Adventures in Writing – a personal journey by Stuart G Yates


Writing is difficult.

Even when you are good at it.

Robert B Parker famously said he loved nothing better than to write but the redrafting and the editing, he hated.

I can understand that. I don´t find the creating part all that difficult. I have stories in my head, in my notebook, on my computer. Some of them have been planned, some have been partially written. Many others are waiting for that momentous day when I put fingers to the keyboard and dive straight in.


Afterwards, with the story done, and that moment of relaxation and elation at knowing that it has all ended up as I dreamed it would…I then have to re-draft. Not just once, or twice. Three times usually. Constant editing, reviewing, it never seems to end. I´m better than I was, but I still hate it.

The problem is, it is actually necessary.

I often find that reading out dialogue aloud helps me with that. I’ve done some acting back on Merseyside, visiting schools to put on original productions for the kids, as well as appearing in a wide range of other theatre productions, so I know a little about what I speak of. Pacing, pausing, intonation, dramatic effect. All of that can be fine-tuned by reading your own words aloud. The rest, however, that is painful. That first flush of creativity has gone, and all I am left with now is the polishing.

Does it help?

I was given ‘Redemption’ for a Christmas present. I read it in two days. ‘Appaloosa’ in one. I have often stopped and wondered why. I read ‘Wilt’ in one day too, clutching my stomach in hysterics, Sometimes I can’t get into a book. They all say, don’t they, those who know; you have to hook your reader, that the first paragraph, sentence, even word has to be so good that the reader simply can’t put it down. It´s such a personal thing though, isn´t it. I picked up a book the other day. All the critics were raging about it, saying how wonderful it was. After the first sentence I wanted to give it back. Another book was given to me. ‘You must read it, it’s wonderful’. Same outcome. I was so bored that by the end of the first paragraph I fell asleep. I haven´t touched it since.

Why is that? I don´t know, I can’t analyse the reasons. Perhaps it really has got a lot to do with making it perfect. Graham Greene wrote 300 words a day, then went over and over them until they were absolutely right.

It’s not a genre thing. I remember listening to Melvyn Bragg, and he said that everyone should read ‘Jude the Obscure’. So, I dug out a copy, started it, and was absolutely riveted by every word. Then again, that is Thomas Hardy, one of the great literary geniuses of the world. Not many of his calibre knocking about today, but surely we can try. I glance through a lot of self-published books and I shudder at what I read. If you are forced to stop every few words because of incorrect spelling, the flow has gone, enjoyment lost.

I know what I like, and that is that. It´s the same with what I write. I enjoy what I write, get caught up in it, and if I don’t then I cross it out and start again. I’ve done that with entire books. They are still on my shelf (or on my computer hard-drive) and will stay there until such time as I have the courage to begin them again. The great re-draft.

All I know is, that we have to try our best. Our best. You should only write for yourself, if you are a fiction author. It might be different for non-fiction, but as a novelist I believe you should write what you’d like to read. That way your enthusiasm comes across through every page. I tried to write a romance once. Hah! Two sentences and I knew I never could. But plenty of action, murder, mystery, that’s what rocks my boat. Of course, a little bit of sensuality adds so much to a story, but…full blown romance? Not for me, I´m afraid, even though there is a ton of money to be made out of it.

Well, until the ‘Mills and Boon’ bug gets hold of me, I will continue to write what I like, draft and redraft, trying to do my very best and improve my craft. Because that is what it is. Nobody buys my books. I’ll never make any money. However, in the end that doesn’t matter. I create, and it is that which makes me happy, and if I can create something good, solid and worthwhile then I am even happier..

But boy, this writing, it’s hard work!

If you would like to learn a little more about what I write and where to purchase copies in all formats, visit

I hope you like what you find there. Thanks for reading.



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4 responses to “Adventures in Writing – a personal journey by Stuart G Yates

  1. byrogers1

    John Irving says it is the most rigorous thing you will ever do. I agree. I can only do it for 2-3 at a time.

  2. As I am closing in on the 30,000th word in my first serious piece of fiction, I read your blogs and think to myself, “Oh, he GETS it!”

    THANK YOU! 🙂

    • Thank you Julie, and every good wish for your ‘first serious piece of fiction’ being a success. Stuart

      Please visit my website for all the latest news on my books HERE. You can also keep up with my blog HERE. Thanks for all your support.

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