Inspiring aspiring authors: tips from a Man Booker Prize shortlisted author

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get shortlisted for a prize like the Man Booker? Our course leader for the MA Publishing at Kingston University, Dr. Alison Baverstock, recently wrote an interesting piece for the Independent on the patterns of behaviour of a ‘would-be author’.

Alison interviewed first-time novelist Alison Moore, who was shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize with The Lighthouse; they talked about the beginning of Moore’s career, meeting deadlines and the encouragement to go on.

Here are the patterns of behaviour likely to benefit a first-time writer, as listed by Alison:

1. Access your time. If life-changing events (having a baby) mean that the big chunks of writing time you formerly relied upon (weekends, Christmas, the summer holidays) are no longer routinely available, try to harvest other opportunities.

2. Give yourself a deadline. It tightens the creative brain and can help promote the heady state of writerly full flow that psychologists call “subliminal uprush” and is lyrically described in Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer – although, personally, I have always thought it feels more like a form of projectile vomiting.

3. Challenge yourself. Moore entered a series of short story competitions. In 2008, she was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and success in the Manchester Fiction Prize followed.

4. Find an informed encourager. In her case, the generous Nicholas Royle, author, editor and publisher-at-large. He was Manchester’s chair of the judges and recommended her to Salt Publishing.

5. Pay attention to rich resources for writing around you. Moore says that “I think that working at ‘real’ jobs is very valuable for feeding the writing, for taking the writer out of their comfort zone or exposing them to potentially interesting environments”.

6. Get your timing right. Long out of favour with traditional publishers, the short story has of late been given a new lease of life through its handily downloadable format and ideal length for the tablet-equipped commuter.

You can read the full article on the  Independent website.


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