How to be a writer 

So you want to be a writer? 

The answer is quite simple. 
Before you can become a writer and have a book published, you have to practise. 
You wouldn’t expect to play a piano in a large concert hall unless you had learned how to play it and practise for a very long time, would you? You wouldn’t expect to play football for England unless you had practised since you were six or seven? You wouldn’t expect to become a TV chef without learning how to cook and working at it for years. What I’m saying is, with every story you write, you will get better – just like a musician or a footballer or a chef. Keep trying. It takes time. 

So here are some story starters... 

Finish the stories then read them to your friends and see if they think they are interesting or exciting or funny. You can write several different stories using one beginning. Don’t be afraid to change any names you don’t like. 
It’s up to you and your imagination! 
1. In my grandmother’s house, the door at the top of the stairs was always locked. Until I was ten, I never dared to go near it. But on my tenth birthday, I suddenly became brave and I decided to look for the key. 
2. ‘If you really want something,’ said Mum, ‘one day your wish will come true.’ So Alex decided to put it to the test. 
3. Three dogs lived in Green Lane – Rufty, Tufty and Ben. They usually met every morning in the park for a walk and a chat. But one morning, Ben didn’t arrive so Rufty and Tufty went to number 1 Green Lane to find out what had happened to him. 
4. The competition was to be held on Saturday – most people at school thought I would win. No problem. But on Friday, the worst thing happened. 
5. The dragon had lived happily in the wood for years but someone was stealing his sausages. Someone was taking his favourite chocolate cake. Could it be one of the village children? Or was one of the knights from the palace? Or maybe even the Princess Peapod? He had to find out. 
6. My dad was always making machines – like a baby rocking machine or an egg boiling machine – but they never worked. His shed was full of them. But one day, when I was messing about in there, I found one that looked very interesting. I started to fiddle about with it. I added a screw here and a wheel there and then,,, You’ll never guess what happened! 
7. Long ago when London was no bigger than an ordinary town, the most terrible thing happened. A spark from a baker’s oven started a fire. A boy was sleeping in the house next door and he smelled the smoke at once. 
8. The island was small and we found that we could walk round it in less than an hour. There were trees at the far side with wonderful fruits. We were safe and we had food. That was lucky. 
9. Kaz never thought there could be such a thing as a magic stone. But when she found one in the garden and held it in her hands, there was no doubt about it. It sparkled. It fizzed. This was the most exciting day of her life and she couldn’t wait to try it out. 
10. There was a full moon when the rocket landed on the common and I saw everything. I saw the door open and I saw those strange creatures slide out. I couldn’t decide what to do. Should I stay or should I run? 

  Questions Children Often Ask 

Q When did you start writing? 
A I started when I was seven or eight. I loved making up stories and I used to make tiny books and draw pictures to illustrate the stories. 
Q What was the first story you had published? 
A It was called ‘Presents for the Baby’ and I wrote it for a children’s programme on BBC. It was later published in a book which was a collection of short stories. 
Q I you weren’t a writer what would you like to be? 
A I would like to be a journalist and travel the world reporting on events in other countries. Sometimes journalist can make us all aware of problems in different parts of the world and the way we can help to make things better. 
Q Have you always been a writer? 
A No. I used to be a teacher and, while I was a student, I worked as a waitress, a maid in a hotel and in lots of different shops. 
Q Do you like being a writer? 
A Yes, I love it! Making up stories is my favourite occupation. I also like being a writer because I get to visit lots of places when I go to talk to children. As well as the UK, I’ve been to schools and bookshops in Germany, Cyprus, Singapore and the Caribbean Islands. Last summer, I was at the Edinburgh Book Festival and I also got to visit several Scottish schools, which was great fun. 
Q How long does it take to write a book? 
A That really depends how long the book is. A short book might take only a month or so. A long book could take over a year. It also depends on whether you get stuck at any point in the story. That could hold you up until you’ve found a solution to your problem. 
Q Do you do the illustrations yourself? 
A No, never. I do like drawing but I’m not nearly good enough to be a professional illustrator. 
Q What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be a writer? 
A Read a lot and write a lot. Write about the things you know very well. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you won’t succeed. If you want to write – keep on writing. 


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