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20 things we learned at The Riff Raff in June

Paul Howarth at The Riff Raff June 2018

It took us a while and some Insta back and forth but we reckon we've cracked the plural noun for authors: a library.

And thus: what an incredible library of authors we had for our June 2018 meet up: Sophie Mackintosh, Rachel Edwards, Justin Myers, Sharlene Teo and Paul Howarth. Between them, they covered dystopia, feminism, race, family dynamics, online personas, dating, friendships, monsters, Westerns and ethnic cleansing – and that's before we even started talking about the process of writing a book.

If you missed it, never fear: you'll soon be able to catch the whole thing on The Riff Raff Podcast but if you can't wait – and who can these days? – here are 20 things we learned at our June writers' meet up.

1. A vague narrative is fine – as long as you know what's going on.

2. Don't want to give your readers too much information? Use the editing process to go back and add in tit-bits.

3. Different fonts for different characters can help you define their voices.

Sophie Mackintosh at The Riff Raff June 2018

4. 'Writing allows you to play out an alternative world when things are shit in the real one.'

- Sophie Mackintosh

5. Don't try and write for an agents’ favourite genre – find the thing that really matters to you and write your own.

6. For a lot of people, Brexit changed the way they saw the world.

7. And a ‘Brexit thriller’ is a real (and wonderful) thing.

Rachel Edwards at The Riff Raff June 2018

8. ‘Don’t drink and tweet!’

– Rachel Edwards

9. Peripheral characters have the power to shape your protagonist, even if your readers forgets them.

10. Real life is boring. Deviate from your own experience and your story will come alive.

11. Yes, someone else can read the audio of your book better than you can.

Justin Myers at The Riff Raff June 2018

12. ‘If someone asks you to write a book, say yes.’

– Justin Myers

13. Give your story heart by setting it somewhere to which you’re emotionally attached.

14. Horror is so much more than pulp these days.

15. Reviews are part and parcel of a writers’ life. Some will be bad. Stay positive, and stay grateful.

Sharlene Teo at The Riff Raff June 2018

16. ‘Write from a place of abject helplessness.’

– Sharlene Teo

17. Keep going. In spite of the rejections and the hurdles along the way.

18. Books of baby names can be surprisingly inspiring.

19. Think of your narrative like a rolling stone: the further it goes, the bigger it gets and the more damage it does.

Paul Howarth at The Riff Raff June 2018

20. ‘Have a “fuck it” moment and write the way you really want to write.'

– Paul Howarth

Thank you to our fantastic five authors, to photograph to the stars (we think authors are rock stars) Alice Lubbock; to the good and lovely staff at Effra Social in Brixton; to Clapham Books and of course to you, our lovely audience, who make The Riff Raff bigger and better every month.

The Riff Raff June 2018

We’re back on July 12th – fancy coming along?


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