Writer’s Toolbox

Author Q&A

Here we present our exclusive collection of Q&As with a long list of illustrious authors.

Katherine Howell

Katherine HowellKatherine Howell is the author of Silent Fear and Cold Justice.

What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?

I've never experienced what I would call writer's block (i.e., a psychological problem that stops a writer writing). If I feel stuck in a scene, however, I sit down and write notes. Sometimes I do this by hand in a notebook, sometimes on computer in a diary-type document where I ramble on daily about how well (or otherwise) the current book is progressing. I start off by telling myself about the problem I'm facing, the scene I can't write or the story I can't get going, then write out everything I think and feel about it, including possible solutions, no matter how outlandish. The answer usually presents itself after a varying numbers of paragraphs or sometimes pages, and the act of writing even meandering thoughts like these gets me rolling again.

What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?

My most helpful writing prompt is to read a bit of good fiction, often crime fiction, every day. It reminds me of the power of words on the page and how they can come alive in a reader's head. It inspires me.

What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?

The most valuable advice I absorbed from reading books on writing and listening to numerous authors talk about their work.

1) The first draft is important because at least then you have words on the page, but the rewriting is where you make the work shine.

2) Never give up. Write something, rewrite until it's as good as you can make it, take what you've learned and start something new. Each new piece of work will be better than the last as you apply those lessons. Keep going. I wrote seriously for fifteen years before I had a novel published, and most of my writers friends have similar histories. It takes a long time. Just don't give up.