Writer and Artist Tips

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Hints and Tips from…

Author: Paul Bright
  • It took me a long time to find out what sort of writing I was best at. I tried long stories, short stories, funny stories and adventure stories. Some things were easier to write than others. I found that what I did best were poems and picture books, but I’m still trying to write other types of story as well. So try all sorts of writing, and eventually you will discover what you like doing best.
  • Read as much as you can. When you find a story or author you really like, there is nothing wrong in trying to write in the same sort of way. That’s not cheating or copying, it’s practising your writing.
  • Writers often try to grab your attention with an exciting beginning to a story that makes you really want to turn to the next page. Look at the first sentences of a story and the first page to see how they do this. You can do this with an adventure story but also with a funny picture book. Here’s the beginning of my story Under the Bed:
    Under the bed there’s a smelly shoe,
    A piece of jigsaw, green and blue,
    Some purple pants, an apple core,
    But under the bed, there’s something more!

    Does that make you want to stop reading? Or do you want to find out what the ‘something more’ is?

  • If you’re trying to write something funny, read it through and see if it makes you laugh (maybe not out loud, just inside). If you think it’s funny, your readers should think it’s funny as well.
  • It’s easiest to write about things you know – your cat or your school or where you live or something funny (or maybe scary) that has happened to you.
  • Don’t feel you have to write something good straight away. All writers go back and make changes, over and over and over again, until they feel happy with personal letter writing services.
  • Read and read and write and write and practise and practise. You’ll get better and better!

Author: Tracey Corderoy
  • I think the most important thing is to write because you want to. Have fun with your writing. Don’t be scared by it. Allow your imagination to run wild!
  • You are in control of your story but if you allow it to, it may take you down exciting paths you never knew were there. Don’t be afraid to change your ideas as your story develops. Sometimes your characters will surprise you!
  • Carry a notebook and pencil everywhere. Very often the best ideas come when you least expect them. So jot them down when they come to you. Quite often my best ideas come when I’m hoovering the carpet. Very odd, I know, but true!
  • Allow yourself time to think and story ideas will often come to you. Be an observer, be nosy! Watch people and listen to them. Sometimes a story can result just from a phrase you’ve overheard. Imagine people in funny, unusual or silly situations. Make up little stories about them in your head.
  • Collect things – all kinds of things! Things that catch your eye. They may be funny things, they may be beautiful things, they may be objects of mystery. You may not even know what they are! Things that grab your attention – objects or interesting words or phrases – quite often will make a great starting point for a story.
  • Get to know your characters. Really, really know them. Know what makes them laugh. Know what makes them cry. Know their secrets, know their dreams. The more you know them, the more you’ll care. This will mean that others will care too…
  • Don’t worry too much about grammar or punctuation when you start writing your story. Just pour out your thoughts. You can concentrate on spelling and punctuation later.
  • When you’re writing, don’t be scared to change things or even to start again. It’s sometimes like playing an instrument. Before you can play a piece beautifully, it may need lots of practice. The more you write and rewrite, the better a writer you will become.
  • If you get stuck when you’re writing, sometimes just leave it for a while. Go and do something else. Something completely different. Quite often, when you’re more relaxed, you’ll figure out what feels right and what you have to do.
  • Finally, be brave. Share your stories with others. Allow others to read it because they may spot something you’ve left out or may give you an idea you hadn’t thought of. Listen to advice but never give up!
  • Write because you love it, because you have a story to tell and because nobody has a story quite like yours…

Author and illustrator: Liz Pichon

Writing Tips

When you’re thinking of a story to go with the illustration, a good way to begin is by asking yourself some questions about the picture, then writing them down. For instance:

  • Where are the characters?
  • How did they get there?
  • What do the characters look like?
  • How did they meet?
  • Are there any objects in the drawing that you can use in the story?
  • What are they doing?
  • What situation are they in?
  • What do you think is, or could be happening?
  • What are the characters’ personalities and what kind of person/animal are they?

This process can sometimes spark off an idea for a story.

I like to have a rough idea of how the story will end, especially for picture books as they have to have a nice satisfying ending (I find this the hardest part!).

One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was from a play writer called Alan Bleasdale, who said when he is writing his stories, he likes to take ordinary people and put them in extraordinary circumstances to see what happens.

Just use your imagination and have some fun!

Illustrating Tips

  • You have to read the story really carefully.
  • Pick out anything the author has described that might help you visualise your illustration, then begin to draw the characters and the settings where the story takes place.
  • I also do character sketches separately, to help get to know exactly what they look like and what they’re wearing etc.
  • Great illustration can also add a lot of extra information and humour to the story. I like to think of ways of adding extra information to the pictures that isn’t necessarily in the text.
  • Remember the characters’ expressions and how they are relating to each other or their surroundings.
  • Think about the font used for the text and how the words are positioned on the page with the illustration. By placing it in certain ways it can add a lot to the story. I often choose a font that I think goes with the illustrations as a starting point.
  • Have a look at some of your favourite picture books to see how the design of the text has helped to tell the story.
  • Most importantly – use your imagination and have fun with the drawings!

Illustrator: Tina Macnaughton

Writing Tips

When you’re thinking of a story to go with the illustration, a good way to begin is by asking yourself some questions about the picture, then writing them down. For instance:

  • An illustrator needs to be very good at drawing and painting. They have to have a good eye for colour so they know how to mix their paint colours properly. Plus they need to have a very good imagination.
  • Practise drawing and painting as much as you can. Draw your pets, your friends, your house, landscapes or anything fun and silly that pops into your head.
  • Like learning anything it takes a long time to get really good at illustration. Most artists would say they are still learning!
  • A good illustrator loves what they do and they love art of all types. If you don’t love it you will never have the desire to pick up a pencil and practise.
  • Illustrating picture books is about telling a story by drawing characters and pictures that take you to a world where your imagination is set free. In this world of make-believe anything can happen – animals may talk, there might be spaceships or even a mythical creature might appear.
  • You can choose how your characters look and behave. Everything you put in your picture tells us something about your character, like how big he is or where he is or what he is doing.
  • Even the colours you use can tell us something. Bright colours make a picture look happy but a dark picture makes it look like it’s at night.
  • It’s fun to draw your ideas and entertain your friends and family with stories and characters you have invented. They could be silly or scary or pretty – the choice is up to you – but most of all they should be characters you want to see ‘come alive’ on paper!

Activity Sheets

These fun activity sheets are designed to encourage and motivate children to take ever-bigger steps into reading, drawing and writing.

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    The Little Tiger Press Young Writer and Illustrator Awards are designed to encourage reading and creativity in children from an early age. It is an annual competition aimed at schools, charities and organisations in the UK.

    It aims to promote a life-long love of books and to give children a sense of enjoyment and confidence in reading, writing and illustrating.
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