Writing about nature

Advice for aspiring nature writers: what does it mean to write about nature, place and the environment?

Today we are sharing some advice for aspiring nature writers. What does it mean to write about nature, place and the environment?

Lots of books which can be described as ‘nature writing’ are works of hybrid non-fiction – they build layers and do more than one thing, using nature as a lens to explore other themes or aspects of life. We love books which combine different landscapes, ideas and personal narratives.

Nature writing should connect in some way with the natural world. You can write about nature in non-fiction or in fiction, but, in some way, demonstrate your awareness, your noticing, how attuned you are, how you pay attention to the world around you.

We asked some literary agents: What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring nature writer? Here’s what they had to say.

  • Kirsty McLachlan of Morgan Green Creatives: Read widely – books that are being published now and those that have become the touchstones of nature writing. And get noticed – place your work with online mags/sites. Enter competitions! Write through your own lens. Kirsty recommends Little Toller’s site, The Clearing.
  • James Macdonald Lockhart of Antony Harwood Agency: Read as much as you can. Read eclectically (not just nature writing!). Write what you know, what you care about, what moves and inspires you. Approach the genre freely, disobediently, creatively, instinctively.
  • Laura Macdougall of United Agents: The advice I’d give to any aspiring writer: read, read, read. Think about what you want to say and why you want to say it (why should we be reading this book by you and not someone else?), i.e., why your book is necessary.
  • Sarah Williams of the Sophie Hicks Agency: Nature is surprising, confident and can feel utterly magical – your writing should be the same.

2021 Prize