Tag Archives: how to

Overcoming Hurdles

5 Aug

It’s that wonderful time of year known as The Summer Holiday (aka the only benefit of teaching aka what will make me quit if our Lord and Master takes it away). I’ve taken some time to work on writing projects, which has been wonderful. First up: another round of edits on The Twain, my YWP manuscript. Hot Key were kind enough to send me some very useful editorial notes following the competition and I’ve just finished adding their suggestions to the book.

This hasn’t been the easiest process, I’ll honest. In fact, when I looked at their three main recommendations, I was stumped.

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Newbie Mistakes #3: Getting the Message

17 Mar

If you grew up watching kids’/teen TV in the 80s-90s, you will be familiar with the concept of the ‘very special episode’. In these one-off episodes, the young cast would get themselves into problems with drugs, alcohol or sex, and what might normally be a light-hearted show would become serious, sombre and moral-laden. For example, in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where the relationship between Will and Carlton was a constant riff, Will’s drug use in one episode led to Carlton going to hospital after accidentally taking some ‘pills’ from his cousin’s locker. The episode ended with a penitent Will having to own up to having the drugs in the first place, and apologising to his cousin for nearly killing him. The message is clear: DRUGS ARE BAD.

Having imbibed these messages from an early age, it’s therefore not surprising to find that lots of new writers feel like their work needs to present a moral message to the teen audience.

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Newbie Mistakes #2: Dialogue Tag, You’re It!

21 Jan

On one side of my classroom I’ve got a display, inherited from the lovely lady who used to own the room, of words to use instead of ‘said’ when you’re writing dialogue. You know the deal: hissed, guffawed, shouted, cried, croaked etc. etc. Maybe you can hear the voice of your teacher now:

“Make sure you use varied vocabulary! Don’t use said all the time! Look at the list of alternatives!” (she exclaimed).

Let’s just pause a minute.

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Newbie Mistakes #1: Let’s start at the very beginning…

13 Jan

On a couple of occasions recently, a student has asked me: ‘Miss, what qualifications do you need to be a writer?’

Unfortunately, I reply, it’s not as simple as getting a certificate and magically becoming ‘a writer’. There is really only one way to be a writer and that is to write.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to be learned about writing – on the contrary, there’s a lot to get your head round. Having spent a few years now on the YA scene, I’ve seen a lot of new writers make the same mistakes – and made them myself. So, in a small series of posts, I’m going to discuss some of these classic newbie errors – and how to avoid them.

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In the immortal words of Maria Von Trapp, let’s start at the very beginning…the beginning of your book…

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