How to write a book (with apologies to Mark Perry)

This is a plot:

Some blokes go to the pub and get drunk.

This is some dialogue:

“Whose round is it?”

This is some action:

A fight breaks out.



Some common excuses not to bother:

I don’t have the time.

You only need an hour a day, so stop making excuses.

I don’t know how to write.

Then write it as if you were telling it to someone. “I were down the pub with me mate and this mod came up to me giving it the big gob so I smashed him in the face with a pint glass.”

I don’t have an idea for a story.

Neither did I when I first started writing. I wrote about half of what ended up being Punk Faction without having any idea what it was going to be about. The Meat Wagon, meanwhile, was fully formed in my head before I even started. Sometimes all I have is a general idea or a key scene I want to write about and it either develops itself from there or fizzles out and I abandon it for something else.

Draw on your own experiences if you can’t think of anything else to write about. We’ve all been to gigs, we’ve all had small children pointing at us and laughing, we’ve all been in brawls over arguments about musical taste or what colour scarf we wear to football matches. All of those are good starting points for a story.

Keeping the enthusiasm going

It’s hard to keep writing when you’re the only person who sees it. Don’t aim for a full length book at this stage, work on something shorter. You can always expand on it later. When you have something you’re reasonably happy with put it up on your blog for people to see. Don’t bother giving it to friends and family, they will just say it’s great so you don’t punch their faces in or go off in a sulk.

Don’t expect instant results from a blog post, but sooner or later someone will find it and comment on it. Even if they say it’s a pile of shite it proves there is an audience out there somewhere for the type of story you’re trying to tell, otherwise they wouldn’t have gone looking for it. This is a good thing. It means you’re not wasting your time. Write something else, or re-write the original and make it a bit less shite.

So how do I get rich from writing?

You won’t. Ever. If you’re lucky you’ll get a bit of an ego-wank when someone emails you to say how much they liked your story or gives it a good review somewhere. But you won’t be giving up the day job (if you’re lucky/unlucky enough to have one). Very few people have ever written full time, and even reasonably successful writers only made the equivalent of minimum wage. And that was in the days before everyone could just download anything they want for free and everyone and their granny’s dog was writing books.

Do it for you.

Leave your mark on an uncaring world before you die.

Do it for the people who want to read your story.

Just fucking do it.


About Marcus Blakeston

Ex-shouting poet, ex-fanzine writer, ex-angry young man (now growing old disgracefully). Living in sunny Yorkshire with his wife, children and motorcycle, Marcus still has a healthy distrust of all forms of authority.
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3 Responses to How to write a book (with apologies to Mark Perry)

  1. mrtulip says:

    some interesting advice there…cheers, Marcus ;)

  2. good stuff man! just shut up and write!

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