Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: February 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

'I Remember' Story Starter

'Where do you get your ideas?' That's what kids always ask.

I believe that the best place to search for story ideas is your own life. Especially for kids. I read so many stories about mutant-zombies taking over the world and being blown up by armies of gung-ho commandos. But, rarely, a story that a kid can tell authentically. The story can be about a mutant-zombie but, as a reader, I just want one that I can relate to.

My Nan's Tougher illustration by Gus Gordon
In My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up and the upcoming My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrong I use my own memories from childhood as the starting point and then I add fictional elements, pushing those stories to the end of the line. They are a mash of fact and fiction.

Girl I Like Most in My Class illustration by Gus Gordon.
I Remember
Spend five minutes freewriting a list of memories from your childhood. They can be significant or mundane events. The goal is to write as many memories as possible in five minutes. Write flat out. Don't stop. And go.

1. I remember...

2. I remember...

3. I remember...

4. I remember...

5. I remember...

At the end, read through and choose your favourite idea to develop into a story!

This Story Starter is in the My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up teaching materials and is inspired by an exercise in John Marsden's inspirational book Everything I Know About Writing.


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Creative Process

'The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it... So if you are paralysed with fear, it's a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.'
- Steven Pressfield

Reading Steven Pressfield's brilliant book, The War of Art, I have been thinking a bit about my own creative process.

My feeling is that the book or story will write itself if you will let it. The big challenge is to stop thinking about creating and just to create. Get out of the way and let all the frustrations and questions and mistakes and inner turmoil flow onto the page.

We always want to be boss, to control things, but I don't think creativity works that way. I like to get up at six in the morning and start writing before my brain gets up and starts thinking too much and crushing my sub-conscious, which is where all the best story bits live.

Hope you get time to make something today.

(Images by Amber Melody)

Monday, February 18, 2013

The War of Art

I am reading The War of Art at the moment and I have had a realisation.

The opening of the book talks about 'Resistance'. I considered skipping ahead. I thought, 'I'm not resistant to writing. I do it every day.' But, recently, I have started letting the Web eat my creativity and slice up my morning writing time into tiny ten-minute slivers.

I realised that my form of Resistance is checking email, tweeting and 'researching' on the Web while I am writing. As the writer Dave Eggers says in a quote that I love: 

'Writing is a deep sea dive. You need hours just to get into it: down, down, down. If you’re called back to the surface every couple of minutes by an email, you can’t ever get back down. I have a great friend who became a Twitterer and he says he hasn’t written anything for a year.'

Rainbow captured in Camera + app.
So I've stopped. If I pause for a moment I'm trying to go for a walk, throw something for the dog, read something, but stay away from the Web, my major form of Resistance. If I tweet between 6am and midday now, it'll be something interesting I've found and scheduled earlier. 

Will update you on progress. (I'm one day into my trial ;-)) And g'luck with beating your own resistance to whatever it is. The book is well worth a read for all kinds of procrastination, not just creative.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Story Safari

I accomplish more in a day writing on the beach and walking the cliff trails than I ever do at a desk. And I feel good at the end of the day. Pain does not equal good work, I have found. Here are some images from yesterday's story safari.

I am running a Story Safari / outdoor writing adventure for kids on the banks of the Brisbane River 24 June with QLD Writer's Centre. We'll set off from the State Library and walk and write and discover and let the world flow onto the page. Details are here.

Nature is the mother of creativity.
Walking and the roar of ocean make you forget yourself.
The story happens to you without you even noticing.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Storystarters - Just a Dog

Inspired by our recent reading of Michael Gerard Bauer's brilliant novel Just a Dog, I have been working with my sons on our own dog stories. It's no secret that most kids love animals so they make for brilliant story starters with funny, insightful and emotional results.

Here are some of our Starters (Hope they work for you. Let me know how you get on):

1. 'I remember'... Write a list of as many memories of Boston (our dog) as you can in five minutes. No stopping to think. No making it perfect. Just write flat out and see what happens.

2. Choose one of those memories and write it in greater detail, then add fictional elements if you like. Expand the story. Ten minutes. And... go!

3. Think about what it would be like to be a dog. What would be going on inside them? Do they have thoughts or just feelings? How might the world look from their perspective? Write a story from a dog's point-of-view. Ten minutes. Flat out. No stopping.

4. Write a conversation between you and a dog. If a dog could speak what might they say? How might they sound? What would they be concerned with that humans might not think about?

Boston the Dog
These are fun freewriting exercises but they also explore Memory, the Melding of Fact and Fiction in Stories, Empathy, Detail, Point-of-View, Anthropomorphism and Dialogue – key elements of the writer's craft.

Enjoy! (Check out other Story Starters here.)


Monday, February 4, 2013

Tip For Turning Children Onto Reading

This is my one and only parenting tip.

I have two sons, 7 & 9, and they are ridiculously keen readers. They beg to go to the library and bookstore. I write books so I guess it's not a huge surprise but the thing is, they don't read to please me.

There is one key thing that I believe has turned them on to reading. (Aside from frequent library trips, having lots of interesting books around, reading a lot myself, reading to them for ten minutes each night since they were in the womb and all the usual stuff. ;-)

Here it is: If they choose to wake before 7am the only choice is to read. No Lego, no games, no TV, no beating one another for entertainment. Just read. Asterix, Tintin, Lego Annuals or meatier tomes. The choice is theirs. But if they don't want to read, they must stay in bed and sleep or rest till 7am.

I encourage you to try it. You will either end up with a very well-read or a very well-slept child. Either works.

(Oh, and if your kids stay up late and need to be dragged from bed in the morn, maybe the above could be done for the last hour at night?)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books. All rights reserved.
Blogger Template by pipdig