As a published children’s author, I’m often asked for advice that can be passed on to aspiring young authors. Likewise, ‘How do I become an author?’ is a frequently asked question during school visits I make. So, drawn from my own experience, here are my five top tips for how children with a passion for writing can improve their craft (downloadable for displaying on this page):
Reading other people’s books or stories is a super way of honing your own style. Reading a wide range of genres helped me to understand what kind of author I wanted to be. The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. is a contemporary, realistic, funny series – the exact kind of books I enjoy reading myself.
Writing is just like learning to play the trumpet or improving your keepy-uppy score. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. I started writing stories when I was about seven. Look at this:
That’s the first book I ever wrote! Since then, I’ve written tons of stories, in all sorts of genres, for many different purposes. I’m in my 40s now and I can testify that, while practise doesn’t always make ‘perfect’, it certainly makes ‘better’.
- Challenge yourself
Ask your friends and family to say a random genre, a name, a problem and an everyday item. Try to write a short story that incorporates those prompts. Sometimes thinking outside of the box can be super-rewarding.
Once you’ve written something you’re really happy with, put it in a drawer for at least a week. When you re-read it with fresh eyes, try to make your sentences super sparkly, lose irrelevant details, and make sure you’ve given enough detail so your reader can imagine your setting (smells, sights, tastes, what things feel like, noises) and how your characters are feeling. ‘Show, don’t tell’ really does help here: ‘Her shoulders slumped when she heard the news.’ gives a better picture than, ‘The news made her sad.’
Ask someone you trust to read your stories. Ask them what they like and what they think could be better, then work on making further improvements.
Good luck with your writing. I look forward to seeing a book you’ve written on the shelves of my local bookshop in the future.