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WRITING TIPS – HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR STORIES

TUTI WITH THROWAWAY NOTES

We had so many great entries in the last competition.

Unfortunately, due to the large number, we can’t provide individual feedback or post the stories online.

But to help writers, I’ve written these tips.

They are based on some of things that could have been stronger in the stories we received.

I hope you find them helpful.

WRITING TIPS

Main Characters – Introduce main character and focus on them – don’t get sidetracked by other characters.

You don’t need to describe how characters look unless the way they look has something to do with the story. For example in the 101 Dalmations, the dogs were dognapped because of the way they looked.

Repeat Information - Try not to tell things and then show the same thing. For example, “The man rushed up to me angrily.”

“I’m going to get you for that.” He rushed up and shook his fist at me.

You don’t need the first line because from the man’s actions, the reader can tell that he is angry.

Another example would be something like, The teacher told us he was going to give us homework for the weekend.

“We haven’t done enough in class,” he said. “I’m going to have to give you homework to do on the weekend.”

Here again, you don’t need the first line because the second line says it all.

Get straight to the action - If someone has had an accident, you don’t need to say how your main character found out about the accident and how they travelled to the hospital to see them.

Start the story with them at the bedside of the person who has been in the accident or show them being a witness to it and responding to what’s happening.

Smooth writing between scenes – Make time transitions smooth. If something bad happened and the next scene is a few weeks, months or years later, you need to give the reader some idea of what happened to the character in that space of time.

For example, if the main character was orphaned, where are they now living?

You don’t have to give too much detail, but you need to set the scene for the reader so that they know what has changed for the character as a result of being orphaned.

Story problems – It’s good to have a lot of action and mystery, but you need to establish a story problem for your character that has to be hinted at right from the start of their story.

What does your character want or need? What problems does this want or need cause? What is stopping the character from getting what they want or need?

If you have a particular writing question, feel free to ask it in the comments section of this post

Happy writing:)

Dee

Our new competition opens tomorrow August 1. Good luck:)

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MEET AMRA PAJALIC – Featured Author

Amra graffiti

Talented writer, Amra Pajalic is today’s featured author at Writing Classes for Kids.

Amra’s debut novel The Good Daughter was published by Text Publishing. It won the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Civic Choice Award, and was a finalist in the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature Best Writing Award and was shortlisted in the 2007 Victorian Premier’s Awards for Best Unpublished Manuscript.

Amra’s short stories have placed in competitions, been published in magazines, journals and anthologies.

Amra is also co-author of What a Muslim Woman Looks Like.

Today, Amra talks about how she uses her own personal experiences to inspire her writing. - and she has a fun writing activity to share.

HOW AMRA BECAME A WRITER

As a high school student I was always reading, but there seemed to be no books that represented my story about growing up. I’m talking about coming from the Western suburbs of Melbourne. About being from a migrant background and the family expectations placed on you to be a good wog girl, while at heart being Aussie and wanting to break out of this mould.

So I wrote The Good Daughter for myself and for teenagers like me so they have something to read that speaks to their experiences and that will inspire them to fight for their ‘outlandish’ dreams.

WHY AMRA WROTE THE GOOD DAUGHTER

When I started writing The Good Daughter I looked to my life for inspiration. Like my protagonist Sabiha I too am of Bosnian-Muslim background, have a mother who suffers from Bi-Polar and was brought up in the Western suburbs.

While The Good Daughter has a lot of me in it, I created a fictional character and gave her a lot of my experiences and it is wonderfully cathartic. Sometimes I can’t remember which stories are real, and which are fiction.

A FUN WRITING ACTIVITY BASED ON THE GOOD DAUGHTER

In this writing activity, Amra will take you through the process of writing a story from start to finish.

 CREATE A CHARACTER

Every character has things about them that are internal (the way they feel) and external (the way they are). Here are some things to include when you are creating your main character.

External:

1. Who is your main character?

Name:

Age:

2. What does your character look like? Describe their appearance? What are their unique features? Try to include more senses than just the visual–how the person sounds, smells, the texture of their hair and skin.

3. What does their voice sound like? Do they have a speech mannerism? Is there something they repeat?

4. How does your character walk? What does their walk say about them? Do they have special gestures/mannerisms

Internal:

1. Next, write a little about what you can’t see about the person from the outside. What is their secret fear? What is their pet peeve? What do they love eating? Do they have a pet?

2. What is your character’s defining quality, that is, how would anyone describe your protagonist? What trait is the most prominent in her personality? What kind of a person are they?

3. How would you show this quality? Write a paragraph or plot how you would show this quality in your short story.

4. What is a secret they don’t share? Write a scene about the moment when this secret was formed?

 

CREATE A PROBLEM FOR YOUR CHARACTER

1.    What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you as a teenager?

2.    Give your embarrassing moment to that character?

 

CREATE A PLOT

What would make the situation worse?What does the character do to try and solve the situation, but it doesn’t work?

What would make it even worse than that?

 

CREATE AN ENDING

Now think of three endings:

1. The disney ending where everything is perfect,

2. The tragic ending where everything is melodramatic and soap operish.

3. The realistic ending.

Which ending do you choose?

 

WIN A COPY OF THE GOOD DAUGHTER

Thanks Amra for sharing your journey and for this great writing activity. You could win a copy of Amra’s amazing book in our current writing competition.

You can find out more about Amra here

 

 

 

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