A Master Class in Writing

1616732_10151884139917312_2033939124_nWriting a book is only the beginning. Once the first draft is semi-readable, it’s usually passed to beta-readers for feedback – that’s when you polish off your chainmail, some comments can be hard to take! Still, it’s a necessary evil and one that has stood me in good stead for my first two novels (The Runaway Year and The Haunting of Highdown Hall – coming soon). But… working on my third novel – The Runaway Ex – a sequel to The Runaway Year, I ran into problems – big time. I knew certain things weren’t working – chapter 1 for a start (which being chapter 1 is always a problem) and the inclusion perhaps of too  much information from the first book that wasn’t needed (‘perhaps?’ ahem!). I needed help – expert help, the advice of an old pro – but which old pro? I didn’t know any.

Well, I researched and John Hudspith’s name came up time and time again – I’d ask him! John (that’s him above, looking all coy!) runs Master Classes in writing – all done via email with various steps to follow in order for you to realise where you’re going wrong and, most importantly, where you’re going right!

He was only too happy to take me on. What an MC it turned out to be! ‘Get rid of your first chapter entirely,’ was John’s advice. I mean, I had suspicions it might be bad but really… ? ‘Yes, really!’  ‘You waffle,’ was another criticism, ‘stick to the story.’ Oh and yeah, ‘release back story in snippets, not all in one go,’ – he told me that too. Steeling myself I followed his guidelines exactly.  And you know what? I got myself a first chapter that made so much more sense and a story that didn’t keep going off on (uninteresting) tangents. But not only that, I gained a blueprint for future projects too (I shall always, always stick to the story and not veer off anywhere untoward from now on John, promise!!!).

John was fabulous to deal with, he’s direct but he’s funny with it and very encouraging. I thought I knew loads by the time I came to novel number 3 but I made basic mistakes and he showed me how to fix them, from this point onwards I hope! John’s also very quick, which, as an impatient soul, I really appreciated. So, if you’re stuck on a WIP, if you need guidance, if you just don’t know who to turn to next – I’ve got one word for you – John! He really does have great analytical instinct for what works and what doesn’t, and certainly knows how to explain his findings in the simplest of ways.

Find out all about him and the services he provides here:




5 thoughts on “A Master Class in Writing

  1. Hi Shani and hello John. Have filed his addy away for another time. I try not to worry too much about the novel on first draft . I think the main thing is to get your ideas on paper and not to bother about inconsistencies – they’ll get sorted out in subsequent drafts. As you say, Beta Readers and friends are very useful but they still want to be your friend at the end of the process! Sometimes they pull their punches when they should just come right out and tell it like it is. I loved TRY and can’t wait to read your paranormal. In the meantime, excuse me, I have a novel to write.

    • Hi Lizzie, John is excellent even if some of his comments made me sniffle a bit (oh, alright, a whole lot actually but he was right, damn it and I knew it!). He made me sit back, take stock and try again – much, much harder. Because of him book No.4 will start very differently too and I’ll aim to keep action-centred too (although I do like the odd bit of waffle I have to say – it’s a girl thing I told him!). Yep, a true gem, I’m lucky to know him. xxx ps yes, write that novel, I want to read it!!!!

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