A lot of teachers are members of Write Links and other writing groups. Their career has obviously been helpful as they know their audience. How has your career influenced your writing?
The jobs I've done in the past have been a big influence when it comes to my author path and my writing. I actually think that everything I did before I became an author was setting me up for this career, and is a massive help now.
For example, I worked in publishing, for Pan Macmillan and for Taltrade Books (now called Hardie Grant Gift). At Pan Macmillan, I was initially a publishing assistant, working for the Publishing Director, two different publishers, and the Production Supervisor. I worked on editorial tasks; chatted with authors; learnt about how print runs and reprints are decided; interacted with the sales, graphic design, marketing and publicity teams; and just generally learnt about how books are commissioned and published. Later, as a sales rep, I got to see how things worked on the other side of things, for bookshops and department and discount stores. After that, as a sales rep for Taltrade Books, I repped into non-bookstore outlets, such as gift shops, clothing stores, toy shops, chemists, hospitals, nurseries etc., and learned how books also get sold in non-traditional ways.
During my career I worked in marketing and PR roles, too, which taught me about how to work with journalists, plan and host events, create marketing materials, and research relevant media outlets. For five years I also ran my own online gift store. During this time I learned about setting up websites, search engine optimisation, online advertising, selling online etc. I also did a lot of writing and marketing, including pitching to journalists to get press placements.
My career has also included stints spent working in chain, independent, and second-hand bookstores. Plus, for the past five years I've been a full-time freelance writer, creating content for companies around the world.
All of this experience has had an impact on my author journey, as you can imagine. It effects both how I go about writing, and what I choose to write about. I think I come at things with a more business mindset than a lot of authors…which can be both a good thing and a bad thing!
Since you are so knowledgeable about the industry, do you ever have a battle between your heart and your head, over which way a story should develop?
Sometimes. Honestly, though, I pretty much think about how things will sell whenever I’m working on an idea or writing or editing a story. If I don’t think something has enough commercial appeal (in that it will be popular with both kids and adults, for a particular reason), I usually won’t spend time working on it further.
I have so many ideas, and not enough time to write, that I don’t have a problem with dropping things I don’t think will ever be published. Plus, as a freelance writer I’m very used to writing to someone else’s brief, and thinking about what others are looking for, rather than myself, so I think this makes it easy for me to be more objective.
Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off just writing purely from the heart (and I know a lot of authors recommend this), but I feel that facing commercial realities will help me to become a full-time author sooner than if I didn’t.
Someone else, with very different goals, will probably look at the writing process in a very different way, though. We all have an individual path to take, so I think it’s important to be aware of what yours is, and follow it. An approach that’s natural and works for me won’t be suitable for someone else, and vice versa.
Is your freelance writing work for children?
Most of my freelance writing work over the years has been corporate, so writing for businesses and individuals for a professional reason. However, I have done some freelance work that has been specifically for children, whether for a potential TV show, as part of a marketing campaign for a children’s product, or for apps and stories and the like. I hope to increase the amount of freelance work that is specifically kidlit related as time goes on.
Has your experience prepared you for being on the other side of the slush pile when you are sending your work in?
Definitely! I understand how publishers and bookshops (and other sales outlets) work, and what kinds of things they're looking for, plus I have an idea of how to pitch a story and what things to focus on. I’m aware of how important marketability and being commercial is, and I don't take rejections too personally because I understand all the steps involved.
During my career I always felt like I was searching for something, and not quite fitting in or finding exactly what I was after. I’d also been interested in being a writer but, to be honest, after working in publishing I saw just how hard it is to become a full-time author, and this put me off writing for around a decade.
Looking back now, though, I think everything I did over the years in my career prepared me to become an author now. I spent close to 20 years getting ready, lol! I don’t think I would have been ready earlier, and even though it took me a long time to start actually believing in myself enough to write my own books and put myself “out there”, once I did things moved along reasonably quickly.
I think the more aspiring authors can learn about the publishing industry and all the facets that are involved in being an author besides writing (that is, the business side of things), the easier their journey will be.
In your recently published picture book, the Cloud Conductor, the main character, Frankie, is very optimistic, despite her circumstances. Do you call on some of this optimism to deal with rejections and other complications in the journey to get your current works published?
Yes, for sure. I like to think I'm an optimistic person in general. I have worked hard to hone this trait in myself. I think, naturally, I can be quite melancholy at times, but I've learned how to take care of myself better, and how to handle down times and challenges more effectively than I used to. Truth be told, I actually probably spent more time working on my mindset before I picked up a pen to write a manuscript, then I have on the words and ideas themselves.
I think you have to build up your confidence, self-esteem, and resilience if you want to become an author, because there are always plenty of rejections to handle along the way. I was fortunate in that my first book contract happened quickly, but since then, I've had plenty of rejections, disappointments and other challenges to cope with.
If I hadn't worked on myself beforehand, I think I would have given up on certain manuscripts, and perhaps not even kept working on new ideas and stories either. Happily, I've found the confidence to try new styles, formats and techniques, writing wise. I wouldn't have done this if I didn't have ways of reminding myself that it's okay to "fail" as I go along.
ieanielle Freeland recently reviewed Cloud Conductor on Story Links https://storylinksau.com/2018/06/27/cloud-conductor/ and had some questions to ask Kellie.
What was your motivation behind writing Cloud Conductor?
Cloud Conductor was the first real idea I ever had for a picture book. It came about from reading an article about a sick child. It immediately hit me how hard it must be for kids who are unwell and who can’t do the things they normally love. From here, I thought about how their imagination would be one of the best things they could use to cope with this challenge.
I know how important creativity is to me, and how the imagination can help with tough times, so I thought this would be a good topic to address in a picture book. Kids need to be encouraged to see their imagination as a wonderful thing, not a bad thing!
I think we live in a society where, in general, a lot more focus is put on supposedly practical subjects and practices; creativity is often looked down upon. Kids often come out of school having lost a lot of that wonderful imagination they had when they were little, which is so sad.
But the fact is: creativity is a very important tool. It has been proven to help with both our physical and mental health, plus of course it aids us to solve problems in life and at work, and much more. I’m loving the fact that with Cloud Conductor I can spread the message to children (and hopefully remind adults, too) that the imagination is a gift to cherish.
Frankie doesn't appear to get better in the book. Is Frankie terminally ill?
Well, that’s a matter of opinion! Different people see this differently after reading the book. It was purposely left up to the reader to decide. I know how I originally saw this story in my head, but I’m not going to talk about it here, as I think it’s good for each reader to interpret things in the way that works for them.
What were you most hoping to achieve in sharing Frankie's journey?
A big goal for this book was, as mentioned above, showcasing how wonderful the imagination is. I also hope the book can be a source of hope, inspiration, and entertainment for sick children. In addition, I think the story can serve as a prompt for discussions in schools, libraries, and at home for all children about topics and themes such as illness, empathy, resilience, supporting others, mindfulness, the seasons, and much more. From the feedback I have received so far, I think my hopes are being turned into reality, which is wonderful!
Interview by Lucy McGinley https://www.brisbanewritelinks.com/lucy-mcginley.html
Write Links Meeting 29 June 2018
Blog by Tyrion Perkins
Rainforest Writing Retreat
Each year a large group of authors head for the Scenic Rim hills, to stay at O’Reilly’s and top up their writing skills, while immersed in the beautiful rainforest environment. Some love it so much they attend every year. Charmaine Clancy created it five years ago, so she could go, and it has been running each May ever since.
She showed us photos from 2018’s retreat which included talks by Kylie Chan, Brian Faulkner, and Founder of Book Cover Café, Anthony Puttee. Queenie Chan gave a workshop on graphic novels, and Robert D Gennari showed how to fight and write about it. Kaz Delaney acted as a mentor to attendees, and we drooled at the food baked by another Write Links member, Christine Titheradge.
Charmaine reported that they have now set it up as a non-profit organisation, and created a Facebook group for everyone who has attended in the past. She is also working on publishing an annual anthology. As a past attendee I can highly recommend it.
Go to http://www.rainforestwritingretreat.com for more information.
Write Links Meeting 29 June 2018
Blog by Tyrion Perkins
Social Media Marketing Plan
Ian Morrison, who has qualifications in this area, gave a presentation on Instagram and how Write Links members can use our new account.
He explained what it is: Blogging, but mainly visual. You post a photo or image and a few words of text and it goes out to any followers who can like it or re-post it to their followers. Unlike Facebook, it is one-way, so it is mostly about selling yourself. Celebrities and entertainers often use it for this end. In statistics of users, young people dominate.
Ian proposed three types of posts:
1. Group and event photos
2. Author profiles
3. Quotes/inspirations words
For the author profiles, he wants photos of you in your natural environment doing writing, or whatever you do that is related. Fun and quirky is good, such as sitting at a desk in a field or up on a roof. Something that will give the flavour of what you are about, but also get noticed. Also, a photo of your book cover.
You can’t upload photos from your computer because Instagram was created for smart phones or tablets. But for the Write Links account, members can send a photo to Ian via a special Drop Box folder and he will put it up for us. If you want to add text, you will have to send a text to his phone. You will need to download the Insta Square app to add your own account details onto the photo before sending.
The instructions for our Instagram account will be in the Drop Box. If you are part of Write Links and you haven’t yet been sent the link, message Write Links Facebook page.
Join award winning and multi-published children's and YA authors and illustrators Peter Carnavas, Isobelle Carmody and Dave Lowe for a day of master classes on Saturday the 11th of August at the State Library on South Bank.
Learn from these talented authors and illustrators, get your questions answered and your books signed.
These master classes will be especially of interest to emerging and experienced children's and YA writers, but newbies and lovers of children's literature are also welcome.
Planned by authors for authors, Write Links members and YA and Children's Book Authors Hayley Jackson and Charlotte Barkla with assistance of children's author and illustrator and Write Links Coordinator Yvonne Mes have been planning this amazing event and they know just what you are looking for!
They have aimed to give you a well-rounded day which looks at everything from picture books to writing for Young Adults and to go beyond the basics.
The presenters have been selected based on their engaging and informative presentation styles and their expertise in their areas.
This event would not be possible without the support from Book Links.
7.45am - Registration and Networking
8.15am - Welcome
8.30 am- 10.30am Peter Carnavas, Picture Book and Junior Fiction Author and Illustrator talks about picture book writing and illustrating.
Morning Tea and Book Signing
11am - 1pm Isobelle Carmody, YA and Children's Writer will look at developing an authentic voice across a novel, creating diverse characters and developing strong character arcs.
Lunch and Book Signing
2.30pm - 4.30pm Dave Lowe, Junior Novel Author will focus on instilling humour into your story and structuring your junior fiction novel.
Please note that morning tea and lunch are not included. You can purchase food and drinks from the Bookshop Cafe and Whale Mall Cafe.
Book signings will take place in the Library Bookshop across from Room 1B.
Full Day $60.00 for Book Links/ Write Links Members and students
Full Day $80.00 non members
Room 1B, State Library of Queensland
Stanley Place, South Brisbane, Qld 4101
Peter creates picture books for children and grown-ups to enjoy. He writes simple yet poignant tales, accompanied by whimsical illustrations, which combine to create layers of meaning for the reader. His books include Jessica's Box, Last Tree in the City, The Great Expedition and his latest picture book, The Children Who Loved Books, a warm and moving celebration of books and the ways in which they bring us together. He has also collaborated with Pat Flynn on My Totally Awesome Story, an action-packed comedy that manages to make kids laugh and learn how to write stories at the same time.
Peter's presentations involve cartooning, storytelling tips, illustration techniques, hands-on fun and lots of audience participation. With a background in primary school teaching, Peter has a natural rapport with children and loves showing them how they can create stories and illustrations themselves.
Peter's work has been nominated for many awards, including the Queensland Premier's Literary Award, The Children's Book Council of Australia Crichton Award and Speech Pathology Australia's Book of the Year Award. His books have been translated into many languages.
Peter was honoured to be a National Year of Reading Ambassador in 2012 and continues his role as a Love2Read National Ambassador in 2013.
Isobelle Carmody is one of Australia's most highly acclaimed authors of fantasy. At fourteen, she began Obernewtyn, the first book in her much-loved Obernewtyn Chronicles, and has since written many works in this genre. Her novel The Gathering was joint winner of the 1993 Children's Literature Peace Prize and the 1994 CBCA Book of the Year Award, and Greylands was joint winner of the 1997 Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction (Young Adult category), and was named a White Raven at the 1998 Bologna Children's Book Fair.
Isobelle's work for younger readers includes her two series, The Legend of Little Fur, and The Kingdom of the Lost, the first book of which, The Red Wind, won the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers in 2011. She has also written several picture books as well as collections of short stories for children, young adults and adults.
Dave is a Brisbane-based author of twelve acclaimed books aimed at children between 7 and 11.
The ‘Stinky and Jinks’ books, illustrated by Mark Chambers, follow the exciting adventures of a boy and his genius hamster. The first book, My Hamster is a Genius, was highly commended at the prestigious Sheffield Book Awards in the UK in 2013 (second only to Tom Gates) and the series (six books) has already been translated into six languages, and has sold over 100,000 copies worldwide.
Dave is also the author of two ‘Squirrel Boy’ books, illustrated by Cate James, about a new kind of superhero, and his 73 year-old sidekick, Mrs Onions. The first book, Squirrel Boy vs The Bogeyman, won a Lancashire Fantastic Book award in 2016. Winner of Teach Primary Book Award 2018 - UK
What are you waiting for? Book your ticket now!
YA Author Hayley Jackson presented a dynamic workshop on how she develops her YA kick arse characters during our Write Links meeting on the 2nd of June.
She emphasised the importance of a strong voice and giving her characters lots of layers, like an onion. She particularly stressed that it’s worth developing the characters back story as this can affect their responses and dialog, and that it is important to include characters that contrast each other.
Here is a brief description of the character archetypes. Some characters may overlap one or two archetypes as we discovered when we looked at a few popular characters. There is more to Grandma Poss than you first think!
Gives us a window into the story
Someone we can identify with
Is the character that changes the most
Has a strong will and desire that drives the story
Challenges the hero
Is the spark that sets of war
Is the call to adventure at the end of Act 1. Could even be a phone call, newspaper article or a storm
Teaches and trains the hero
Is who the hero wants to become
Hero has to prove they are worthy to their Mentor
Is or presents obstacles on the road to adventure
Provides puzzles or tests
When overcome/won over becomes the ally and or a source of strength
Whose side are they on?
Unstable/ misleads the hero
Their loyalty is always in question
Often does not think of themselves as the villain
There to humanise the hero
Asks questions that you want answered
Comic relief and bring heroes and readers down to earth
Catalyst - affects others but doesn't change themselves
So how does Hayley build her Kick Arse characters?
She dreams about them, thinks about them all the time. She makes a time and place to specifically focus on them such as the shower. She will make up a playlist for them, decide on their favourite drink, food and more!
She gives them an authentic voice by filling out a character bio which includes;
Hayley’s presentation included the established archetypes and an insight to her personal experience of creating characters. Through working through the activity sheet and sharing our thoughts we were able to learn the process of unpacking a character and met a new character Jocelyn created which I can’t wait to read more about.
At the December meeting we had the pleasure of having Dr. Zewlan Moor come and tell us all about Bibliotherapy.
Bibliotherapy is a form of therapy where a patient is given a selected reading list recommended by a professional that is relevant to the situation they are facing and is a tool to help them.
I found this article on Bibliotherapy a great explanation of its history and its different forms www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/bibliotherapy. Interestingly, Bibliotherapy dates back as far as the Ancient Greeks
Dr. Zewlan Moor works as a general practitioner, but she also shares a love for children’s literature which she studied at university as well. She is combining her passions in both areas and is setting up her business, Byron Bibliotherapy.
After having an initial consultation with a patient, Dr. Moor will recommend a reading list of up to 10 books to her patients to be read over a year to help open them up about their current situation. At the end of the year, the patient can have a follow-up consultation if they choose.
Many members of Write Links encouraged Dr. Zewlan and saw the relevance of how books can help a person process what they are going through or relate to a character in a similar situation.
Literature and the Arts have a way of connecting with their audience and it is no wonder these different mediums are one way to help people heal.
Story by children's author Rebecca Sheraton.
‘Writing is fun’ or ‘Novels are an exercise in extreme delayed gratification’ — a workshop with Christine Bongers.
It is a sultry day in early November during a Write Links meeting at the State Library Queensland.
A tall, beautiful, youthful woman walks into a library meeting room... the crowd bustles, herded by another tall, beautiful youthful woman (with an intriguing European accent). The air is thick with anticipation —scraping chairs, coughs and murmurs, shuffles and smiles. Today is the day: a workshop with Christine Bongers, on the craft and pleasure of writing for children.
If shorthand were still a thing, I’d have copied Christine’s workshop, verbatim — it was that good! Here is what I gleaned:
PART I: The First Draft
“Perfection is the enemy of finishing”
All you can do in your first draft is write the first draft. Focus on character, conflict and context. Christine admits to writing and editing as she goes, but only to the point where she can move from one dramatic unit to the next.
She also believes that ‘real’ writing starts at the rewriting phase. (For Christine, writing a first draft feels like being constipated... um...).
Tip: the first draft is for the writer; the following drafts are for the reader.
Write – Edit – Polish – Think – Repeat
We do this to find out what needs to be shown and what needs to be told.
Let’s replace ‘show, don’t tell’ with ‘show and tell’.
Scenes are dramatic units where we can show. Tell the ‘unimportant’ bits in between dramatic units (more on this later!).
PART II: Structural Edits?
A structural edit is a big-picture analysis to find out if your story works. Ask yourself these questions: does it make sense? Does it work? Do the sub-plots have any use? How many characters can you kill off? Are your characters and relationships engaging, believable and well-rounded? (Christine once received a 19-page structural edit in the mail from her publisher. She survived. The baby flourished.).
Tip: you can do anything if you’re clever and you make it work.
PUT YOUR FIRST DRAFT AWAY. After you have finished the first draft (otherwise known as your baby), put it aside so that you can forget it. This will give you some perspective on how ugly (or pretty) your baby is.
Tip: Structural edits are are like autopsying puppies — do it and do it well, so fewer puppies die.
Pay attention to your main characters
Who wants to read a book where they hate the main character? They must be relatable.
Point of view
Is the point-of-view consistent, authentic and engaging? (Be ready to trash an 80,000 word novel and start again. Christine did!).
‘Voice’ is the way the words sound on the page. Watch out for little idiosyncrasies in your writing. Are there habitual repetitions you are making, without realising?
Pace and flow
Does your story move forward, does it take the reader with it? If it moves too quickly, it will exhaust the reader, wear them out. Look out for sidetracks and dead ends. Is the tension building too fast or too slow?
Tell us what your character is feeling! Not just ‘she did this, then she did this, then she did...’.
Dialogue is a vivid opportunity to move plot, reveal character and create tension.
Make it real! Give it life! Rid it of clunk! Make your characters sound true and entertain your audience. Tip: listen into phone conversations on the bus! Take note of any entertaining turns of phrase.
Tip: Story is THE BOSS. Everything has to serve the story.
Do a line-by-line scan for clichés, repetition, lazy adverbs, idiosyncratic bits & pieces.
Part III: How to Show and tell.
First, ask the experts: Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass. Anton Chekhov.
Showing omits detail efficiently. It makes scenes vivid and allows the reader to experience the story through thoughts and senses, rather than through exposition.
Why not tell?
A synopsis will tell; a story will show.
Examples: ‘The crackle of dry grass underfoot’ shows us it’s hot and there’s a drought.
Make a scene bloom! How?
Show and Tell — it’s not an either/or. It’s about knowing when and how. Telling is quick, showing takes time. Know when your story needs to be slow, or where it needs to move quickly.
Tell what your reader needs to know — just enough to move them onto the next dramatic scene.
Tip: don’t tell us your character is an arrogant pain in the arse — let him swagger!
Yes, but how exactly?
Use verbs: stories are about what people DO.
Be specific: specifics tell the story. Deploy telling details. For example, imagine the new kid dropped off at school for the first time. If he is dropped off in a limo, what could that say about him? How much story could be written around that one tiny detail? Perhaps he is a pop start; perhaps his parents are drug lords; perhaps his dad is the chauffeur. Specific details build expectation and set up character.
The story is seen through the prism of the main character’s experience. Experience = ‘doing’.
Don’t be too concerned with themes — these become evident after you’ve written your story. Trust the process.
Dialogue makes the reader experience the story as if they were there — make it entertaining! It reveals character, furthers the plot and is a very good tool for subverting expectations! Don’t overuse it.
Metaphor shows actions, reactions and emotional landscape. A story isn’t just about what happens, but how what happens affects your main character. Show us how your character is changed by the story.
Thank you, Christine Bongers!
Story by Zoe Collins
Linking to the Curriculum PD was presented by school teachers Hayley Jackson and Rebecca Sheraton at Brisbane’s Write Links group.
Hayley and Rebecca showed us how to link our books to the Australian curriculum.
Books with specific links to the Australian Curriculum are more desirable to publishers. Linking to the Curriculum increases your chances of publication and your books being purchased by schools and libraries.
Please consider linking your books to the curriculum.
Where do you start linking to the curriculum?
BOOK Samples: Linking to the Curriculum ...
A: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Year 2 - Science:
Biological Sciences: Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves.
B: If I Die Before I Wake by Martii McLean
English - Year 9
C: Meet Sidney Nolan by Yvonne Mes & Sandra Eterovic
Year 6 - History
Knowledge and Understanding:
The contribution of individuals and groups, including Aboriginal people and/or Torres Strait Islanders and migrants, to the development of Australian society, for example, in areas such as the economy, education, science, the arts, sport.
Now it’s Your Turn …
Karen Tyrrell writes empowering books to help kids live STRONG through humour and self-belief. She’s a passionate writing workshop presenter and interactive story teller wearing fun costumes.
Write with Passion - Hook, Hold and Keep Readers
Deborah Abela’s hands-on writing workshop for Write Links on 5th August, 2017 inspired so many writers, that many bussed, trained and car-ed home to rework their opening paragraphs. Others who attended critique groups shortly after, saw part of their peers’ works anew. Abela, former teacher, Cheez TV writer and author of 25 book was courageous admitting her constant doubts about her writing ability. Audible sighs of relief signalled the audiences’ appreciation for her candidness. Abela’s 15-year writing career saw her share the ‘Big Things she Knows Now about Writing for Kids’.
Write A Killer First Paragraph
Abela’s first big tip. ‘Your first chapter has to be short, sharp, solid, fast. It’s got to grab your young reader. It’s got to almost have a beginning middle and end, and a cliff hanger at the end. You want to hook them… hold them and keep them reading.’ The first lines were critical to hook the reader. In positioning herself as a ‘reader’, Abela role played asking questions after reading Gleitzman’s opening lines.
Morris Gleitzman’s Once — ‘Once I was living in an orphanage in the mountains and I shouldn’t have been. And I almost caused a riot. It was because of the carrot.’
Abela/Reader - ‘What do you mean you’re living in an orphanage and you shouldn’t have been? So are your parents still around… or not still around? What do you mean you almost caused a riot? And what… does a carrot have to do with anything? Morris has that beautiful balance between the very very serious and a lovely note of comedy.’
Also, ‘What is the story I'm trying to tell and are you doing it? With every paragraph, every single chapter, what is the story I'm trying to tell? With Grimsdon I'm trying to tell about a bunch of kids who are stuck in a flooded city and are desperate to escape.’
Kids to Lead the Action
The basics of writing for kids, ‘it must be kid-focused where often kids lead the action with maybe an adult nearby.’ Often Abela gets rid of the adults ASAP or sidelines them. She found the easiest book to do this was in Grimsdon where she flooded an entire city, rescued most of the people, took them somewhere else but left some kids behind. ‘The kids could do whatever they wanted. They didn’t have to be home for bedtime or have to explain the broken bones because they’d been on an adventure hanging from a plane.’
Abela is diligent with questioning her motives for writing. ‘Why am I writing? Why am I writing this particular piece? Is it because I'm excited… Is it a period in history I love? This story won't leave me alone... it's driving me nuts... I wake up at 3 in the morning... can't get the characters out of my head.’ Whatever your why, a passionate answer will see you committed to your project.
Novels have Behaviours
Abela said her novels had their own personality and likened them to being child-like. ‘Some (stories) come roaring out... like in The Spelling Bee. It was a delightful, playful gorgeous thing and it sort of wrote itself.’
However, Grimsdon was her naughty child. ‘No matter how nice I was to it, it would not behave. It felt like I dragged every single word out of some word rock.’ Her editor advised, 'Just write one paragraph at a time, one page at a time and you will get to the end.’
Three Story Elements
Abela explained the elements using the cake baking analogy. ’At the very, very beginning, your story needs the three basic ingredients ‘character, setting and problem.’ Put these three elements into the Plot Pot… take those characters, put them into an interesting setting… then we make as much stuff go wrong for them… .’
Abela says, know your characters like you’ve met them. Make them interesting, especially if you’re asking kids to hang out with them for a whole novel or series.
Your setting is the same. “The single nicest thing a kid has said is, ‘I felt like I was in that book.’ It means you’ve done it. You’ve created a world and you’ve created kids that feel real. And that this (world) could possibly exist. No matter your world, whether soccer fields, haunted castles or World War II, it must be authentic.”
Know what your characters want, then create problems to achieve it. ‘What is the thing your character wants the most? It’s usually numerous things, but what is the one thing driving that character? For India Wimple in the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee, what she wants is to win the spelling competition.’ But first she wants ‘not to have that feeling of throwing up in front of a group she doesn’t know.’ The things you throw at your character must be hard to get, but not impossible. And it mustn’t be frustrating for the reader.
VOICE IN YOUR HEAD
Abela found a way to silence the ‘voice in your head’ that often reminds you how bad you are. She learned to become so involved in her characters and their story, that it felt like she’d forgotten the ‘voice’ was there. ‘I ignore it. I don’t give it permission… I haven’t got time to listen to you… I’ve got a city to flood or I’ve got some kids to rescue… so get out!’
The drafts goes through several stages - from a solid foundation to build your story on, to making sense, to rewriting, to fine tuning and then finessing.
EDITOR’S NOTES ARE GOLD
For Grimsdon, it showed Abela how close she was to her characters and story. When the editor said, ‘I know why you like this character, I don’t know why I should.’ In her rewrite, Abela had to transfer her passion for her character to the reader so they’d have more empathy.
‘No matter what you write, you must be passionate about what you are writing.
Abela’s books have won Australian and USA awards — www.deborahabela.com
The StoryArts Festival 2017 took over Ipswich from the 2nd to the 10th of September. And Write Links members were there to report on all the action!
The volunteers, lead by Tyrion Perkins, reported on the School Program, Adult Program and Family Program providing a stream of articles on the children's authors and illustrators presenting during the literary week.
The StoryArts Festival Ipswich began in 1995 as the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature and has been held every two years since then. The festival offers free sessions for children and low cost sessions for adults and young adults with an interest in children’s literature such as teachers, librarians, and emerging writers and illustrators.
The festival aims to increase an awareness of the value of the arts in relation to writing and illustration and help build and maintain increased audiences for children’s literature. The festival inspires young people to buy and read more books and gain an appreciation of the processes involved in writing and illustrating. We also aim to enthuse teachers and parents about the value of stories and encourage them to promote literature to young people.
The Ipswich Festival is organized and funded mainly by the Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian Network and now also supported by Write Links Volunteers!
The team consisted of: Tyrion Perkins, Maria Parenti-Baldy, Danielle Freeland, Karen Tyrrell, Rebecca Sheraton, Yvonne Mes, Dimity Powell and Jacqui Halpin and also included Megan Daley from Children's Books Daily.
Read their stories here:
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