Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!
It’s the ninth day of Tweens Read August, and M.G. Leonard is here to share her top ten writing tips with us!
Here’s a little bit about her debut, Beetle Boy:
Series: The Battle of the Beetles #1
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
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The glorious start to a middle-grade trilogy about a brilliant boy, his loyal friends, and some amazingly intelligent beetles that brings together adventure, humor, and real science!
Darkus Cuttle’s dad mysteriously goes missing from his job as Director of Science at the Natural History Museum. Vanished without a trace! From a locked room! So Darkus moves in with his eccentric Uncle Max and next door to Humphrey and Pickering, two lunatic cousins with an enormous beetle infestation. Darkus soon discovers that the beetles are anything but ordinary. They’re an amazing, intelligent super species and they’re in danger of being exterminated. It’s up to Darkus and his friends to save the beetles. But they’re up against an even more terrifying villain–the mad scientist of fashion, haute couture villainess Lucretia Cutter. Lucretia has an alarming interest in insects and dastardly plans for the bugs. She won’t let anyone or anything stop her, including Darkus’s dad, who she has locked up in her dungeons! The beetles and kids join forces to rescue Mr. Cuttle and thwart Lucretia.
Description taken from Goodreads.
Top Ten Writing Tips
I love writing Top Tens. When Eli invited me to write a top ten, I considered telling you ten reasons to love my book Beetle Boy, but readers like to make up their own minds about what is good about a story, so I decided against it. Next, I considered writing about my top ten beetles, but I couldn’t reduce 350,000 species to a top ten. I’ve included thirty types of beetle in Beetle Boy and even then I felt bad for leaving out some super awesome ones.
Eventually, I decided to tell you my top ten writing tips, because people who love reading stories often go on to writing them. That is how I started. So here they are:
1) READ EVERYTHING
I know that sounds obvious, but you can only learn what you do and don’t like in stories by reading every book you can get your hands on. This can get expensive, so use your local library. If something is dreadful you have my permission not to finish it, but think about why it sucks.
Imagining is an important part of writing that is unique to all of us. Give yourself permission to stare out the window and imagine wild and crazy people and places.
3) EXPERIENCE DIFFERENT FORMS OF STORY
A book is not the only way to tell a story. Notice the different ways to tell a story, look at art, graphic novels, music, plays, dance, opera, films, animation and poems to see how they tell stories. Are you sure you want to write a book? Perhaps you want to write a film.
4) GET A NOTEBOOK
Scribble everything down. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It can be doodles, a line of dialogue you heard on the bus or a paragraph describing a city in the clouds. Your notebooks contain the ingredients for future stories. Mine are full of messy drawings, post-it notes, instructions, character descriptions, questions in capital letters and inspiring things other people have said. You cannot make a cake until you have all the ingredients; it’s the same with a book.
5) IGNORE OTHER PEOPLE’S ADVICE
Teachers said my handwriting, grammar, punctuation and attitude towards writing was bad through-out school. I have been beset by people helpfully advising me to give up, telling me how hard it is to write a book and how no one ever gets published. I ignored them and did it anyway. If you have stories to tell then you should go ahead and tell them.
6) TALENT IS ANOTHER WORD FOR HARD WORK
I thought you had to have a natural talent to do anything, but I have discovered that talent really means working hard. You will only have a talent for something you truly love because you will want to work hard at it. I love telling stories. I live for it. I love working hard and getting better at it. Working hard at something you love is rewarding.
7) DON’T GET IT RIGHT, GET IT WRITTEN
If you try and make each sentence perfect as you write it, you’ll never get to the end of your story. Write your story as fast as you can, without thinking about it too much. Get to the end. Then put it down and go and do something else. Come back to it later and read it, noting down all the things you need to do to make it better. It’s much easier to improve a story until it’s perfect than to write a perfect one first go.
8) READ YOUR WORDS OUT LOUD
When you read your writing out loud you notice words you have missed out, when your sentences are so long you run out of breath, when you use the same word three times in a sentence. If you are brave enough to read it to someone, then you’ll also notice if they get bored. All useful to help you improve your work.
When you are happy with something you’ve written, give it to someone you trust to be honest and ask them to read it and give you honest feedback. Be prepared to want to cry and shout at them, but don’t, instead, listen. This is what an editor at a publishing company does for an author, and we want to cry and shout, but instead we listen and see if we can address the problems they point out. This always makes the writing better.
I have learned so much from all the mistakes I made writing Beetle Boy. I’m editing my second book Beetle Queen right now. It’s much easier because I have learnt from my mistakes, but I am making a whole host of new ones. I think Beetle Queen will be an even better book than Beetle Boy, but I know I’ll always be learning.
About the Author
M.G. Leonard is Senior Digital Media Producer at the National Theatre of Great Britain, where she creates podcasts and documentaries about making theater. Beetle Boy is her debut novel and the first book in The Beetle Trilogy. She lives in Brighton, England with her family. You can visit her online at http://www.mgleonard.com. Follow her on Twitter @MGLnrd.
Thanks to M.G. for being a part of Tweens Read August and coming up with this list of tips! Be sure to add Beetle Boy to Goodreads and enter the giveaway above. The author being featured tomorrow is Monica Tesler!