A WEEK TODAY
One week today, I will be visiting Wroxall Primary School on the Isle of Wight. I am going to run a series of workshops on the subject of story writing. I hope to address the problems children have in KS1 and KS2 with where ideas come from for good story writing, the importance of planning and diagrams, and how to get pace into stories.
I hope to teach you a little bit about, as a writer, when I sit down to write, I am thinking all the time about who my readers are and what they want from the books. I shall be asking you what you like about your favourite books and what you want from ours. Watch out?
There’s a lot to cover. We’re going to have lots of fun. The children will learn that good story writing comes from good planning and learning to observe what is going on around them in their every day lives.
Not sure that Bob and Gary will be accompanying me to the Isle of Wight. The school already has its own African land snails – can’t wait to see them. Just how big can they be?
Can’t wait to meet you all. Thank you to Mrs. Grey for organising my visit.
RADIO 2 – CHRIS EVANS SHOW
On the school run we listen to the Chris Evans Show in our car. Imagine how it was this morning to hear the launch of the writing competition, 500 words, for 13 year olds and under.
This sounds like a magnificent opportunity for those young writers out there to get writing. So, if you’d like to write a story that is 500 words or under, get writing! Chris Evans is interviewing some high-profile writers on his shows. They are giving some very useful tips, including, this very morning, the importance of thinking.
I walk a lot. I like to swim. When I do these ‘activities’ my brain is tick-ticking all the time, thinking about plots, characters, making the pace matter in my stories, how to keep the mystery going and the reader hooked.
The thing about kids is that you don’t want to wait for things to happen. It’s ZAP! ZAP! ZAP! You like things to happen, all the time! So it’s a compromise between building up to the high point in a story without losing the readers. Keeping your interest going. It’s a challenge, but a great one.
The author interviewed this morning, Anthony Horowitz, gave a very important piece of advice. He said if you want to write, do not to sit down in front of a blank piece of paper. He is right. Though part of the thinking process for me is filling lots of scraps of paper with ideas, drawings, diagrams, columns and arrows, what he was saying is to do the thinking before putting any pen to any scrap of paper.
Keep a pen and paper with you wherever you go. You never know when you might need it. Sometimes I see things I want to record, not for the book I am writing, but which I feel might be useful later on, for another book.
I wake up in the morning with fresh ideas. I write them down on the pad I keep next to my bed.
Sitting outside school, waiting for pick-up, I am always writing down ideas.
Before I start to write I have to have a pretty good idea what the ending might be, even if it changes along the way. This shows how important it is to go through the whole thinking process over and over again. It’s something you can do even with the television on. Think a little bit about your story every day.
Making notes is the key here. I used to write on post-it notes. I used to write on pieces of A4 – on one side and then on the other. Now I use the reverse side on rolls of old wallpaper which I no longer need. I end up with a long scroll full of ideas, arrows, coloured pens and crossings out. The old wallpaper becomes my black or whiteboard, and it’s always there as a reminder of plot, characters, pace and planning and how I reached the decisions I did.
Interested in joining the 500 words competition? Go on line to the BBC website and look for more details. It’s a fantastic idea for all those young writers out there who’d love to take part in a wonderful writing competition. You might find yourself, as the winner, going along to the famous Hay Literary Festival later this year and hearing your story read out by a famous author. Wow! How cool would that be! Go for it! My little boy, George, is going to have a go. I have promised to do nothing other than help with his planning so we’re very excited about that!
Many congratulations to a little girl called Bridget. She knows who she is. She has written a really good story called Bridget on a Mission. She has even done her own illustrations. Bridget has the most amazing imagination and has taken the inspiration for her stories from her bunny rabbits. I have a feeling that she may well be published one day. I really hope that she is. A massive ‘Well done!’ to you.
Until next time, happy writing to you all.