Advice I’d Like to Receive by M.A. Purcell | Resources | Developing Your Craft
M.A. Purcell

M.A. Purcell

There’s a part of me scoffing to think that I am in any position to offer advice to would-be writers. Me, so newly minted that the dust cover of my book (if it had one) would be totally uncreased. And yet it interests me to see what advice I could give on the subject. And to tease out the advice I’d like to get if I was starting out again.

What is advice anyway? Someone’s opinion at worst or the fruits of someone’s experience at best. So, I’ll offer a little bit of both and hope that my words can transmute a budding writer into a full-blown author.

I use words as the starting point because they are the seeds that one plants on a blank page to create a story. I love words. Long ones, short ones, unusual ones, forgotten ones, words are grist to my mill. I love the feel of them on my tongue. The way the conjure up a picture, an idea or an emotion. The whole what, where, how and why of a story depends on the way words are used. Not only that, but pronouncing a word can bring its own form of delight.

The twists and turns of a word like ostentatious, the innocence of nosegay, the shambling ineptitude of hapless, the instant understanding of a word like whinge. And the picture they paint if you put them together. The hapless hero dropped the ostentatious nosegay. Can’t you just see him, shabby, bumbling, the fancy flowers he found on the sidewalk and plans to woo his lady with, landing in the gutter as he trips when handing them to her. Or whatever it is your imagination comes up with. That’s the beauty of words. They belong to everyone but the story they create is yours alone.

And then there’s reading.

Finding HannahEvery aspiring writer needs to read, books, magazines, newspapers, the back of the muesli box. In fact, anything that will give one an appreciation of how words can be used, to describe, to titillate, to inform and to tell a story. Not just to tell it but to draw the reader in and have them there, in every scene, rooting for this character, fighting with that one, scooping one from the jaws of disaster, pushing the other over the cliff with a good riddance. Reading alerts the mind to the difference between stringing words together to make sentences that add up to a story and crafting ones that brings a story alive in your blood and bones. A gift or a skill or a mixture of both that all good storytellers have.

The final piece of advice to all budding writers is so obvious it’s sometimes overlooked. As tips go it should probably be the only one that’s needed.

To become a writer, one needs to write!

Writing like any job, hobby or calling gets better with practice. And regular practice becomes a habit and bring with it an automaticity that allows our creative juices flow when we sit in a certain chair, make our coffee in a particular mug or open the laptop first thing in the morning.

Also practise flourishes where there’s a reason for it. It helps one to concentrate the mind to write by taking workshops, joining a writing group and entering competitions. All these things hone one’s skills and opens one to different ideas and concepts. One of the delights of a writing group is the diverse voices one is exposed to, the genres that normally would hold no interest for us that are introduced to our psyche under the radar as you might say. It is truly astonishing how a group of people can take a prompt and return it with a multitude of totally different interpretations, ideas and stories. From serious to comic, with radical and bizarre in between, it’s a revelation. And in the safety of a like-minded group, a critique is simply advice to make your writing better.

So that’s my tuppence worth.

In a nutshell, fall in love with words, read widely across as many genres as your head and purse allows ­ remember the libraries are a brilliant asset and they’re free ­ and write, every day if you can, otherwise as often as possible.

I’ve written this on the premise that the advice we’d like to give ourselves it the most beneficial advice for us, I believe that all the above lurks in all our writer orientated minds in some form or another. And that given the opportunity as writers, that’s what we’d do anyway.

That said wasn’t it Agatha Christie that is reputed to have said ­ “Good advice is always certain to be ignored but that’s no reason not to give it?

Happy writing everyone.

(c) M.A. Purcell

About Finding Hannah by M.A. Purcell:

Finding HannahEx-detective Thomas Tegan, known to his friends as Trout, and his associate Lauren O’Loughlin have opened a private investigation agency in their home village of Knocknaclogga. TLCI (Tegan, O’Loughlin Consultant Investigation) is awaiting its first official client.

Then Lauren’s cousin Marina Offenbach arrives from London, hysterical and blaming her for the disappearance of her daughter Hannah, Lauren’s godchild. The London police have traced a girl, potentially Hannah, to the Fishguard-Rosslare ferry to Ireland.

Lauren and Trout set out to find Hannah – only to discover that someone else is trying to track her down. Someone who appears to have a lot of money riding onher disappearing and staying that way. Someone who has already killed to ensure that he isn’t thwarted.

They follow a convoluted trail across southern Ireland in their search for the missing girl and a friend, David, who seems to have taken her under his wing.

As the race to find Hannah gathers momentum, they find that the kindness of strangers is keeping her safe but also helping her to remain elusive.

Can they reach her before her MALICIOUS pursuer does?

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Marianne Purcell is a Clare woman to her core, born in the townland of Caher in East Clare & living near the village of Feakle, well known for its traditional music heritage. She is an avid reader & has long held the ambition to become an author. She has written the Feakle notes for the Clare Champion for many years & has enjoyed success as a short story writer. She was delighted to win the Ireland’s Own open short story competition two years ago & has had several stories published in the magazine since. She became part of a writer’s group facilitated by author Tanya Farrelly during lock-down & this further encouraged her to take the plunge & put on paper one of the many stories bubbling in her brain.
Marianne recently retired from her job as a Respiratory Scientist. She is married with six grown-up children and loves to have her darling grandchildren visit.

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