#WriteTips From The 2016 Judges.

- Read! Read! Read! This is the writer’s greatest teacher

- Writing is work. Work at it – practice makes perfect

- When you have written ‘The End’ – put the piece aside for some time before you publish it

- Revise ... revise ... revise

- Criticism ... welcome it; don’t defend yourself or your work. Take it home and consider it a gift and use it as you see fit. Not all of it will be good. It is up to you, the creator of your work to see what seems to make sense.

- Trust your gut feeling – after all, it is your work, comes out of you, your creation


H J Golakai  

- Never work hungry – truly, don’t be a bloody hero. You’ll have to toss most of it when you read it back later with a glucose-happy brain.

- Don’t try and ‘sell’ your voice. It takes awhile to sound like yourself but that’s the joy of the thing, evolving. Never write for the sake of perfecting a style. Pour yourself into your story because that’s what matters. Some great author said the perfection of style signals the demise of your imagination, and I really believe that. Trust your characters to tell you what your story will sound like.

- You can never read enough. Ever. I recently found myself reading a thriller on my phone at a funeral. Did I feel like the biggest buttwipe on the planet? – definitely. Did I stop? – hell no.

- Get a bunch of voracious readers and/or good writers to show your work to. Feedback is essential. Many younger writers make the mistake of being so afraid of criticism that they squirrel their work away, yet they’re puzzled as to why they can’t find a publisher or win a competition. Because you sound terrible, and there’s no one but you to tell you that. Make your circle bigger.

- Stop worrying about winning competitions, getting famous or even finding a publisher. Seriously, stop. Get the work ready and it will find a home.

Create a daily writing regimen and do your best to stick to it. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. Just try and do a little bit of writing or editing every day.


Tendai Huchu

- Leave completed manuscript in the fridge-freezer for as long as possible.

- Procrastinate – it helps.

- Get a beta reader you trust.

 - Retrieve hacksaw and scalpel from toolbox, collect manuscript from fridge and proceed to hack away.

- Call Batman.






#WriterWednedsay #Writetips

You may have noticed we've been featuring some amazing African writers in our #WriterWednesday slot. We've been collecting their editing and writing tips for you, too. Here's a round up of editing tips from the writers we interviewed in May and June. 

You can read their interviews by clicking their names.

Tendai Huchu

  1. Leave completed manuscript in the fridge-freezer for as long as possible.

  2. Procrastinate – it helps.

  3. Get a beta reader you trust.

  4.  Retrieve hacksaw and scalpel from toolbox, collect manuscript from fridge and proceed to hack away.

  5. Call Batman.

Henrietta Rose-Innes

  1. I write exclusively on screen, but towards the later stages of a piece I find it helps to print it out. I like to print work in different formats for reading over – recently I've been setting pages so as to mimic the size, font and layout of a printed book spread. It helps me to see the little mistakes or problems, which leap out at me differently when things are rearranged.

  2. Also, I quite often print out a section of a work in progress, physically cut it up and rearrange the bits on my floor. This helps me to visualise the architecture of the piece and to solve bigger structural problems. This is useful if, like me, you can struggle with overarching structure, or if you are a visual thinker. 

Iain S Thomas

  1. There’s a saying in the legal system, a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. The same is true for editing – get someone else to edit your work. Even if you disagree with what they've done, seeing their changes will make you sure of what you've done.

  2. There is a natural music to language, read your work out aloud constantly.  

  3. Grammar is the science and art of knowing when and how to breathe. Use your poetic license and any punctuation you want to make the most beautiful sentences possible, without ever making them jarring and horrible to the eye. But never use an ellipses. Ever…

  4. Writing and editing are two completely different acts, never edit as your write and don’t write as you edit. First, write crazy, whatever you want, like a maniac. But then always edit like a cold-hearted serial killer. As Mark Twain said, “Kill all your darlings.” 

 Lauri Kubuitsile

  1. The best editing tip I have is read your work out loud.  It really helps. I even read entire novels out loud.

  2.  I’m sure we’ve all heard this before, don’t be precious. Slash what must be slashed. If it is very painful, cut and paste that wonderful bit of writing somewhere else. Maybe someday it will find a new home. It likely won’t, but it helps the heart to save it somewhere.