Writing Tips

Writing tips in the Guardian!

Get more tips from me on the Guardian Children’s Book site!

Writing Tips


So you want to be a writer? Well, do you? Do you? Do you?

(Or do you want to be famous… and rich… and live forever… and make your mark on posterity… and move your audience to great emotions through your power of words… and hobnob with BIG names… and have your biographers create the film of YOU?)

Well you’ve just clicked on the right page! Because luckily all the above is very possible (we know it is: we’ve seen it happen to others) and as well as all that, we can write a book that will give its reader a great read.

And that’s what comes first: giving the reader a great read.

So this site is dedicated to all readers.

Dear Reader, I solemnly pledge to do everything in my power to pass on anything I’ve ever learned, in that never ending journey towards giving you the best read of your life, on this site.

Let the Best Read of Your Life Quest begin!

My first challenge in the quest was to find out what readers wanted from a book. I asked one hundred young adults between the ages of 12 – 19 this question. Below are some of their answers:

  • A special world that’s mine all mine
  • A character who will be my friend
  • A plot so exciting I don’t want to put the book down
  • I want to learn about things
  • I don’t want to be bored (aka: I’m intelligent – you know – as well as you!)
  • I want to feel bigger and better and different when I’ve finished reading it.
  • It should be meaningful.

There were a lot more answers (you try it, and you’ll see you get quite a few silly ones too), but most of them said something like the above.  So into the Cauldron of Success needs to go the following ingredients to make ‘the gruel thick and slab’!

Special worlds

Characters you like



Page turning

New learnings


Life changing things

Bigger and better and different realities


So that’s some of the ingredients for giving the reader a great read. All you need to do for now is : stir well. Check for taste. Add more of any if needed.


Coming soon: Challenge Two of:

The Best Read of Your Life Quest

Post 2:  What actually is ‘A Special World’?

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