Writing Lessons I learned from Charles Dickens

Writing Lessons I Learned From Charles Dickens

  • Research deeply, and read only ‘books (that have) the air of the time in them.’
  • Plan slowly & carefully
  • Write swiftly
  • Don’t be afraid of the omniscient narrator
  • Plot is character in action
  • A character does not need to be likable to be empathetic
  • You do not need to explain everything – trust in the intelligence of your readers
  • ‘Make them laugh, make them cry, make them wait.’
  • Come up with a powerful and memorable first line:


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way …


  • Make your last line just as good


It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

Kate Forsyth
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