My writing journey started in 2010, when I enrolled on a creative writing degree with Bath Spa university. I found it so useful that I went back a few years later, and gained a distinction in their writing for young people MA. Those writing degrees gave me a whole shed of technical tools, and as a result my debut MG novel, We Won an Island, was published earlier this year by Nosy Crow. It’s since been listed as one of The Telegraph’s 50 best books of 2019, and one of The Guardian’s best books for summer 2019.
On my writing workshops, I want to pass on the most valuable knowledge I’ve picked-up during my career. Although I can’t cover all the things I learnt on my degrees, I can tell you the skills that have helped me the most. I will also be on hand throughout the day to answer questions about your writing, work, querying, and the publishing industry.
The incredibly talented Vashti Hardy will be joining us on Saturday for 1-2-1s too!
Although I write middle grade, the weekend is not limited to this, and the workshops are appropriate for writers of any children’s fiction.
Saturday opens with exercises to wake-up your creativity. We all have days when writing feels clunky, and painful, or when we hit a plot hole that we can’t see a way around. The purpose of these exercises is to switch on the writing part of your brain, generate ideas, and get words flowing again. They can be used before starting a new project, and when you hit a writing wall.
Next we’ll be talking about the role of setting. This is more than just scenery – setting can sometimes be the most important part of a book. It can act as a character, a mood, or a plot, so it’s important to give it as much attention as these other aspects of your work. In particular we’ll look at how it effects tone, character, and action. I’ll lead you through a visualisation, to help you immerse yourself in your setting, and then writing exercises to get you thinking about different ways to use it.
On Sunday we’ll look at how to plot a page turning story. In particular, we’ll discuss the difference between internal and external plot, acts, and arcs. I’ll show you how I plot my own stories, as well as some other techniques to weave goals and circumstances together. You can play around with the structure and timeline, but these plot elements are the backbone of all stories.
The last workshop is all about character. When writing for children, it’s incredibly important to see the world as a child and / or teenager does. We’ll do an exercise to help you get into the mind of your child character, and touch on things like their motivations, conflict, goals, voice, POV, and the the type of narrator they are (ie. reliable / unreliable). We’ll also do an exercise to help you get to know your characters properly without boring questionnaires, and then practice showing their traits.