2. Keep it real – but not too real
3. Keep a diary – secret ones are the best
4. Don’t be afraid if your family is unusual
5. Put yourself in their shoes
Go to full page for her explanation of these headings: Tamsyn Murray: how to write about your own family | Children’s books | The Guardian.
Young Romantics is a competition which asks writers aged between 16 and 18 to entertheir poems (max. 20 lines) and short stories (max. 1,000 words) – the only condition is that your work must take their inspiration from the work, lives and ideas of the Romantic poets, and they must refer to the theme of the competition, which this year is Lost Angels.
Find out more and enter here. The closing date for entries is 13 March 2015.
Shortlists for both prizes will be announced on the Keats Shelley Memorial Association website in March/April and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 21 April 2015.
The author of Skellig and A Song for Ella Grey opens up to the Millennium RIOT Readers book group
Steven: When you were younger, using the library in Felling, was there a particular author or genre you would choose to read, and did your reading preferences change a lot as you got older or do you still like the same genres now?
I read widely. I read all kinds of things. I think I was the same when I was younger. I just used to go in and browse. When I was reading the children’s selection then I moved to the older sections, I would read a lot about ghosts and spirits and that kind of stuff – I was fascinated by ghosts and parapsychology so I would look for that. I read novels, poetry and I remember the moment when I first read Ernest Hemingway. I was in Felling library – this shows the influence of a good library – I was in that library and I remember taking the book off the shelf, it was a book of short stories by Hemingway. I felt that suddenly when I started reading it, I had grown up as a reader. I think I was about 15 and I fell in love with those kinds of books.
Alex: Do you ever get writer’s block and if you do, out of all of your books, is there one that you struggled with at all while writing it?
I doubt the existence of writer’s block because it’s like when you are lying in bed in the morning and don’t want to get up to go to school, and somebody shouts up and says “Get up and get to school!” In the back of my head when I get to a difficult bit and I don’t particularly want to do it there is a voice saying “Get it done Lad!” Also a great way to get rid of writer’s block is to just write nonsense. There are notebooks in which I just scribble. I think the process of scribbling like that releases any writer’s block and if you don’t know what to do then just write rubbish! You start scribbling stuff down and suddenly you find a way through it.
The worst way to try and stop it is to try and think your way out of it. When you get to the point in a story when you don’t know what is going to happen next, if you think too hard it can stop you can’t it? It can stop you from getting through to the answer. Just put your pen in your hand and do the physical thing of putting it across the paper and that is the way to unblock it. The thing is to doubt it and not believe in it. Also I just can’t afford to have writer’s block – it’s my living!
Many more questions and responses:
via David Almond: each story comes with its own kind of fizz, gurgle and energy | Children’s books | theguardian.com.
Meg Rosoff, on why writing is like sex:
Writers are not marketing experts or salesmen. Although these qualities are required of nearly all writers these days, it is vitally important not to forget that the job is to write, not to get a high score on Goodreads.
What does this mean?
It means putting on blinkers and ignoring the noise of the world. It means not thinking about success when you should be thinking about truth. Or at the very least — about story, or character, or what your book will say that has never been said before.
Think about the real point of writing when you sit down to write “a synopsis that will sell!” Or spend hours a day on twitter “building your profile.” Or when you ruin a morning obsessively checking your Amazon ranking.
The purpose of art is to inspire, to shock, to provoke, to connect, to satisfy yourself first and foremost – and you should never be satisfied.
Writing is like sex. If you’re doing it right, you will not be thinking about success.
Marcus Sedgwick: where I write [photograph by the author]
Marcus Sedgwick talks about the writing of his new book The Ghosts of Heaven, using his own photographs to illustrate the different elements in the novel.
Nicola Davies can write everywhere and anywhere: as long as it is not too noisy… And she can’t multi-task…
Two things are important to me when I’m actually at the stage of putting words onto a page or into a computer: a view and silence.
Mostly I write in my study at the top of my house because it gives me both. The view is over the top of a Victorian mental hospital, to the Blorenge – the mountain that stands above Abergavenny, where I live. The light over :"my mountain" changes through the day offering different kinds of distraction and comfort when I need them. The resident hospital pigeons provide light relief – the ludicrous displays of the males to the largely indifferent females are visible in animated silhouette along the roofline.
King: Many writers have to teach in order to put bread on the table. But I have no doubt teaching sucks away the creative juices and slows production. “Doomed proposition” is too strong, but it’s hard, Jessica. Even when you have the time, it’s hard to find the old N-R-G.
Lahey: If your writing had not panned out, do you think you would have continued teaching?
King: Yes, but I would have gotten a degree in elementary ed. I was discussing that with my wife just before I broke through with Carrie. Here’s the flat, sad truth: By the time they get to high school, a lot of these kids have already closed their minds to what we love. I wanted to get to them while they were still wide open. Teenagers are wonderful, beautiful freethinkers at the best of times. At the worst, it’s like beating your fists on a brick wall. Also, they’re so preoccupied with their hormones it’s often hard to get their attention.
Lahey: Do you think great teachers are born or do you think they can be trained?
King: Good teachers can be trained, if they really want to learn (some are pretty lazy). Great teachers, like Socrates, are born.
Lahey: You refer to writing as a craft rather than an art. What about teaching? Craft, or art?
King: It’s both. The best teachers are artists.
Keren David on how she writes…
When I’ve writing a first draft I try and write 1,000 words a day without planning too much ahead. I can tinker with what I’ve written the day before, but I try not to do any wholesale editing.
I can’t write with music on, and I’m very distracted if I have an internet connection. So I often go to a local cafe at 7.30am and work there for two hours, when it fills up with mums and babies. Early morning is a very good time for me to write, and it leaves the rest of the day free to do other stuff and think about my story and characters. I also find it useful to have a self-imposed time deadline, so I have to produce the right number of words by 9.30am. (This is a throwback to a life spent in newsrooms).
Recommended interview (by C. J. Busby) with Frnaces Hardinge
I always plot out my books before I write them. For my first book I even had a chapter by chapter outline. I haven’t gone into quite that much detail in plans for my later books, but I always map out the main incidents, and know what the ending will be.
However, there’s always some room for making things up on the fly. A book should be a journey of discovery for the writer as well as the reader, otherwise the writing process can become dull and leaden. My stories surprise me. Characters develop in unexpected ways. Just now and then, I change my mind about my plot structure halfway through writing the book. It’s still useful to have that first plan, though, even if I decide to deviate from it. I need that trellis, even if I can’t full predict how my story-vine will grow.