Sophie’s top ten tips for aspiring writers
1. Read a lot Read whatever you enjoy – if you really liked it, read it again and see if you can work out why. Was it because you cared about the main characters? Or because the story was so exciting that you couldn’t wait to find out what happened next? Or were the descriptions so beautiful they took your breath away? Maybe all three.
2. Daydream a lot Let yourself dream your way into your stories. Gazing out of the window is a great way to come up with ideas! Don’t forget to keep a notebook to write it all down in, though. I always think I’ll remember, but I know I’d forget most of my ideas if I didn’t make a note of them!
3. Write a lot Practice makes perfect, as they say. There’s only one way to get good at anything and that’s to keep working at it! Try your hand at writing whatever takes your fancy – poems, short stories, made-up letters to imaginary pen-friends…
4. Whose story is it? Make sure you know whose story you’re telling – who is your main character (or characters)? What do they want or need? How are they going to try and get it? Will they achieve their goal in the end, or not?
5. Plenty of obstacles Once you know what your main character wants or needs, you can come up with lots of great ways to stop him/her on the way! Plenty of conflict makes stories more interesting and dramatic.
6. Show don’t tell It’s usually much more effective to show us someone experiencing a mood or a feeling than simply to tell us how they feel. Look at this, for example:
Jack walked in and I felt so angry I wanted to hit him… compared with: Jack sauntered into the room. I clenched my fists. It was all I could do not to punch him in his silly, smirking face…
Okay, so the first example tells us what’s going on, but the second helps us get inside the character’s head more strongly.
7. Be specific It’s always the details that make what you’re writing about feel real – whether you’re trying to describe a person, a place or a feeling, it’s the detail that counts.
8. Don’t just SEE things Lots of writers are good at describing visual stuff. But don’t forget the other senses – write about how things feel and smell and sound and taste, too.
9. Don’t give up Persistence is vital! Try and write regularly if you can, so that it becomes a habit. If you do stop, don’t feel bad about it. You can always start again.
10. Have fun! The most important tip of all! Writing isn’t always easy, but it can be very rewarding! And don’t be put off by the fact that so many other people want to write – YOU CAN DO IT TOO!