World Book Day is nearly upon us so I’m thrilled to be able to tell you about this fab new initiative to get kids reading: The Biggest Book Show On Earth, is on-line show compared by CCBC’s Dick and Dom and I’m sure your children will find it as inspirational as mine, it features all these amazing authors and illustrators:
- James Patterson
- David Melling
- Emily Gravett
- Jill Murphy
- Jim Smith
- Lauren St John
- Terry Deary
- Martin Brown
- Alex T Smith
- Sarah Lean
- Robert Muchamore
- Maureen Johnson
Filmed at Stanley Park High School, each of the £1 authors also answer questions submitted from children across the country as well giving an excerpt from their World Book Day book and talking about their inspirations.
To go with this I’ve been sent loads of tips from some of these authors to share with you. Which I’m really excited about as I’m keen to try to finish my novel.
First up is Lauren St John author of The One Dollar Horse which was one of the best young adult books I read last year:
One of the first things children will ask an author is, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ I always answer: ‘Ideas come from everywhere. Your problem should never be finding ideas. It should be that you have too many.’ Since life is infinitely stranger than fiction, newspapers and magazines are a good starting point. A news item about a stowaway boy or a dog that has turned up alive after two years, for instance, could give rise to any number of storylines.
When I get children to invent stories out loud, something that is as much fun for me as it is for them, I first ask them to create a couple of characters. What do they look like? What type of people are they? What are their interests? Next, we need an Event. Something happens. A volcano, a fire, an alien abduction, a school trip that goes wrong. The characters then go on a journey, which is as much about personal discovery as it is about location. Are they brave? Cowardly? How do they figure out an escape route? Lastly, we need a happy ending. Naturally.
As a child, I was obsessed with reading and I’m convinced that there are no good writers who are not good readers. Forget the Government nonsense about whether or not to read Dickens. Get your kids reading. It doesn’t matter if it’s comic books or JK Rowling or War and Peace. All that matters is that they learn to love reading. Of course, you could always consider Dead Man’s Cove, The One Dollar Horse or my World Book Day short story, The Midnight Picnic!
People always ask me what the best writing tip I’ve ever been given is. my knee-jerk response to that question is: do a little each day. It’s very important. Kids often ask me ‘how do you do that?’ when I draw, and it all comes down to a little each day. It’s like learning to play a musical instrument or a sport. You don’t pick up your tennis racquet one day and be volleying, hitting winning shots the next. The more you practice the better you get, and that’s the same with writing and drawing.
I also always keep note and sketchbooks, an idea might come from one simple illustration. I’m constantly drawing and redrawing these characters as they evolve. With Jack Frost, I was very conscious that I wanted to do a proper ‘Once upon a time…’ picture book so there’s no set rule or pattern but I always use the note or sketchbook as a starting point.
Alex T Smith
Some tips for drawing and writing:
Don’t assume that professional illustrators always know how to draw – I had to learn to draw bicycle a couple of years ago. Even pros have to learn and practice!
Always remember that when drawing you aren’t imitating life – your drawings don’t have to be realistic! Claude’s eyebrows are above his head, you wouldn’t see that in real life!
When I’m writing I might do some tiny doodles about how it would work as a book spread to help me keep track of my ideas. I really get going with the pictures when the text is complete. I’m always very keen on the idea that if you can say something with pictures then go for it.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer and an artist?
Yes, always. I’ve always loved books and luckily came from a very bookish family. I’ve also always loved drawing. I can remember the very first picture I drew – I was very very young and I was sitting at the dining table on my mum’s lap and I drew a teddy bear. It was really just a couple of very wobbly circles and a bit of scribble but I knew it was a teddy bear and told my mum exactly what was going on in my picture. From then on I was hooked and have had a pencil in my hand pretty much all the time since then!
Emily Gravett’s Top Five Writing Tips
1) Often I find that just getting to know my character will give me ideas for a story. I begin by writing down and drawing everything I know about them on a sheet of paper.
2) To get a really good resolution for a story I like to brainstorm. To do this write down your challenge or obstacle in the middle of a sheet of paper then as quickly as you can write down as many ways as you can think of to solve your problem.
3) Ending your story – Sometimes it’s worth writing down a few different endings for your story. Some happy, some sad, some funny. Try them all out. Most of the time one of them will leap out at you as the ‘right’ ending.
4) It’s good to write down ideas as you get them (or they tend to vanish). I use my sketchbook, but I also have a box to put more chunky ideas in. Even things that might spark ideas like packaging, buttons etc.
5) Finally, I think it’ important to keep re-reading aloud what you have written. Reading aloud helps you hear the rhythm of your story, and highlights any snaggy areas that need work.
To celebrate World Book Day I have a copy of each of the books to give away to one lucky reader. To enter all you need to do is comment and use the rafflecopter widget, telling me what your all time favourite children’s book is.
Terms and Conditions
The competition officially closes 12th March 2014 mid-day
One entry per household
There is no cash alternative
The prize comes directly from the promoters
Editors decision is final
UK entrants only
Winners will be contacted directly, if no response is received within 3 working days the entrant will be disqualified and another winner will be drawn and that person contacted