Monthly Archives: January 2019

An interview with… Philip Ardagh

In August 2016, for my Writing 4 Children slot in Writers’ Forum I interviewed one of mine and my children’s favourite authors, Philip Ardagh.

wf178-august-2016

He has been writing for over twenty five years and has over a hundred children’s books published, including The Moomins: The World of Moonminvalley, a series of books for the National Trust and the Stick and Fetch Investigate adventures.

He told me:

I suspect that I was born wanting — needing — to write. I filled old diaries and exercise books with my scribbles from a very early age, and English was my favourite subject at school. I knew that I wanted a career as a writer but had no real concept of the idea that one could earn a living as an author.

Philip’s  seven quick fire tips for writing for children are:

  1. Do a job you love
  2. Explore all aspects of the job
  3. Never dumb down
  4. Write the manuscript
  5. Never write yourself out
  6. Keep everything
  7. Make time to write.

Some advice I feel we all need to remember was:

Whoever you’re writing for — whether it be adults or children — the most important part is the actual writing. Not blogging about it, not telling people you’re a writer, not Tweeting or Facebooking about it, but ACTUALLY writing. Once you’ve written and rewritten and rewritten however many times, THEN is the time to start worrying about your social media presence.

To read Philip Ardagh’s essential tips in more detail take a look at #178 August 2016 issue of Writers’ Forum.

You can follow Philip Ardagh on Twitter @PhilipArdagh

Writing Pitfalls

These pitfalls are relevant to all novel writing, no matter what genre or age group you are writing for. They are also a great reminder for our writing at the beginning of a New Year.

falling

  • Positive characters. How can this be a pitfall? All characters need flaws. By the end of the book they discover a side to themselves they were never aware of and become a better person.
  • Not enough characters. Two characters are not enough; you need three so they can have a relationship.
  • Too many characters. More than four or five characters are difficult to monitor. The reader needs to understand how they feel about each other. Always have a main protagonist and sub-plot the others.
  • Over complicated set-ups. Great stories are simple with one great character, one great goal and good secondary characters. Whatever the set-up is at the beginning of the story it needs to be resolved.
  • Character has no influence on plot and vice versa. Events should escalate until the hero’s problem appear unsolvable. The aim of the protagonist is to restore life back to normal. Each event must be there for a reason. If it does not move the protagonist toward – or away – from their goal in some way, it needs to be cut.
  • Reliance on plot and coincidences. If the characters are not deep enough, they will not be able to resolve their problems.
  • Tension plateaus. There needs to be rising levels of tension.
  • Trust yourself to cut. The work and research is important and will still be there behind the story, like an iceberg.
  • Try not to control your writing too much. You can analyse too much. Trust your instinct. Often a fear of failure can hinder. Writers can be their own worse enemies.

I have used these ideas as a checklist whilst writing and editing my children’s books to keep me on track. I hope you find them as useful as I have.

Happy New Year

hny

new-year-animated-fireworks6

It is the end of the year all ready and time to take stock and think about what I want to achieve next year.

This year I have written sixteen books. That may even be a record for me.

 

Every year I give up alcohol from the 5th January to the 13th February and every year I have got really ill. My theory is I need the alcohol to kill off the germs. Liquor truffles just don’t do the trick. I have told my doctor my theory and she said if I knew I was going to get ill, I should start taking precautions beforehand. I never thought to ask her what precautions?

So, what are my targets or New Year resolutions for 2019? Well this January I want to give up alcohol without getting ill.

My goal for this year is to build-up my author platform by blogging regularly and hopefully creating a following. If you would like to help me toward this goal please follow my blog and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow my dogs Instagram account here.

I hope 2019 brings everything you wish for.

HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR!