Shari Low is a journalist as well as the author of six novels including The Motherhood Walk of Fame, My Best Friend’s Lifeand, most recently, A Brand New Me. Shari says of herself, ‘I live in Glasgow with my husband and two young boys who are still at the stage where they think anything toxic that emerges from the body is hilarious. I’m hoping that wears off by the time they start dating! The boys and a recent trip to LA were the inspiration for my novel, The Motherhood Walk Of Fame. In my case, the rule “write what you know” definitely applies – although, unlike the main character, I didn’t have the opportunity to have an affair with an A-list movie star – Brad Pitt’s security wall was just too damn high. But Brad, if you’re reading this. . . ‘ Shari took time out of her busy schedule to give us her top writing tips and essential reads.
Shari’s top 5 writing tips
- Don’t panic. Except, to be honest, I do. All the time. I’m forever fretting that the funny lines wont come, or that I’ll get to the end of the day and decide to consign the 3000 words I’ve just toiled over straight to the recycle bin. I’ve decided to accept the stress, the fear and the inevitable stomach ulcers.
- If it feels right, then write from the heart, not the textbook. Creative writing teachers, look away now. I’m afraid I don’t plot my story out before hand, I don’t draw up a framework, I don’t write several drafts. . . I just sit down and let the book reveal itself as my fingers fly over the keyboard (getting faster with each large cup of high grade caffeine). I have absolutely no idea how the story will develop, how relationships will grow or fail, or what dramas will befall my characters until I actually write each chapter. Even stranger, I have absolutely no idea how the book will end until the day I write the last line. With The Motherhood Walk Of Fame, the ending was as big a surprise to me as anyone else.
- Have at least one character that you could fall in love with. Not ideal if your novel is a science fiction masterpiece about a space station inhabited only by robots and monkeys, but in the romantic comedy genre I find it gives the love story honesty and depth. And it also makes the sexy scenes far more interesting. Nothing beats spending an afternoon dreaming up raunchy things to do with a 6ft lovable, finely formed, well-endowed Adonis.
- Bribe your children. My boys are both under 10 and we’ve worked out a mutually beneficial deal – one hour of peace and quiet for mum to write equals one hour of footie down the park followed by ice cream/juice/Sponge Bob Square Pants double bill. I’m sure Jackie Collins/Daphne Du Maurier/Jane Austin reached the same compromise.
- Never underestimate the motivational power of biscuits and eBay. When my inspiration is failing, my imagination is blocked and my enthusiasm is still under the duvet, I allow myself 15 minutes filled with tea, HobNobs and eBay surfing. I invariably spot something ridiculously expensive that I’d love to buy but can’t afford. There’s nothing like rampant materialism to focus the mind on putting in the work to earn those sparkly new strappy heels.
Find out more about Shari at her website www.sharilow.com