Now I'm well on with the sequel to In the Moors and I'm trying not to make the same, silly mistakes I made the first time round. Most of these mistakes are the very things that every published author warns against; they're the things I constantly tell my students not to do.
Don't overwrite, I always say in my tutor reports. Murder your darlings! But I've just read, in the draft of my next Shaman Mystery, lines as toe-curling as My stomach felt as if it were filling with acid...was that me? Did I write that? Yes,and that might be because because other authors do, too. I've just read the most appalling line in A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson She stared into me hard enough to see the texture of my organs.. ugh!
Don't, I urge my students, please don't forget that within the world you've created, everything must have its own plausibility. But I sat in my agent's kitchen, gripping my cup of tea, to hear Lisa say...the reveal still doesn't convince me, Nina. The characters are only behaving in that way to allow you the ending you're after... My defence? Well, all the the thrillers I've read do that...
What have I learnt from this? Be true to your own writing. For a time, it’s fine to imitate structure, plotting and the writing voices that you love - that’s one of the reasons I recommend reading so many books and read voraciously myself. Although there is nothing wrong with copying the great exemplars, and your own favourite authors, this should just be part of the growing process and will be left behind as the writer gains confidence in their own voice.