So Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th June is the Wild Words Festival in Cuffley, Hertforshire. I am on stage Friday at 4:30pm and I must say I am really looking forward to it.
I have been sifting through my children’s poems to find daft ones, silly ones, disgusting ones to share to warm the audience up before we get onto the serious business of wishes.
Wishes are so important to stories. Without them many things would not happen. Events would not take place and characters would not be motivated to do something. Of course, the problem with making a wish is that usually something goes wrong as Billy found out Wishbone Billy.
If you can make the festival, do say high and do let me know what you thought of my books if you bought them. I always love to find out from children what they think. If you can’t make the Wish Wonder you will probably find me hanging out in the festival’s bookshop buying more books when I really shouldn’t. I have so many to read already!
Anyway, whatever you are doing over the weekend don’t forget to take time to find a quiet space and make a wish. Maybe just a small one. You never know who might be listening.
Quiet are the shelves Time to let the words whisper. Tomorrow they will be noisy. Shouting stories at customers. Protesting: buy me! Medusa will leave you as a stone. Transfixed before the shelves. If only you had brought a shield. But then, it is a bookshop.
This poem came about because I was in my favourite bookshop waiting for the end of day. It made me think of how quiet a bookshop must be at night and how each page of the books had a story to tell and wanted our attention.
I’m pleased to announce the launch of BAD ELF. This is now available from Amazon for £5.99.
About the book: A fantastical journey with elves, bears, some well-known fairy tale characters, and Father Christmas!
Most elves are happy, kind and love working for Santa making Christmas toys for good little girls and good little boys. But not Bob. He’s bad with a capital B-A-D. And he is fed up. He is fed up with reindeers and making toys for that stupid red-clothed idiot. So he runs away.
Join Bob on his search to find a new job away from the North Pole in a world full of wacky, eccentric characters that will have you laughing out loud.
Let me talk about the importance of books and reading. You might think the book in your bag is not all that but let me try to change your mind. When I was at Primary School, i was not the most avid reader. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have seen me with a book. It wasn’t something I did for pleasure. Maybe it was having learnt to read through the Peter and Jane reading scheme meant that reading did not equal enjoyment for me.
So come Year Six most of my writing was underlined in red pen by the teacher due to the poor spelling. At Parents’ Evening, my teacher (Mr Patchett) told my mother I needed to read more to help my spelling. My mother promptly passed the message onto me, with strong emphasis. So the next day, I searched the classroom bookshelf for a book until I chanced on The Otterbury Incident by Cecil Day-Lewis.
It was about two gangs of boys who team up to help raise money for a friend. There were cunning tricks and battles with crooks. It was brilliant. So I read it again. And again. And again. After that, I thought “I’ll try something else,” and the reading bug was born within me. That book changed my life.
Governments need to celebrate the power of books. Libraries should be given all the funds they need. Schools given grants for author visits. WORLD BOOK DAY should be everyday.
You visit an old library when on holiday. When looking around, you lean on a bookshelf. Suddenly, it moves to reveal a door to a secret passage way. Where does it go? What will you find?
STUCK?Try this story starter: Can you believe it? We were on holiday and my mother took us to a library! A library! Of all the boring places to go. Why not a water park or the beach or even a restaurant? But a library, I mean. I know she is a book fanatic but that was ridiculous. Anyway, I decided to wander around the place a bit as there was nothing else to do. There was row after row of tall bookcases that almost blocked out the light. They were filled with old leather bound books of various shades of black and brown. It was a like a book maze. So of course I got a bit lost and found myself in some dark corner by a wall of books trying to work out which way to go next. I leant against one of the shelves meaning to take a swig from my water bottle when I began to fall backwards. The shelf had moved. I turned around to look at what had happened and there was a door. A door made out of bookshelves.
What happens next?
What is Write – 30? Write – 30 is a daily activity where you write non-stop for twenty minutes then check and edit your work for 10 minutes. You will be asked to write about different subjects and in different forms.
The writing should be done on lined paper in pencil if possible. Edit and check the work in pen. If you don’t have paper and pencil, use what you can. Even a computer.
Finding it difficult? What you can do to help:
Always sit/work in the same place
Always use the same writing tools
Always turn the TV off
No talking – it distracts thinking
Always listen to the same piece of classical music when writing.
Always set yourself a goal: count the number of words. Try to beat that number the following day.
Often I get asked, “Oi, mister! How do I stop people falling asleep when they’re reading my writing?”
And I reply, “My name’s not Oi Mister.” Then I tell them about Writing Tricks.
I introduced Onomatopoeia, Simile and Metaphor last time in Writing Trick 1: OSM. Here are a few more.
1) Repetition. This is when you repeat a word to make it really stick in a reader’s mind because you think it is important. Here’s an example of it being used:
The sound was coming from the end of the corridor. Jamie peered into the blackness. Thud. Thud. Thud. It was getting nearer. What was it? Jamie’s hands felt hot and clammy and sweat trickled down his back as his heart pounded in his chest. Thud. Thud. Thud.
A great example of using repetition can be found in The Iron Man by Ted Hughes.
2) Alliteration. This is when a writer wants to make a phrase stand out and so writes three or four words together beginning with the same sound. For example:
The six silly sausages skipped and swirled down the street. Oh! This was so much fun! This was far better than being in that frying pan. And who wanted to be eaten anyway?
3) Cliffhanger. A cliffhanger comes from old movie serials where the hero at the end of an episode who be left in peril like handing onto the edge of a cliff. The Indiana Jones‘ movies use them a lot. They usually come at the end of a chapter or section.
Here’s my example taken from Wishbone Billy:
Billy said nothing. He dragged his weary body to the kitchen to do his next chore before dinner. Little did he realise that a terrible disaster was about to happen.
So next time you are writing, why not try some of these tricks out but remember the most important thing: have fun with your writing and your reader will too.
I’ve been asked many times by children when visiting schools: “Hey, mister, what makes up a story?”
Stories are made up of different kinds of parts which help you tell the whole thing. This explains some of the DRAD.
DESCRIPTION: This is the part of the story where you use lots of adjectives and longer sentences to describe the setting or characters. You might use descriptive writing devices like power-of-3, simile, metaphor, personification. Generally, it is better not to do all your description in one large chunk and have none any where else. Usually writers drop in some description through out their story. Example: The old house stood at the end of the winding street on top of a grey hill. It loomed over the area like a dark, foreboding presence waiting for the unwise to enter.
REFLECTION: This is when the characters think about what is happening or what has happened to them or what will happen to them. It gives insight into the characters and their motivation. Example: Why did I ever come here? This was the biggest mistake of my life! Kevin is dancing with Sarah and they’re dancing real close.
ACTION: These are fast paced sections where your character is doing something exciting. It should have lots of exciting verbs (action words) with little or no description and short sentences. Example: He pulled the gun. He let off a shot. One. two. They flew over the bandit’s heads. He dived behind a rock.
DIALOGUE: This is when two or more people are talking to each other in a story. Try to avoid using lots of words instead of SAID. Usually SAID is the bet word to use. What is said is the important thing. It should be important, interesting and move the story forward. Example: I was like, ‘What do you want?’
He shuffled his feet. ‘I wanted to ask you out.’
How much of each part you have depends on the type of story you’re writing and what form it is taking. An adventure story like James Bond will have more action but a historical drama will have more description. A story told through diary entries will contain more reflection, dialogue but less descritption and action.
Get a copy of the Story Parts to print for display here: story parts