1--Write every day. Every day. You cannot create a viable novel trying to write weekends or on holidays or whenever the spirit moves you.

2--In addition to the broader realities, research the quotidian details of your historical period carefully.

3--For tip number three, don't overlook the websites Internet Archive and Google Books. They both have millions of fully scanned books and volumes of magazines published prior to 1924. At the latter site all the books are word searchable before downloading them.

4--Research in character, letting the details emerge that your character would respond to. You will find actual plot turns can flow from the historically apt scent of a perfume, the paving in a street, the lock on a door.

5--Do not begin to write until you understand the goals, objectives, desires, yearnings of your central character.

6--Remember that plot is simply yearning challenged and thwarted.

7--Be always aware that the reader's experience of a work of fiction is to see and hear it in her head. You are creating a cinema of the mind. The pioneer of modern film techniques, D. W. Griffith, credited one man with teaching him all he knew about film: Charles Dickens. You must keep that movie going by staying entirely rooted in the moment, in the senses. Just like a movie.

8--Therefore, write as soon as you awake. Your medium, language, is not innately sensual. By writing after sleeping you will have cleared your linguistic palate by the utter sensuality of your dreams. To preserve the benefits of this you must go straight to work without engaging language at all--no email, no newspaper, no TV news, no magazine-reading in the loo--thus insulating your work from the clutter of all the abstract, anti-cinematic words that will inevitably invade your head for the rest of the day.

9--Don't hold yourself to a fixed plot outline. Let your characters, in pursuit of their goals and yearnings, find their own way.

10--Your best writing does not come from your head. It comes from your own unconscious, from your own white-hot centre.

Robert Olen Butler’s latest book, "The Star of Istanbul" is published by No Exit Press (£8.99). Robert is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of sixteen novels, six story collections and a book on the creative process. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction, two Pushcart Prizes and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He has trained as an actor, worked as a reporter and served as a counter-intelligence special agent in Vietnam.

The Star of Istanbul

The Star of Istanbul

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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