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Meet Esther Richardson

Esther joins TWP as a Young Writers mentor. Here, Esther gives her top tips for budding writers.

Encourage as many people as possible to read and see your work. Always listen carefully to what people say – but always be true to your own instincts when making changes and improvements. Learning how to process and make use of the feedback you are given is one of the most important skills to learn as a writer.

When you first start writing it takes some people a while to feel confident  about sharing their work, so set achievable goals for yourself: for some it may be a good idea to focus on an idea for a shorter play, or just a scene. Sometimes it helps to think of a play just as a sequence of scenes, it takes the pressure off a bit. At the beginning the main thing is just to finish something.

Philip Pullman’s advice to writers is “read like a butterfly, write like a bee”. Remember that writing is a craft to be mastered as well as an opportunity for wild and free creative expression. Yet ‘learning the craft’ doesn’t mean (in my view) undertaking painful heavy literary analysis of everything you see and read- it’s more about developing over a long time a deep understanding and instinct for how to tell a story well in the form you are trying to master. Some of this process also takes care of itself if you retain throughout your life a complete passion for stories and theatre.

Never underestimate the importance of the story. Sometimes trying out the story of your play on your friends in the pub, or over a coffee, or on a bus journey – actually telling it out loud – is a really good way to find out what works well about it. You will soon see if you are boring them in places, if that digression really is as hilarious as you thought, if the turning point does grab your audience’s attention or not, if the ending lands in the way you wanted. In the faces of your friends you can always see the reflection of your story so watch it closely you will learn a lot about how it works.

Everyone has their own creative process and delaying tactics so the most important thing of all is probably to bite the bullet and write as often as you can and as much as possible and to be brave and share it with others.

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