Monday, 30 June 2014

Who encouraged your writing?

In a newsletter I get from NaNoWriMo Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, asked - "Who encouraged your writing when you were a kid? For me, it was a teacher named Judy Barnes. Back in 1991, Mrs. Barnes read a story I wrote in front of the whole class, and I can still feel the glow from that moment today. Her single act of encouragement changed the course of my life."

I thought I'd post a bit about the people who encouraged me when I was a kid. All three are teachers actually, which goes to show a good teacher is never forgotten.

The first two were both teachers at my middle school (junior school), Mr Wheeler and Mr Hanrahan. Back in about 1990, in Mr Wheeler's class one term he set us the task of writing a 'novel'. We had the sort of exercise books with a lined page then a plain page, and we had to write a story during the term, with pictures, to fill the book. I write a story about my two pet cats, Smudge and Vicky, an evil ice queen who liked to eat cats and a helpful griffin. There were a few pages left at the end so I wrote a poem about the story to fill the gaps.

Mr Hanrahan happened to read the poem and said it would look good if I typed it up, so he got me some time on a computer (we only had about two in the whole school!) and I typed it in, then he suggested I should read it out in the 'good news assembly'.

Smudge and Vicky's Adventure was the first story I can remember writing, and the encouragement from the two teachers that it was a good story and that it was worth sharing was really exciting.

The third teacher was Miss D'Auban, who I've mentioned before. For the first creative writing project I did in her class, in about 1993, she gave me an A and then announced to the class that only one person got an A. She then went on to give me lots of useful bits of advice by asking lots of questions which made me think about what I was writing. I've always been grateful to her for all the advice and comments she gave me over the years.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Genre - Wriye Circle

April - And we've made it through editing! So let's shift to something more fun... Genre

• What is your main genre?

Childrens/young adult fantasy. Usually that fantasy is grounded in the real world somehow, like a normal boy finding a troll in his locker one day, or a girl suddenly finding she can fly, or what if that man rode a dragon instead of driving a car? I do like to go completely fantastic sometimes though, and create a whole new world where faeries live alongside pixies, and gnomes build the best damn dams in the country.

• How has it evolved for you in the past few years and how do you think it will evolve further - both in your own writing style and in the publishing field overall?

To start with I would just write a story that I enjoyed writing, and while the content would be suitable for younger readers, the characters might be too old or the language I used might be too complicated. I think I've got better at creating characters that do what I want them to do but aren't too old for the audience I'm trying to write to.

Digressing for a moment, I read somewhere that children always want to be older, so they'll happily read about a main character a few years older than themselves, but they've still got to be someone they can relate to. A 13-year-old might like to read about a 17-year-old but he's going to find it more difficult to a 21-year-old because that character's life will be outside the 13-year-old's easy frame of reference, eg, he's left school, he goes to pubs, he might have a full-time job or be at uni. The 17-year-old will have more in common - probably still at school dealing with teachers and parents but wanting more freedom, might have a part-time job but mostly likes hanging out with his friends when he's not in school.

I don't know how my writing style will change, but I'm not going to try to push it in any particular direction. As to the publishing field, I think characters will continue to evolve but will in most ways stay the same as they've ever been - heroic, extraordinary, good beating bad, etc.

• Is there any genre you think blends easily with your niche? Or maybe you write in one that hasn't really emerged yet.

Childrens/YA blends with pretty much any genre as long as it's not too violent or sexual I think. (I would have issues describing The Hunger Games as a children's book for this reason.) The fantasy touches my stories generally seem to have would blend well with sci-fi, and I have dabbled in that and quite often try to explain some of the fantasy elements through science.

• Bonus: Doodle us something that describes your main genre to a T. (Like hearts for romance. But you can't take that now. Haha.)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

#Bookaday book recommendations

A new post-a-day type challenge that's supposed to run throughout June, but since I only just found it, it will probably go through June and July!

1 - My Favourite Children's Books (an old blog post, but it answers the question)
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 - Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 - The Host by Stephanie Meyer
21 -
22 -
23 - Lord of the Flies and Macbeth. Hated Lord of the Flies but I really enjoyed Macbeth.
24 - Enid Blyton. She gets a lot of stick, but the stories were interesting to read and a lot of fun, and they made me want to read more.
25 - Lord of the Rings - Return of the King. Seriously, how many times does a book need to end before it actually ends?
26 -
27 -
28 -
29 -
30 -