I'm not a teacher or a literary critic; these tips are just my take on some of the things that writers find difficult.
I've written this from the perspective of someone who wants to write a book, but most stuff also applies to shorter stories or essays.
The planning section is the longest part of the video, which goes to show how important I think it is to research and plan a story before you start writing.
Good luck with your writing!
IF YOU GET STUCK FOR IDEAS, STEAL THEM
I'm not encouraging you to copy someone else's book word for word, or base a story on the exact plot of your favorite TV show.
However, ideas are the most difficult part of creating a story and there's no such thing as a totally original idea. Most of my books were originally inspired by things I read in a newspaper, or saw in a movie, book, or TV documentary.
Don't get hung up over whether your idea is totally original. The important thing is not where your idea comes from, but what you do once you've got it.
PLAN YOUR STORY BEFORE YOU START WRITING
When I start working on a new book I'll spend 4-6 weeks doing research and trying to turn my initial idea into the plot of a story.
I'll then spend another week or two making a chapter plan that tells me everything that happens during the story.
I've heard other writers describing their books as a journey and that they just start writing and see where the characters take them. I think these people are mental.
At best you end up with a plot that's not as well worked as it could be, at worst you get stuck and can't finish the book. Your publisher will cancel your contract and you'll end up living in a cardboard box in the alleyway between the kebab shop and the dry cleaner's.
PLAN YOUR STORY WITH AN EVEN PACE
When I first started writing I used to read the stories fans sent me (sadly I get sent so many now that I could only read them all if I gave up writing books…). These stories would typically spend half of the opening page describing a blade of grass, and then the second half of the page would cover a 30 year war and the destruction of the entire universe.
Try and avoid doing that!
HOW COME ALL MY STORIES ARE SO SHORT?
I was about fifteen when I first started trying to write novels. My biggest problem (apart from the fact that they were all pants) was that I could never come up with stories any longer than about fifty pages.
There's a huge difference in scale between a 70,000 word novel and the 1,000 word story you might be asked to write at school.
I eventually got around this problem by opening up one of my favorite books, studying the plot and writing down exactly what happened in each chapter. This really helps you to understand plot twists and how good writers structure and pace their stories.