Award nominated editors Ruth Bennett and Ella Whiddett give budding young writers some expert advice...
As editors, we love working with writers to make their writing the best it can be. All writers are different and have their own styles (that’s what makes stories so great!) – but there are some tips we give to the authors we work with to help them with their books.
Here are their expert writing tips for young writers:
Here are our top tips for writing your next story...
1. Start your story with a strong opening:
The beginning should hook your reader immediately and make them want to keep reading.
Maybe you could pose some questions that will make them want to find out the answers, or you could hint at what’s to come in the rest of the story.
Be careful not to ‘information dump’ and overwhelm your reader with too many details or characters too soon, though!
2. Build a vivid world:
The best stories are the ones you can lose yourself in and never want to leave!
A lot of that is down to the world the writer creates – the location the story is set in, the structure of that world.
You can take inspiration from the world around you – do you want it to be similar or totally different?
Adding in lots of detail will really immerse the reader in the world, as if they’re actually in it themselves!
3. Get to know your characters:
It can really help to think about your characters as real people.
Think about a whole range of situations and consider what they would do and how they would react.
What kind of things do they like? How do they spend their time? What motivates them?
If you get to know them and consider them as people who exist outside of the story, it will help you to make them feel even more convincing on the page.
4. Plot – or not!
Find your own style. Some writers love to plan their stories step by step, chapter by chapter, whereas others like letting the story’s shape develop as they go, working out the sequence of events as it unfolds.
Both are fine: experiment, have fun and discover what works for you.
5. Write with a distinct voice:
Think about who your main character is – are they the one telling the story, or is someone else?
Why is it important that we hear it from that perspective and what makes that voice unique?
If you’re writing in the first person, you may want the reader to connect with the narrator and share their emotions.
Or maybe you could have an unreliable narrator, who the reader can’t trust!
6. Present your protagonist with challenges:
Putting obstacles in front of your character will allow you to really show the reader who they are.
Think about what they want, what their hopes and dreams are, and then think about how to help them get there.
Writing can be just like that too – when it gets tough, keep on going and you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve.
7. Write the story you’d want to read:
It’s the best advice we can give!
Think about all the things you love when you read – and the things you’d like to see in a story but never have – and channel these into your own creation.
If you’re passionate about the story you’re telling, your reader will be too!
Editors Ella Whiddett and Ruth Bennett are shortlisted for the 2022 Branford Boase Award with author Ros Roberts for their work on 'Digger and Me'. The Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author and editors of the outstanding debut novel for children.
The winners of the 2022 Branford Boase Award will be announced on 14 July.