Sunday, 11 May 2014

What We've Learned Along The Way - Group Post Part One

Back in the mists of time we were all unpublished authors. Some of us had a background in publishing before we gained the 'label' of author, some of us did not. However one thing we all share is that we have all learned something along the way. In this post some of our team share one of the things we learned.  

Play. Sometimes we get caught up in the business side of writing: we write 'for the market' or because a publisher has asked us to write a particular story they have a slot for. But the best stories often come from simply playing with an idea just for the idea itself. You can work it and rework it; change theme or character or word length and it becomes something very different. If I get stuck I often draw - it helps me keep the story light and fun and reminds me to keep playing.

Jane Clarke
You can take a very simple, ordinary idea that develops out of something that happens to you or your family and and twist it so it becomes something special. Gilbert the Hero, illustrated by Charles Fuge, is based on how my older son reacted to the arrival of his baby brother.

Enjoy playing with words. When writing a picture book try exploring rhyme, rhythm or repetition. Using any or all can change a good story into one that captures the imagination and is a joy to read.   

Develop a strange personality that is part-arrogant, part-modest.  You need the arrogance to believe in your best ideas, even when others, including publishers, don't.  You need persistence to keep trying, working out how you might make those vital publishing minds see your vision in the same way that you do.  But you also need the modesty to recognise when your ideas are not strong enough to compete with all those wonderful pictures books already published, or simply don't suit the format or the market ... at which point the arrogant side kicks in again, and you see if you can use that precious idea in some other way that WILL excite publishers and book buyers!  So, for example, the wonderful large full colour picture book story of Dick Whittington that I loved ... became a much smaller and simpler little book that is published as in OUP reading book.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about our experiences. We've enjoyed sharing.

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