Writing Advice

First Post – Tackling Procrastination: The Ghosts of Projects Past

This blog featured in Bekki’s amazing book ‘NLP for Writers’ – she really is one of the best motivators I know – well worth a follow

Dartmoor Creative - Bekki Hill

Having been a creativity coach for almost 15 years doesn’t make me exempt from the pitfalls; my life goes out of kilter, I lose confidence, I get stuck, I think unhelpful thoughts, I procrastinate. But if I’m to ‘walk my talk’ I need to continually address these things. In this blog I’ll share how I do this in my creative life. In doing so, hopefully I’ll help my readers gain greater creative fulfilment and focus more effectively on their creative dreams. I’m also blogging to inspire, motivate and help myself and others increase and maintain creativity. I’ll probably blog about a few other creative things too. I hope you decide to join me on this journey.

Today, I’m starting by blogging about procrastination…

The Ghosts of Projects Past

GhostsI stepped into the new year with a trail of unfinished creative projects skulking behind me. As we head towards February they remain lurking in the…

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The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it like: working with an editor for the first time?

A shelf of books with a gap to fit an Evans book in.
Oh look, a space on the book shelf for an Evans

I remember the many questions I had, but didn’t like to ask, when friends got their first deals. I thought I might start a series of posts about the process of getting a debut novel from acceptance to the book shelf. Feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer. Continue reading “What’s it like: working with an editor for the first time?”

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

Eight Ways to Tricks Yourself into Writing

Most of us suffer with procrastinitis. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that you’re reading this blog for precisely that reason.  Maybe you need to trick yourself into writing. Here’s my top  tricks : Continue reading “Eight Ways to Tricks Yourself into Writing”

Writing Advice

Merry Christmas, Give Yourself Some Writing Time.

I’ve neglected this blog so much over the past year  I don’t deserve any readers at all.  Thank you for sticking with me.

It’s not just the blog. I’ve not been writing much at all. Not really. I’ve written my  silly poems for The Funeverse and tried to keep up with critique  in my SCBWI Ya Critique group ( I cannot tell you how much those people mean to me!) but writing in earnest…? Writing to show my agent I was still serious about my career…? No. Nothing. Nada. Continue reading “Merry Christmas, Give Yourself Some Writing Time.”

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

A Little Inspiration.

As regular readers know I’ve been slightly distracted  by farm business in the shape of Strawberry Fox. Writing has slid to the back of my desk. Or it had, until things conspired to give me a kick and get me back to my Work In Progress.

First was the arrival of Vivienne DaCosta at our Chichester SCBWI group. I’ve never met a more vibrant enthusiast for children’s books – many of you will know her from Serendipity Reviews.  Vivienne reads like no-one I know – she is teeming with book knowledge and she was excited by my new book. ‘ Write it, I want to read it!’ Vivienne DaCosta was excited by my idea!  Continue reading “A Little Inspiration.”

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

The Upside of Being An Unpublished Writer

1. Comradeship with other UW’s

2. No deadlines except the ones you set yourself.

3. Ability to write whatever you like.

4. Intact golden dream of life after publication.

5. Urm….

Please add more, I need cheering up…

 

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews, The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

Stephen King, Back to Haunt Me.

I love the satisfying structure of circular stories.

Wuthering Heights was my favourite book for years.  Catherine and Hareton coming together at the end turns the book into one of hope. Out of all that ugliness, all that sorrow, come  two people capable of kindness, strength, love.

J K Rowling does a similar thing in Harry Potter.  I know some people don’t like the end – the happy ever after – but I do.  Not the marriages, but how the orphaned Ted Lupin isn’t shoved in a cupboard like Harry was. Ted is surrounded by loving families and treasured.  Hope out of sorrow. Continue reading “Stephen King, Back to Haunt Me.”

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

The Idea’s Shop. ‘Where do your ideas come from’ and ‘why do writers eat so much cake?’.

Yum…

‘Where do you get your ideas from?’  Asks Everyman.

Mwah ha ha, we jest hilariously, ‘The Idea’s Shop.’

Idea’s Shop!  Ha.  What a ridiculous idea.

Isn’t it? Continue reading “The Idea’s Shop. ‘Where do your ideas come from’ and ‘why do writers eat so much cake?’.”

Writing Advice

What Makes a Writer?

I’m busy. Really busy. So I decided, until I  had an actual contract, I’d have to ease back on writing time, make way for other stuff,  the stuff  of life: Continue reading “What Makes a Writer?”

Writing Advice

Ten Essential Picture Book Elements

By Kathryn Evans

Sorry for the delay SCBWI friends – here, at last, are my notes from the Winchester Conference Picture Book  Intensive. The aim was to explore the essential elements that make  a breakout picture book with Sarah Frost, Commissioning Editor for picture books at Hodder, and Author/Illustrator Melanie Williamson.

The morning session covered the ESSENTIAL  basics:

1.  Title:

A great title should be  memorable, intriguing and match the tone of your story. Rhyme or alliterate, highlight the theme of your book, try and use the main characters name,  is there a catchy refrain from your story that you could use?  e.g Time for Bed, Sleepy Head Be short snappy specific. Check to see if your title has been used before! Be immediate – get attention fast.

2. Popular themes:

Bedtime

Siblings/new baby

Mum/dad

Love

Hugs

Worries

Importance of kindness/sharing

Counting

Feelings

First experiences of toddlers and things they’ll face when they’re growing up – eg potty training

Friendship

Pets

Growing up

Accepting difference

Facing fears.

3. Character:

What is unique about your character?

Is your characters name memorable?

Do they have friends or family?

How do they live?

Are they a goodie or a baddie?

What mood are they in?

Will they appeal to boys or girls?

4. Narrative plot:

Your story should have:

A beginning middle and end;

A problem that needs to be overcome which might then lead to

Conflict;

A resolution to the problem and satisfying ending;

A distinctive shape – cumulative, circular or in a question and answer format;

Not be a set up for other  stories.

5. Setting:

Can your story move between locations/settings – makes things more fun for the illustrator!

Be playful, try the unexpected;

Children are often more willing to accept unusual settings than adults;

Setting helps a child become involved in the story;

Setting can help set the mood of a story;

A white background will keep focus on the character and emotion;

6. Audience/Voice:

Consider your audience – both children and adults who buy the books;

Can your picture book have different layers to broaden its appeal?

Find your voice – individual, energetic, lively…

Is your unique personality coming through in your writing? E.g The Great Dog Bottom Swap

7. Your book should be great to read aloud:

Think about:

Rhythm

Repetition

Rhyme

Word play

Voice

Flow

Onomatopoeia

Sensory words

Similes

Length

Emotion

Animal noises

8. Think about the relationship between words and pictures:

Leave space for child to interpret story

Pictures can tell a part of the story that the words don’t

Pictures can add detail and humour

Pictures can tell a different story from the text

Text and illustrations should not be saying exactly the same thing

Give the child some element of control by having illustrations revealing what’s not said

Set your illustrator notes in seperate column so they don’t interrupt the text

Think about page turns and pacing

You need to tell your story in limited words while:

Increasing tension/suspense

Varying  rhythm

Creating excitement, drama and impact

Creating a ‘big reveal’ moment

9. The physical structure of a picture book contains:

Full spreads, vignettes, panels and frames )these can all be used to manipulate pace);

12 double spreads but it can stretch to 14 plus single page.

10. The ending – things to think about:

Match tone of your ending to the tone of your book

Can you bring your story full circle?

Could your ending have a surprise/twist?

Try to have your end in sight when writing;

A great ending can send the reader straight back to the beginning again.

The morning session carved an editorial pathway for the picture book script I’ve been sweating over but the hands on afternoon session gave me a little time to play with it.

We spent time looking at each of the above elements in detail – playing with our characters – interviewing them to give them depth. Writers played with storyboards to help visualise page turns. We had fun!   When you really examine your own writing, bearing the above  in mind, you might be surprised at what you’re missing.  I was.

Thanks Sarah and Melanie – you were inspirational and a tiny bit bonkers – in a wholeheartedly good way .

Kathryn Evans is the award winning author  of  More of Me and Beauty Sleep.

Beauty Sleep coverMore of Me new show card new