Elegant Paragraph Links, Girls!

Posted on 21st August, 2014

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham.


That's the trouble, isn't it? No one knows what they are. But that doesn't stop writers seeking advice and there is an abundance of help out there - websites, blogs, workshops, courses, magazines and more How To books than you can shake a stick at. Writers are always on the look-out for ideas that will help them improve their craft.


I'm sure that most writers have adopted certain practices that have now become their "rules." So here (with a nod to W. Somerset Maugham) are my three:


Elegant paragraph links

My English teacher for most of my time at grammar school was Mrs Trueman. She was an excellent teacher with a wry sense of humour. I loved English anyway and her teaching made it even more of a pleasure.


Mrs Trueman had a thing about elegant paragraph links that enabled your writing to flow seamlessly from one idea to the next. To this day, whenever my writing gets a bit rocky, she pops into my head and I hear her voice saying "Elegant paragraph links, girls," and I go straight back to smooth things out as obediently as if I were still in 4A.


I didn't choose elegant paragraph links to be one of my personal rules. It was embedded in my consciousness by Mrs Trueman.


Don't stop writing today unless you know how you are going to start tomorrow

I came across this one in an author interview in one of the glossy Sunday magazines. I can picture myself reading it in my parents' living room, which means the paper was The Mail on Sunday; and I think the author was Elizabeth Jane Howard, though I couldn't swear to it.


I can't claim, hand on heart, that it's a rule I follow all the time, but I try to. A few notes can be all it takes to get things rolling the next day.


Don't get it right - get it written

This advice pops up all over the place. I met it for the first time when I started doing NaNoWriMo. My first NaNo write came to grief at 32,000 words because I did the one thing they warn you against - I went back and changed things and after that I didn't get back into the swing. But it taught me a lesson - storm through that first draft and save the editing for later.


So there we are: my personal three rules. I hope they might be useful to other writers, too. Elegant paragraph links, girls!


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Comments (2)

Thanks for a helpful post, Susanna. First drafts are the hardest part of writing for me as I like to edit and that slows me down.
This is an important element that's often neglected, but which is vital to a seamless reading experience. I enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing.