Writing advice from top children’s authors

James Moloney and his story board

Last week when I was at the Somerset Writer’s Festival I listened to lots of really great authors talk about their books and writing in general.  I collected some great writing tips for children (and adults) throughout the week and thought I’d share some with you.

  • James Moloney – Just sit at your computer and brainstorm ideas.  When you brainstorm you’re mining for ideas.  You have to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes – this is the key to a great story (and also reminds me of my favourite quote from one of my all-time favourite books, To Kill a Mockingbird).
  • James Roy – Entertain your audience by making your characters miserable – conflict is exciting.
  • Patrick Ness – If you have a good idea, wait – ideas always attract other ideas.  No matter what age you are, you are never too young to have ideas.
  • Melina Marchetta – Names are really important in a story and can tell you a lot about a character.
  • Anthony Eaton – Be an absolute eavesdropper and sticky beak, that way you’ll pick up lots of ideas from the world around you.  Also, look at real events and ask WHAT IF?
  • Gus Gordon – Spend lots of time looking out the window daydreaming and imagining weird things happening.
  • Markus Zusak – Take things that happen to you or other people around you and use them in a story, but don’t make it autobiographical.

All of these authors made writing sound really easy to me and I’m sure the children that attended their sessions were inspired.  So if you or someone you know wants to write all you need to do is start collecting ideas and write, write, write.

My idol Patrick Ness

Today at the Somerset Writer’s Festival on the Gold Coast I got the chance to meet my idol and one of my favourite authors, Patrick Ness. I went to his first session of the day where he talked to secondary school students about writing and his books.

He told these students that there are three things you need to do to be a writer:

  1. Write – as much and as often as you can because practice makes perfect.
  2. Read – the more you read, the more words you devour and the more writing styles you discover.
  3. Rewrite – because nothing’s perfect the first time.

He says that you get ideas from everything around you and that if you get a great idea for a story you should wait because ideas always attract other ideas.  His most important point was that you are never too young to have ideas and that anybody of any age can write.

I was very excited to be able to interview Patrick and to ask him some burning questions.  The full interview will be available on the library website next week, and if you want to win a signed copy of Patrick’s amazing book, The Knife of Never Letting Go (the first book in his Chaos Walking Trilogy), watch this space.