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Wicked Young Writer Awards: Five top tips from Dan Freedman

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First News is working with the Wicked Young Writer Awards to help inspire young people to get writing! The acclaimed award seeks songs, poems, stories, and scripts to encourage young people to use writing to view the world a little differently.

Each year, a special prize giving event is held at the Apollo Victoria Theatre for all 120 finalists. The event is attended by judges and the Wicked cast, and includes special performances, workshops and readings of the winning entries. All finalists also receive a copy of the Wicked Young Writer Awards Anthology.

To help you get started with your entry to the awards, check out these five fantastic tips from Dan Freedman, best selling author of the Jamie Johnson series:

  1. Use experiences that have happened in your own life. For example, I went to visit a school in East London on the day that they had a Pupils v Teachers football match in the school playground. It was the best atmosphere I’ve ever seen in my life. A couple of years later I wrote a whole book – Skills From Brazil ­- in which, you’ve guessed it, the story revolves around a Pupils v Teachers football match! When you write about what you know, you can be so much more confident.
  2. Understand the little details about the characters in your story. What’s their favourite food? What’s their biggest secret? What’s their biggest fear? What are they most embarrassed or proud of? When we know the character in such depth, they can take over and almost write the story for us. In this way, as writers, we don’t think to ourselves: what shall I write next? Instead we think: well, what would she do next? Or what would he say about that?
  3. Don’t think you have to write the perfect story first time around. None of us do. In fact, none of us can. That’s why the editing process is so important. But it’s hard. You have to look at what you’ve done and ask yourself as honestly as possible: is that truly the best that I can do? If, deep down, there is something bugging you or something that could be done better, that’s your cue to know where to start changing things.
  4. Always have a plan. You wouldn’t start trying to build a house without having done some designs first. It’s the same with stories; give yourself a map of where you want your story to go. In fact, in my head, the first part of the story that comes to me is often the ending. Once I have that in my head – once I know the destination I want to arrive at – then I can start formulating how I want to get there. But, beware: don’t stick to your plan if it doesn’t work. If you get half-way through your story and you realise that something is wrong, address it, change it, make it right. Don’t just carry on towards a brick wall because that was the way you had planned it.
  5. Entertain yourself. First and foremost you are your own most important reader so write the story that you would want to read. Writing can be a long, painstaking and solitary process. If you’re writing something just because you think it’s what others will want to read but it’s not really what you’re interested in, you’ll get found out in the end. It has to come from the heart, it has to come from something that you’re interested in, that inspires you, confuses you, entertains you or angers you…It doesn’t matter what the feeling is, just that you feel something about the story that you’re writing. It has to come from your feeling because then what you write will reveal something about you and your honest view of the world …and that’s when other people start to get interested.