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  How to write a story: tips & tricks

Get lots of advice from children's authors and illustrators

Your story should always be complete before you send it to Kids on the Net. We don't publish unfinished stories, because too many people have given up before sending the whole story!

Finish your story and check it over, and make it as good as can be. Work on it on paper, or in a word-processor. When it is finished and you have edited it, then type or paste it into the forms on the website.

Stories written straight into the form are not usually good enough to be published.

Getting Ideas

  • Write about something that you at least know something about. If you don't know some of the facts - and research the information you need carefully.
  • Be inspired by what's around you. Don't overlook your school as a source of inspiration.
  • Keep a diary every day — of things that happens to the people in your class and family — and you'll have enough to write about for a dozen novels.

Getting started - from author Philip Ardagh

Often, one of hardest things about writing is actually getting started. A blank page, or computer screen, stares at you as if to say: 'You think you're soooo clever. What are you going to write on me then, huh?' Once you've written down a sentence or idea - however simple or straightforward - then you've got something to work on.

Remember, writing a story isn't just about saying what happens. The way you tell something can be as important (and FUN) as the actual events you're describing. Take falling out of a tree, for example. It's an ordinary event, but there are so many different ways you can write it up.

Suspense: Will he, won't he fall?

Emotion: The fear, the fall, the pain...

Humour: Ooops! Aaaaaargh! THUD! (or, if it's a taller tree: Ooops! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! SPLAT!)

And how did that person get to be up in a tree in the first place? And what happened after the fall? From the simplest of ideas, other ideas are already beginning to take shape. Maybe it wasn't a person up the tree at all, but a penguin... and how, on Earth, did a penguin get to be up a tree? Did it parachute from a helicopter? Maybe it wasn't a tree, either. Maybe it was an ICEBERG.

Now lots of ideas are fizzing around the brain, down the arms and into the pen or keyboard. Hey presto! No more smug blank page or computer screen trying to stare you out. You're in charge. The writing is beginning to take shape...

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