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Beat Writers Block

Writer’s Block strikes all of us at some time or other so maybe Writers’ Block is a more accurate description?

Here are some ways you might beat the block!

alan dapre,writers block,lightbulb,solve.Open a drawer and pull out a random object and write about that in a style of your choosing. Breathless Mills & Boon prose about a stapler anyone?

Write a list of things you dislike about your main character. Then generate some positives to add balance.

Get away from the typewriter and use a pencil and some sticky note pads. Stick ideas into a small notebook. You can always remove the rubbish ones into the rubbish bin  the next day.

Sniff the way forward by imagining what the location of your story smells like. Throw in unusual scents to generate a sense of place.

Give characters and places a potted history – no more than a paragraph written on the fly.

Ask a question – ‘Why?’ and try to think of a situation that gives you an answer.

Write a verb and get the computer synonym maker to chuck new words out at you – a different or unfamiliar word may get the character talking or acting in a different style.

Turn on the TV and grab a headline (one that is positive) and think about your characters and how they would react to it.

Write a note for your character – the sort you’d find left on a fridge.

Revisit first lines from books in your house – and play with them.

Time yourself and try to write 200 words in 10 minutes – anything.

Think about what your character most needs at the moment. Then try to get it down, jousting its needs with other key characters.

Flip the issue over if it’s a problem that’s stumping you, e.g., if a character is too dull then try to make them too interesting  – by going Over The Top!

Nick ideas from friends & family either by telling them you’re stuck, or by eavesdropping on their conversations. Amazing what you can pick up and play with – just don’t use real names when it comes to publication.

Use rhyme – forcing yourself to think of simple rhythmic sentences. Often, a narrative will come.

The idea here is to just get something down … to clear the blockage. If one thing doesn’t work, try another. And if that does not work then, er, do a blog … Works for me!

Think up dramatic, funny, quirky opening lines – and really play with the scene, character or place – pushing them as far as you can. This will lead you into areas that you would not normally go. If you struggle with this then play with the last line. Apparently J.K. Rowling had the last line of her last book ready before she finished the first book. I tend to think about how the action might wind up and conclude – so writing a final line seems to make things more concrete. It always helps me to know where I’m heading narratively.

Wander around the house picking up props – which can easily become prompts for new ideas. Maybe you’ve a figurine from Africa that sparks off a story set there … ?

Get in the car, or put on your boots, and take a journey – heading for an unfamiliar place, object, house – whatever – as long as you examine your feelings when you arrive there. Being in a fresh environment can conjure up vivid new ideas and thoughts that you can mull over on the way back.

Start with the word ‘I’ … and add an action to it – such as ‘jump’ – and then see where it leads – off a cliff – down a hole – who cares as long as you’re writing …

Begin with ‘What If …’ and say aloud something outlandish or mundane. Let the ideas follow on from each other. Maybe it’ll help to dictate to your computer, or chat to the dog? Just getting words out and hearing them gives you ideas a reality that might spur you on imaginatively.

These are just a few writing tips that have worked for me. Hopefully the few minutes spent reading them has got your brain juices flowing … I will add more the next time I’m hit by a wall of my Writer’s blocks.

Alan Dapré is a published children’s author living near Glasgow in Scotland. His latest series is Porridge The Tartan Cat. Packed with hilarious twists and fun wordplay, all with a cat’s-eye view of a zany Scottish family. 

Writing For Children: practical tips by author Alan Dapre

After 60+ books I’ve gathered a few tips on writing for children:

1) Always read the genre you are aiming at and immerse yourself in the relevant books.

I have written plays for teenagers and younger children, general story and picture books, plus joke, puzzle, activity and story books for TV tie-in characters such as Brum.

I used to think that my writing might be diluted by reading other writers. The opposite is true. I was able to pull their words and structures apart, agree (or disagree) with what I read, and get a sense of how each format worked. What I discovered somehow filtered into my own writing.

2) Grow up surrounded by books.

This riffs on my first point. Obviously you can’t go back in time and surround yourself with books but it helps if you have had a childhood love of reading. Fiction, non-fiction, who cares. Just getting words into you is a positive and life-affirming benefit.

3) Study the ways children (your readers) think and interact.

Watch, listen and learn. Resist the urge to step in – any interaction from you will affect the dynamic. Become aware of the rhythms and patterns that youngsters adopt. It will make your own writing sound more natural.

Children tend to say only what they need to say. They often repeat phrases and rework their sentences as they speak – so go with their flow. It’ll make you a better writer.

4) Love your work.

There is no point writing something and getting all worked up about it before the ink is dry. I tend to write my stories in big chunks then go back and edit. This approach works, but only if I know the plot and the characters well enough. If I am too uncertain then it shows in my writing. Better to write a chapter and edit afterwards than write a paragraph and edit that.

Rash editing can simply be masking your lack of preparation or understanding of the story or characters. If you believe your work is rubbish it will be. So pull out what works. Look for the strengths. Print it off, go for a walk, come back and read it at arm’s length. If you think it is going nowhere then stop…and start writing something else.

5) Buy a load of sticky notes.

When I have a story idea I draw the main story arc. It gets me to explore actions and characters and motivations without too much fussing over the plot. I can see the way – or the roadblocks -ahead.

I concentrate on ACTIONS. If characters are not doing something then they should not be in your story. Stories are about DOING. Sticky notes can be easily rearranged, drawn over, replaced, etc. They are brilliant. You can do the same using virtual notes on your computer desktop or tablet screen. Trust me, it works.

6) Don’t give up.

Life for a writer is tough. For every rejection send your stuff out to three, no, ten more publishers. Who knows why someone gets lucky and is published? It could be that they have written the best kids’ book EVER. Maybe they simply approached the agent/publisher at the right time.

The key is to build relationships. Get known as a hardworking, imaginative writer and your reputation will help you get more work.

When you get rejections – and you will – channel your writing energy into new projects.

7) Be nice to everyone.

A) It’s a nice thing to do

B) Publishers and Editors and Agents move about, get promoted, lunch together, etc. Some may even talk about you. You want that to be in a good way.

8) Write as much as you can.

You don’t have show it to anyone – just write and see what happens.

When you write, magic happens. Doors open. People smile and the world is a better place.

You can quote me on that.

 

 

If you would to see my latest books, please click on the covers.

brawsome bagpipes, bashcrashding,alan dapre, dapre, porridge the tartan cat, tartan cat, floris

Brawsome Bagpipes & Bash-Crash-Ding by Alan Dapre

 

[If you want to use any of the above blog for non-commercial reasons then feel free to do so – but mention my full name. Link back to my blog please. Anything else? Simply click ‘Comments’ & drop me a line.]

Bad things come in threes.

1) Today I woke up with conjunctivitis. Irritating.

2) Yesterday I was diagnosed with chilblains…to match my arthritis. Thus confirming I am officially an old git.

3) The day before that the hard drive in my Mac computer became an ex-hard drive. To paraphrase Monty Python it has kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible!

So there you have it. Three bad things. Wow, this old saying is really accurate. Er…

4) Last week the washing machine broke down. Springs shattered and smashed the insides. It too has kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain etc.

5) Just after that a lump of hard core rock flew from the back of a highway maintenance lorry and bounced on my car as I was driving in the fast lane. Left a nasty dent in the bonnet and an even nastier dent in the wallet.

6) The car key snapped in the ignition. Needs to be repaired. £170, I kid you not.

7) My wife has a really bad back at the moment.

8) Daughter has a cold.

9) This damn ipad turns the numeral eight into a smily face.

10) Dog now has arthritis too.

11) It snowed so much the builders could not work on our house for three days.

12) A recent storm caused two big leaks…the Nationwide Building Society sent an assessor in high heels who would not climb a ladder to check the roof or even climb up into our loft because of Health and Safety regs. She said to get a roofer out (at our cost) and she would study his report with a trained eye to see if it was wind damage or poor workmanship. Judging from a bit of paper rather than going up and seeing for herself. Bonkers.

13) Oh I can’t be bowhere’d writing anymore because this ipad is correcting everything I say with women kind of devilishly inaccurate autocorrect software that I have to go back ancharacter every two minutes…see what I mean? Unreadable.

Okay then. Bad news indeed comes in threes…or fours, fives, sixes, hundreds, thousands, all eternity… You name it.

Bad news actually, and very obviously, comes from the point you want to start remembering it. I could go on but the bad news is in have to go to the Mother In Law’s house today…and she can’t walk after knee surgery. Bless.

Have a good day, y’all.

‘Cuddle Muddle’ is free now on Amazon – 16th & 17 jan 2013

Hi,

If you like quality children’s picture ebooks – especially free ones – I’d like to say that ‘Cuddle Muddle’ is Free on Weds 16 & Thurs 17 January 2013. It can be read on all KindleFires, plus should be downloadable for Kindle For iPad & Kindle For Android as well as Paperwhite.

Cuddle Muddle is a colourful fixed layout story with added text magnification boxes to make reading easier for preschool readers. It is the first book in my Wee Panda Bear Series.

Cuddle Muddle has a simple but engagingly funny plot – ‘Wee Panda Bear tumbles out of bed and needs a Big Bear cuddle, but without her wee black glasses she gets in a cuddle muddle! She hugs a hippo then cuddles a croc – and until sleepy Wee Bear cuddles Big Bear she just won’t stop!’ 

I’ve illustrated the story as well as written it – and hope it’s something you’ll enjoy. Feel free to download and have a free read.

Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (UK link)

Cuddle Muddle‘ – available on kindle  (US link)

Cuddle Muddle by Alan Dapre
Cuddle Muddle Page 1 by Alan Dapré
Page 1 of Cuddle Muddle by Alan Dapre
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Page 2 of Cuddle Muddle by Alan Dapre

 

 

 

 

 

Simultaneous Discovery, Coincidence or just Bad Luck?

Being a published freelance author here at alandapre.com and beyond I have to be alert to trends and what is going around. Or do I?

Thinking back I realise that I have actually had quite a few ideas similar to stuff that has appeared on TV or in books and – rather annoyingly – someone else has got there first. Year back I drafted a grandiose screenplay for the life of Van Gogh, basing it on his letters only to see a film come out (of nowhere) which rendered the idea dead in the water. I know that sometimes 3 Robin Hoods come along at once but there’s only so much Van Gogh one can take. Currently I am looking at the TV output on CBeebies and seeing progs that share a theme or character type that I have been developing. Baby Jake is one such show – the idea of a family of older brothers and sisters (with names in alphabetical order) and an adventurous youngster has long been with me. Pity then I didn’t get the character out in the right format – but it’s been one I have wrestled with for ages so I put him to bed. Or, more accurately, in a bottom drawer.

Still, I am not unduely worried. There is something fascinating and comforting that I am still having ideas that have merit (even though others do them first) for it means I’m not on the creative scrapheap. Besides, there are only 36 plots (or 7 or any number you can think of) so there must be a lot of recycling. A friend of mine believes there is an ideas cloud of creativity that we all tap into and so similar themes and ideas are generated at the same time. You just have to get them quicker than others or not worry about it. At the moment I am happily pursuing a story idea and am writing it damn quick before that cloud dribbles my moneyspinning bestseller into someone else’s earhole.

Okay – enough about coincidences, bad timing, simultaneous discovery – but remember you heard/read about it here first!