I was delighted to attend the Get Writing Conference at the weekend as a delegate/author. Organised by Veralum Writers, the conference has grown each year and now attracts some amazing speakers and workshop leaders. I attended two workshops: comedy sketch writing with Mark Keegan and writing historical fiction with Emma Darwin. Both were hugely helpful and I now feel fired up to have a go at both disciplines while their excellent advice is still ringing in my ears. The great thing about writing children’s fiction is that you can encompass so many genres and styles. So watch out for a historical crime comedy thriller picture book in the distant future!
Here’s some pointers I picked up during the day (which also included talks and panels) that I hope will be useful to you too.
- Some people read a book a day, and two at the weekend (lizlovesbooks.com).
- Psychic distance is a thing and it’s rather useful (thisitchofwriting.com).
- Writers love cake. Not a tip, but it helps to know you are not alone.
- Successful comedy sketches are often about subverting the balance of power between the characters.
- You don’t have to be a ‘plotster’ (planning) or a ‘pantser’ (not planning) – there is a middle way. You need to choose the route that works for you.
- The British love a bit of wordplay, ambiguity and, of course, innuendo.
- Research before or after writing, not during (unless it’s crucial).
- BBC Writers Room is an oft-recommended resource and for good reason.
- Don’t blog unless you enjoy it. But if you do, it can help open doors.
- Use Google Scholar to search for academic articles about your chosen subject.
- Notice what your character notices – look through their eyes, not your own.
- Comedy can have dark undertones.
- Don’t sweat about the synopsis. Shock horror – half the time agents don’t even read them! Even if they do, it can be just a quick glance to make sure you’ve got the story in hand. Your letter and sample chapters are much more important.
- Use escalation to take your comedy sketch from mundane to ridiculous (in a good way).
- Watch Andrew Stanton’s Ted talk – The Clues to a Great Story.
- Go to writing conferences. Attend workshops. Keep on learning. Keep on writing.
PS – I will be randomly selecting the winner of the signed copy of The Snugglewump on Friday. If you haven’t entered, just comment on my previous post to be in with a chance!