Category: Writer’s craft

Review: Dave Rudden’s MG fantasy Knights of the Borrowed Dark

Review: Dave Rudden’s MG fantasy Knights of the Borrowed Dark

[ 0 ] July 26, 2016 |

I first heard of Dave Rudden following his intriguing think piece in the Guardian about how society raises boys, and about his own quiet suffering the face of bullying. So when I spotted KNIGHTS OF THE BORROWED DARK on NetGalley, I was extra-interested to read this middle-grade debut, which promised chosen-one adventure and power to the powerless.

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Unlocking a tough scene with a clean-slate rewrite

Unlocking a tough scene with a clean-slate rewrite

[ 0 ] June 7, 2016 |

Last week’s revisions were the hardest I’ve faced in a while on my work in progress, a middle grade novel that’s my first full-length fantasy. The scene where the very real world meets the magical just wasn’t working, but thanks to some great reading recommendations from twitter (I especially loved Anne Ursu’s BREADCRUMBS), plus some back-to-the-drawing-board scene […]

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Snapchat vlog on manuscript revisions – Week 3

Snapchat vlog on manuscript revisions – Week 3

[ 0 ] February 26, 2016 |

Latest instalment of my revision vlog! This week I’m grappling with rewrites on the first five chapters of my new book. I’m hating how hard it is to write exposition, and loving our weird-cool trip to a plague exhibition in the National Library of Scotland, with a peek at plants used for medicinal purposes.

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Plot, structure, death, death and more death

Plot, structure, death, death and more death

[ 0 ] February 21, 2016 |

I’m fixated on plot and structure at the moment – you may be, too, if you’re a writer tackling revisions on a work in progress or a NaNoWriMo draft from last year.

This year, for the first time, I’m editing a manuscript that I’ve left for a long, long rest. I wrote it more than a year ago. I’ve never let a first draft sit for so long before.

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How I got my agent and what nearly stopped me

How I got my agent and what nearly stopped me

[ 32 ] December 30, 2015 |

I’ve vacillated about whether to record this journey, as it may be the most personal thing I’ve written yet, but all things considered, I think it’s best to capture the story of how I signed with a literary agent, and the fear that almost stopped me.

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Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop means a big leap forward

Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop means a big leap forward

[ 3 ] December 9, 2015 |

Having re-discovered the astounding wonder of a full night’s sleep, I’m determined to catch a few insights from the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop I just attended in California, while they’re still fresh. But if you read no further, read this: it’s a workshop you will love if you’re serious about a career in children’s writing.

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Pitching a story is a life skill for writers

Pitching a story is a life skill for writers

[ 14 ] November 23, 2015 |

Here’s something I had no clue how to do a year ago: briefly tell someone about the story I’d written in a way that makes the listener want to read it. But last weekend I won a SCBWI pitching contest where I had to stand up live on stage and pitch my story to a panel of top literary agents, in front of a capacity auditorium. It’s been interesting getting from A to B, and I’ll try to explain a bit of that journey here.

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Your manuscript: build the world and let it go

Your manuscript: build the world and let it go

[ 5 ] July 16, 2015 |

I’m girding my loins for something many of my SCBWI friends already know well: the ordeal of submitting a finished manuscript to childrens’ literary agents. I’ve been here before, including with an early draft of the not-bad-but-could-be-more-sparkly science fiction novel I’m about to do the rounds with again. That experience last autumn was an eye-opener […]

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How to get the best from a critique

How to get the best from a critique

[ 6 ] October 1, 2014 |

Critiquing is never comfortable for a writer. Your ego and your dreams for the manuscript are on the line when you pass your work-in-progress to another person and ask for constructive feedback. But it’s a necessary evil – and, if you think about it, it’s not evil at all. Critiques are the route to making your story as clear and compelling as it can be. And that’s what you want, right?

‘Getting the best from critiques’” was the topic of our teach-in here at SCBWI Southeast Scotland on 27 September in Edinburgh. Click here to read the tips we swapped.

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Can 36 primary school children write a story together?

Can 36 primary school children write a story together?

[ 0 ] March 26, 2014 |

Our local primary school asked me to come in on World Book Day and work with nine classes, from ages 4 through 12, writing a whole-school story. Here’s what happened.

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