to the end.  If you are finding it hard think about what the character really wants.

If you wish to be a professional writer Jasper warned of e publishing; your first few books probably won't be very good and if you put them on the Internet they will be out there forever and may put people off reading your later, better books.  He said it takes about eight to ten books in before you have really learnt your craft as a writer and have produced a really good book.  To help you get there he said writing something, anything, every day - a journal entry, a short poem...  Keep your hand in and practise your craft every day.

Jasper's advice in summary is - if you want a ten year career as a writer keep going and write every day.  By your eighth book you might have something good enough to sell.


I spoke to Jasper Fforde at the Fforde Ffiesta which happens every eighteen months in Swindon (home of Thursday Next).  The next one is in May 2015 and details can be found at www.ffordeffiesta.co.uk 

A small group of seven people have now been challenged to complete a first draft of fifty thousand plus words by the next Ffiesta - although we are expecting one and a half books from Mr Fforde and one of the writers is creating a graphic novel so we've agreed half of it should be complete as it has the extra challenge of words and pictures - you can follow Roger's blog at http://rogermasonstrips.blogspot.co.uk/ 

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