Wednesday, 27 November 2013

PD James gives ten tips for writing a novel

Novelist PD James (PD stands for Phyllis Dorothy) has written over 20 books, including the Adam Dalgleish series, which has been made into a TV series.
Now 93, she says she wants to write one more detective novel. Hers has been a successful career, but she didn't get her first novel published until she was 42. (There's still time for many of us!)
Recently, in an article on the BBC website, she gave her top ten tips for novelists. In summary, these are:
1. You must be born to write.
2. Write about what you know.
3. Find your own routine.
4. Be aware that the business is changing.
5. Read, write and don't daydream!
6. Enjoy your own company.
7. Choose a good setting.
8. Never go anywhere without a notebook.
9. Never talk about a book before it is finished.
10. Know when to stop.
We would add an eleventh: Get your book properly proofread and edited at!
Read the full article here.


  1. I wonder how many people actually get past number 1? And how do you know if you are born to write? A few tips on self belief may be handy here.

  2. Yes, I must say I don't agree with number one. If Ms James was born to write, why did it take her 42 years to get published? So let's scrap no.1 and add in my "eleventh" instead!

  3. PD James was a full time civil servant and felt that it was essential to have a safe job with a pay packet at the end of the week. In an interview she said: ‘I remember thinking: the years are slipping by and if I don't make a start soon I’m going to be a failed writer. There was never going to be a convenient time to get on with it.’ So that's why she started late - better late than never! I believe Mary Wesley didn't start writing books until her 70s or 80s. (The Chamomile Lawn) - so there is hope for the oldies ....