- Read a lot.
- Write whenever you can
- Start a journal of ideas and happenings.
- Carry a notebook with you so you can write down interesting things, ideas and descriptions of people you meet.
- Decide what sort of writer you are. If you like reading a certain kind of writing, (for example, sports pieces or vampire novels) then this is probably the sort of writer you will turn out to be.
- Volunteer to write articles and fiction pieces for local community or club newsletters.
- Join a writer’s group, or start one of your own.
LOOK AT STORIES AND ARTICLES IN MAGAZINES YOU READ
- How long are they? (How many words)
- What sort of style are they written in; lots of facts, or do people give their opinions.
- What sort of topics are in the magazine?
- Who are the types of people that are likely to read this kind of magazine?
- Journalist (includes newspaper, radio and tv)
- Copy writer (writes advertisements for newspaper, radio and tv)
- Screen writer (writes movies)
- Playwright (writes plays)
- Corporate Writer – writes newsletters and things for businesses.
- Technical Writer – writes instructions, computer manuals; technical stuff.
- Author – writes fiction and non-fiction books for kids.
- Performance writer – writes things they perform themselves
- Comedy writer – could write for yourself or for television and film
- Internet writer – work on websites etc for businesses and organisations.
SOME USEFUL WEB SITES FOR YOUNG WRITERS
- Dee White website
- Sally Odgers website
- Express Media
- The Book Chook
- Susan Stephenson
- Steph Bowes Hey Teenager of the Year blog
- From Hook to Book
- Kat Apel’s blog
- Book Trailer Making with Kim Chatel
To be a writer takes more than talent. You will also need to persist, keep writing, keep trying to get your work published; if you love your story don’t give up until you find a publisher who loves it too.
FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
If you are submitting for a competition or to a publisher, make sure you read the submission guidelines first (usually available on the publisher/competition website)
General guideline to follow are:
- 2 spaces between each line
- Times or other easy to read font – 12 pt
- 3 cm margins all the way around
- pages numbered with title of piece included as well
- Clean white paper (no tomato sauce or coke stains)
Once your work is ready to submit:
Read it out aloud to yourself; this will help you pick up some mistakes that you haven’t noticed. If spelling isn’t your strong point, make sure a good speller has looked over your work and helped you get rid of any mistakes.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the piece make sense?
- Is the piece attention grabbing?
- Does the piece have an original slant, idea or angle?
A portfolio is a folder of things that you have written and had published. Published work will add to your resume and help you get into writing courses and writing jobs.
To build up your published work, you might have to volunteer first; write for local newsletters. You could even volunteer to write ads or your community radio station. The more published work you have to show people, the better.
Most importantly, enjoy your writing and persist with it. Most writers don’t get published the first time they try, but many go on to make it their career.
My novel, Letters to Leonardo took more than ten years to write. In that time, I did more than 30 drafts and around 1,000,000 words. But when I held the published book in my hand for the first time, I knew that every hour I’d spent on it (around 1800) had been worth the effort.
The start of your story is very important. From the moment the reader turns the first page, your book needs to hook them in straight away; your first words should make the reader want to keep reading. Your beginning needs to put questions in the readers mind that are answered throughout the book.
Look at some books that you have enjoyed and see how the authors have started their stories. This will give you some ideas about how to hook your readers in.
It’s important for your sentences to begin and end in the right place. If they don’t, your writing won’t make sense to the reader.
TIPS FOR WRITING SENTENCES
- Read your work out aloud. If you pause, this is where the sentence should finish and a new one should start.
- Check to see that every sentence has a subject (person, animal, object or thing that the sentence is about) and a verb (action word eg ran, went, ate etc).
TENSE OR POINT OF VIEW
You need to decide if you are writing your story about something that has already happened (past tense; was, had, went etc) or something that is happening now (present tense; is have, go).
It is really important that your tense stays the same all the way through your story; otherwise it will be confusing for your reader.
SHOW DON’T TELL
Instead of writing about a conversation that your character overheard, show the conversation; show who said, what.
Instead of writing that, “Yesterday, John fell down a rabbit hole”; describe him falling down the rabbit hole.
ONLY USE WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO THE STORY
If your character had a banana for breakfast, the reader doesn’t need to know this; UNLESS, the banana is important to the story eg, it has been illegally smuggled, there was a diamond hidden in the banana.
Before you start, it’s important to know where your story is going, otherwise it will wander out of control
Some people plot out every move; other people see where their character takes them. It’s up to you, how you plot, but you should have some idea of how your story will end.
Your story should contain a series of events that add more and more tension, moving towards the high point (which is called the climax), this is where everything comes to a head. This is the point at which things are resolved and the loose ends are tied up.
Before you send your story off, get other people to read it and check for mistakes, typos etc. Ask them if your story made sense to them; if it engaged them and kept them wanting to know what happened next.
GETTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT ASSESSED
I don’t do manuscript assessments, but you can get one done by children’s author Sally Odgers who has had more than 200 books published.
Your local writer’s centre will also have information about where you can get your work assessed.
The Australian Writer’s Marketplace is another source of information for assessors and writing groups in your state/area. It also has lots of other great information about publishers and where you can get your work published.
Good luck with your writing.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
These are some of the things that make up a good story.
- A beginning that hooks the reader in
- A story that sounds good when you read it out loud
- A story where everything makes sense
- A story that has no spelling mistakes
- An exciting plot that keeps the reader reading and brings the story to a believable satisfying conclusion
- A main character that readers will care about; with good qualities and flaws
- A plot that follows a logical sequence of events
- A plot where the reader understands what’s happening in the story
- A plot with a beginning, high point and conclusion.
- Consistent tense – a story that doesn’t confuse readers by flitting around between the past the present and the future
- A story that uses easy to understand and interesting language
- A story that doesn’t have a lot of repetitive words
- A setting that is interesting, well described and relevant to the story
Dialogue that is believable, shows character and moves the story along
Where Kids can get published
- Daffodil Day Arts Awards (cancer theme)
- D-Mag - under 15 readership
- Eastern Regional libraries
- Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards – kindergarten to year 12
- Tim Winton Award for Young Writers – aged 5 to 17
- CYA Later Alligator Conference Competition
- John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers
- Fellowship of Australian Writers (Vic) – various competitions
- Alphabet Soup – literary Magazine for kids.
DON’T enter competitions that ask you to pay a large entry fee.
Other Publishing Opportunities
Voiceworks – a quarterly mag from Express Media publishes writers and artists under 25 – www.expressmedia.org.au
Vibewire.net promotes youth writing and art. Check out their competitons at www.vibewire.net
OzKids in Print (Childrens Charity Network) – www.ozkids.com.au
NSW School Magazines – publish mags for various age groups.
Alphabet Soup Literary Magazine for kids www.alphabetsoup.net.au/
DON’T submit work to places that want you to pay to have your work published.