Chatting to John Boyne – and getting the first draft down

I love my job. How fantastic to spend forty minutes of your day talking to a million copy bestselling author, finding out all about his writing career – how he started, how he writes, where he writes and generally getting inside the head of the man behind such amazing books as The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, The House of Special Purpose and, most recently, the amazing, The Absolutist.

It may have been the first proper day of summer yesterday, but after speaking to John Boyne, I happily spent as much time as I could (children permitting) at the laptop, continuing to write the first draft of my new novel. Of all the insights John spoke about, it was, perhaps, his comments about writing the first draft which struck me most.

His advice on the matter? Simply, get it written. No let up, no distractions, no endless tinkering and fiddling about with Chapters One, Two and Three – just get it written. Find the story first and worry about the wonderful language, perfect sentence structure and themes in subsequent edits. As he points out, how can you perfect the opening chapters when you don’t know how the story will end until you’ve actually written it? Even the most resolute of plotters and planners often find strange and unexpected things happening to their characters during the writing process.

I knew this already of course, but  hearing this from someone as successful as John feels like having a stern talking to from my school teacher: ‘Hazel must not tinker endlessly with opening chapters.’

So, I won’t. My first draft mission starts here. I will let you know when, and how, it ends.

Read my full interview with John on


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. suzie hull
    May 29, 2012 @ 14:33:19

    Hi Hazel, that sounds like really good advice from John, just get it written! Easier said than done when you have kids, and a job, and a life, and the washing up…
    I loved your last blog and I’m going to follow your new one as I’m really interested in writing and trying to get published too. I’ve just taken the plunge with my own blog. Suzie Hull


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