There are many ways to write a book, says Trudi Canavan. Figure out what works for you.

One of the more frequent questions I am asked is what advice I would give to new writers. My first response is usually “have fun!”. If an author is really enjoying the story they are writing the chances are the reader will too. And really, if writing is torture why would you want to make a career out of it?


But new writers usually want more than that. More than me directing them to my writing advice page on my blog, as well. But unless I’m running a workshop, I almost never have time to elaborate, so my answer is this:

1. Read lots.
2. Write lots.
3. Get lots of feedback.
4. Don’t pay too much attention to writing rules.

Why no. 4? Well, for every writing ‘rule’ out there is an author who succeeded in getting published while breaking it. I know of published authors who ignored one of the three pieces of advice above, and did just fine.

So why pay attention to my first three points? Firstly, it’s what worked for me, and it’s me who is being asked for advice. Secondly, I’m not the only one advocating the first three points. Most authors do, or at least two out of three of the points, which is a good sign they’re worth something.

You see, people who break the rules successfully are an exception. Maybe you will too, but the odds are against you. I’m all for improving the odds.

I’m all for grading the writing advice you get. A writer with several successful books, who has won awards and teaches writing regularly probably knows what they’re talking about. But even one who hasn’t half of that resume can still have a lot of great wisdom to impart.

There are a lot of well-intentioned “Ten Ways to x” and “Five Rules for y” lists out there containing plenty of contradictory advice, and that’s where you ought to be the most cautious. Ask not just ‘why should I believe this person?’ but also ‘does this apply for me?”. Because with so much advice out there you can probably find someone who’ll tells you exactly what you want to hear… which isn’t always a good thing. So, take it all with a grain of salt, as they say. There are many ways of writing a book. See what works for you.

Ultimately you want to write a good book. It doesn’t matter if you write it quickly or slowly, a big or small book, a book in first person, second or third or a combination, if it was written during the early hours of the morning, at the midnight hour or during office hours, by hand, typewriter, computer or phone, at the coffee shop while smoking a cigar, or while standing on your head…

… so long as it’s a good book.

And you have fun writing it.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 8.25.04 amIn a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces.
Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it – should she dare to risk the Angels’ wrath.
But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands.
Not even the people they trust.


Trudi Canavan is an Australian writer of fantasy novels, best known for her best-selling fantasy trilogies The Black Magician and Age of the Five. While establishing her writing career she worked as a graphic designer.

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