A dead girl.
A wall of silence.
DI Maya Rahman is running out of time.
A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:
I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.
At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.
Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim.
Turn a Blind Eye is the first book in a brand-new series set in East London and starring DI Maya Rahman.
I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Vicky Newham to Have Books, Will Read to share with us her top writing tips. Over to Vicky….
With my first book just out, it would feel odd for me to start giving tips on writing so I will share the things I find helpful. Some, I’ve figured out for myself. Others, I’ve adopted from people who’ve been writing for a lot longer than me.
- It is worth knowing what some of the rules are about point-of-view, flashbacks, language, dialogue etc., and why they’re suggested, but the most important thing is to find out what works for you and the story you’re writing. That comes with trial, error and practice.
- A lot of the writing process takes place away from the keyboard so I try not to give myself a hard time if I’m doing stuff away from the computer. Writing involves: thinking, planning, doodling, researching, taking notes, revising, reading through and reading aloud.
- Giving and receiving feedback is a skill. While all input is worth reflecting on, it won’t all be useful. Think carefully about when to share your work and who with. The same is true of courses, manuscript assessments and edits. A lot of people will tell you how they would write your story or how they think you should write your story.
- I use TTS (text-to-speech) software regularly. In Word, on my phone or Kindle. I read my work aloud, but I also listen to what I’ve written via TTS. As it doesn’t require the effort and concentration that reading aloud does, I can focus my attention on my words and story. An added bonus is that it reveals punctuation errors as it pauses at punctuation points.
- Read as a writer. When I’m reading a novel or story, I find it useful to reflect on how the author has used structure, language and narrative techniques. I think about the plot, themes and characters, and where it fits in the market. It does spoil reading ‘for pleasure’ but it really helps to understand what contemporary writers are doing and how.
- It is pointless comparing your writing to other people’s. Your style, use of language, topics and themes, and how you approach them, will be uniquely yours. I find it useful to be aware of what I think my strengths and weaknesses are as a writer. I try to be happy with them, while continually striving to develop and improve.
- Daily targets and discipline do help. Whether it’s a word-count for the first draft or numbers of chapters when I’m rewriting and editing, I find it helps to have goals and be disciplined. Mood and muse are fickle friends, so I approach it as a job and get on with it. Plus – biscuits.
- Write about things which fire you up. It helps to stay interested in your story when you’ve re-written and read it through eleventy-billion times – and then have to do it all again.
- Accept that some people will like your writing and others won’t. It might be your topic, characters, style, you as a person, envy. Who knows? It’s not worth worrying about.
- Define your own terms for success and try to be happy with what you achieve. There are many ways to be ‘a writer’ and many paths to publication. In addition, there are all sorts of setbacks, successes and achievements along the way. The path isn’t linear and people move along it at different speeds, and invariably – like snakes and ladders – we all ascend and descend with a crash at some point. Biscuits.
(What did I say about rules?) Finally, the thing I find most useful is that I genuinely love all aspects and stages of writing. If you need to earn an income, it’s not so simple but it really helps if you can enjoy the whole thing.
The lovely people at HQ are offering 3 lucky readers a copy of Turn A Blind Eye….head over to my Twitter and follow the instructions in the pinned tweet 🙂
Vicky Newham is the author of the DI Maya Rahman police procedural series which is set in East London. The first book, TURN A BLIND EYE, will be published on April 5th 2018, and has been optioned for television by Playground Entertainment. The second, OUT OF THE ASHES, will be published on April 4th 2019.
Vicky has drawn on her Psychology background and her experiences of living and working in East London to write the books in the series. She studied Psychology at university and taught GCSE/A-level Psychology for 10 years before moving to Whitstable, Kent where she now lives with her cockerpoo dog.