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In this video, recorded for the Premier League, Dan shares his top writing tips.
You can also view the transcript below:
1. Use your own life experiences
This might sound simple, but it’s very important. Use experiences that have happened in your own life. For example, I went to visit a school in East London, and they had a football match in the school playground between the Teachers and the Pupils. It was the best atmosphere of any game I’ve ever seen! And, you’ve guessed it, when I wrote my next book, Skills From Brazil, it was all about Jamie Johnson playing in a school match against his teachers.
If you use things that have happened in your own life, you’re that much more confident about it and your story will flow.
2. Know your characters
It is vital that you really know your characters, and, when I say that, I mean all the little details. What’s their favourite type of pizza? What’s their middle name? What’s their biggest fear? What do they hope? What’s their biggest embarrassment? What’s their biggest secret?
If you know all those little facts about your characters, and where they’re really coming from, you’ll find that they can actually write your story for you, and, in the end, instead of thinking, “What am I going to write next?”, you think, “What will my character say about that? What will they want to do next?” They guide your story.
3. Don’t expect your first try to be perfect
Never think you have to write the perfect story first time round. None of us do. The way we write is not a moment; it’s a process. So, don’t think that you have to create your end story immediately. The way you should write is… you sit down, put something down on paper, then have a look at it, and see if there is anything you can improve. And it goes along like that. That is how we write and have no embarrassment about not thinking our story is perfect first-time round.
4. Have a plan
You wouldn’t build a house without having a design; story writing is the same. Know what it is going to look like. When I’m writing, I often get the end of the story first, which means that is what I am building towards. So have a plan, but also, don’t be afraid to change it… if the story has moved along the way, you can, too. You can always change your tactics!
5. Show that you care
Do you care about the character that you’re writing about? A good story is not really about sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, etc; those are important, but the most important thing about a story is if you care about what is happening to the character; how do you make yourself care? Put obstacles; difficulties; challenges in the way of your character to achieving their dreams. If you care, then we will care, and that is a good story.