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Thoughts on reading and writing

the key to all story endings is to give the audience what it wants, but not in the way it expects.

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Encouraging yourself!

Well here’s an encouraging thing. I sat down to write. It was 10.25 and I thought. If I start now I won’t finish until 11.30 so I won’t start. And why is this encouraging? It reminds me that once I do get myself on it I just get swallowed up in it. I sink into it and I keep going.

 

So the next time I try and put it off, I need to remind myself about this thought. Even if I am going to bed now.

my top 5 children’s christmas books

I love Christmas, I go all out for it. One of the things I enjoy most is re-reading familiar Christmas stories. Last night, out with friends I mentioned my all time favourite to a friend and found she had never heard of it, so I thought I would compile a list of what I think are the best. I’m aware that my selection might be a bit dated sp feel free to correct me/recommend your own.

5. grinchHow the Grinch Stole Christmas -You can hardly find fault with Dr Seuss but this is as special pleasure. The lovely Whos and the miserable Grinch, the fantastic transformation from horrible trickster to gift-giver and merry maker.

‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought ‘doesn’t come from a store.

Maybe Christmas….

perhaps…

means a little bit more!’

I’ll try to remember that whilst pulling out my own teeth trying to get my last presents sorted.

4. boxThe Box of Delights – All written around Christmas and covering all sorts of mythology and magic of the Christmas season and the English countryside. I remember watching the BBC version on tv which had the most fantastic track over the credits. You can see it here. Just listening to it gives me the shivers.

 

 

3. father christmas lettersThe Father Christmas Letters – letters from Father Christmas to JRR Tolkien’s children written over 22 years from 1920 to 1942. They are all written in Father Christmas’s spidery hand and illustrated with beautiful pictures of life at the North Pole. There are elves, goblins and a marvellous Polar Bear. More Christmassy than your first mince pie.

 

2. mogMog’s Christmas – Good old Mog. One for the younger readers, but funny for everyone else too. Mog gets annoyed by all the preparations and decamps to the roof, but nothing is simple for her. I love tyhe way Judith Kerr shows us Christmas from  a completely different perspective.

 

dark 1. The Dark is Rising  – Not your typical Christmas book, but definitely my favourite. I read it every year and it evokes a little of the anticipation and excitement I had as a child when life was a little more magical. It’s filled with magic, myth and most importantly snow, but not Bing Crosby stuff. Follow Will as he comes of age into a world he must take on responsibility for saving.

 

On my list to read are Michael Morpurgo’s Christmas Stories and Lemony Snicket’s Lump of Coal. Hopefully I’ll get them in my stocking.

Words to avoid

Here’s a great list of words to avoid in your writing like absolutely, really, thing, stuff, went etc

Just read it, you’ll get great tips and find some words you never thought were a problem.

15 Words You Should Eliminate From Your Vocabulary To Sound Smarter

Indulgent or not?

I love this post on being an indulgent writer, by an unpublished novelist. I think she hits the nail on the head when she talks about the difference between a crafted piece and an indulgent piece – it all boils down to who you are writing for. Are you writing for yourself or for the reader? Or even in some cases for the anti-reader, the reader who will hate what you write?

Here’s the post on thewritepractice.com – which is a great site for inspiration.

All about writing

Some good advice for tightening up your writing

crayon00529Here’s a good post with some simple advice on tightening up writing from Jane Friedman. She is a published author who also offers a great blog on writing and editing, lots of good info on self-publishing and guest blogs/interviews with her connections that offer some very useful advice.

I find it important to read and learn from already published writers, particularly when your confidence takes a knock and there is some great advice on her blog. So here’s the article…

2 Stammer Verbs to Avoid in Your Fiction

Reading aloud

bfg coverOne of the most self-indulgent things I do is also one of the times I am sharing most with my daughter. At night I read to her, do all the voices, make it as dramatic and wonderful as I can for her and at the same time indulge my latent am-dram side. Stories like The BFG (which we are currently reading) are the best because they require accents which I love to do (in the privacy of my own house where the sheer awfulness of my attempts won’t be revealed!)

The ability to write books that work well aloud is something that gets either ignored or taken for granted. Perhaps all books for 4 – 9 yr olds should undergo a “reading aloud” test. I’d volunteer to take part in that.

Making time for reading

It’s so easy to make time to read when you have a commute. 25 minutes to work. 25 back from work. And no one to talk to – well, most of the time.

But I am currently on maternity leave and so I don’t have the luxury of that time any more. The current best bets are – 5 minutes before bed and 20 minutes during the night feed.

It’s not really enough but you make time if it’s something you really want – not unlike the time I devote to writing, maybe half an hour at night. This blog is another thing to make time for, but each time I write I hope to be honing my skills as a writer. Just as each time I read I do the same.

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