Last Wednesday night, I attended an interview with Rosalie Ham, best known for her novel, The Dressmaker. A natural in front of the microphone she spoke honestly about her writing experience. It was a pleasure to watch the interview, a fun learning experience, the advice priceless.
Ham was asked to share some of her writing wisdom. Here are the points, I took home:
- Write a cracker beginning, enticing the reader to want more
- The ending needs to be just as strong as the beginning
- Write about the things you know. Ham specialises on small communities and isolation.
- Spice it up with revenge, gossip, love, betrayal, treachery, and manipulation
- Human nature is infinitely interesting, quirks make good points for character development
- Hone your craft
- Be open to feedback. If someone says something is not working, it probably isn’t
- Know your story and use it as the unifying thread that runs through your writing
- Life can be funny, sad, unfair. Exploring emotions adds depth to the writing
- Be disciplined. Use a timetable and stick to it
- It’s easy to get lost among all those words. Keep track of what your characters say and do
- Use butchers drawing a visual representation of your novel in any form that makes sense to you
Clearly she loved writing and explained that the love of the craft illuminated the novel. Her characters she said all had one redeeming feature, something to love. It kept them real and kept her connection with them patent as they traversed the world of the novel together.
I loved her humility, ‘If one person tells me they loved my book; I am happy.’
She spoke about nailing the universal truths that run through our lives. For her, the collage of characters in a country town with their foibles, spoke to people world wide. People reading the book felt they knew those people, they’d met them in their lives.
It kept them reading.