Lucky You! You Want To Be A Writer!
by Deborah Abela, children’s author
When I was a kid, I had what I thought was the world’s most boring life, but when I picked up a book, each page instantly drew me into a world that was infinitely more exciting than mine and made me feel bigger and stronger than my very puny, short self. I was instantly hooked.
I’ve been writing professionally since 1995, firstly for television and for the last 10 years, I’ve been writing kids’ novels and I love it! But it’s not all fingers madly flying over keyboards and creative bursts, there are times of great doubt, of what feels like terrible ideas and times when I just get stuck.
But I have learnt a few tips I wanted to share that will hopefully help in writing your next story.
1) The Love Factor
Write about what you love, what you get really excited about, then, hopefully, that excitement will be felt by your reader who will be itching to turn the next page.
2) Read and Read and Read
Read mostly for enjoyment but also to see how your favourite authors create their stories and make them and their characters feel so real.
3) Daydream: Go on adventures in your head. Go to places you think will be fun. Imagine walking around the settings to get to know them as if you’ve been there. When I was thinking of the setting for The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen, I decided on an amusement park because I thought that would be a really fun place to live. I took lots of photos of Brighton Pier in England and used those as my inspiration for the novel.
4) Making Your Characters Feel Real
Create bio pieces for your characters so you really get to know them. Answer questions like:
Do they like school?
What is their worst/best trait?
Do they have a secret?
What makes them happy and sad?
What is their greatest dream?
Make sure they earn their place in your story….I once cut a character out of The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen because he wasn’t adding enough to the story. I didn’t want to do it because I liked him, but the novel worked so much better when he was gone.
5) Make Every Word Earn its Place in Your Story
Ask yourself: Is this the most perfect word for this sentence? Is this the best line of dialogue for this character? Does this sentence best describe what I want to say? Be picky with your words and read it aloud to see if it flows…lots of authors do this.
6) Look it up: Does any part of your novel need to be researched? This can often help to make a story feel true. I did a lot of research for my novel Grimsdon to learn ways to survive in a flooded city. From sneaker waves to peddle-powered engines, I had lots of fun making this story and world feel real. Most of my novels have a base of real life to them and from there I add lots of fictitious imaginings and characters that bring it to life.
7) Getting Unstuck
Lots of young writers say that they can start a story easily enough but then become bored and never reach the end. I always write a plan of what is going to happen in each chapter so I don’t lose track and become bored.
8) Show it off: Read your story to friends, place it on fanfic sites, use your school blog and don’t be afraid of criticism. Other people’s ideas can help you become a better writer.
9) Just start! Once you have planned your story and know your characters, sit down and write! Maybe even now. Go on. Off you go! And have fun!
BIO: After seven years producing and writing children’s TV, Deborah has written novels about spies, ghosts, soccer legends and characters living in a flooded city with sea monsters and evil harbour lords. She is the author of the Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series, The Remarkable Secret Of Aurelie Bonhoffen and Grimsdon. Her latest series, Ghost Club, is about two 11-year-olds who deal with pesky ghosts. Deb’s won awards for her books, her latest being a USBBY Outstanding International Book Award in the USA, but she mostly hopes to be as brave as her characters. She is an ambassador for the National Year of Reading, the Premier’s Reading Challenge and Room to Read. www.deborahabela.com
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