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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

Find writing tips and exercises from our Arvon tutors here, to develop your craft and inspire your imagination. Each writing tip comes with a related writing exercise, and a new tip and exercise are added every fortnight.

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Writing Exercises

Taking a character for a walk

Genre: Fiction & Writing for Children & YA

Begin by inventing ten or twelve separate characters, all different from each other. For each one, choose five adjectives that will bring that character back into your mind. For example: Vagrant, stubborn, anti-social, dirty and claustrophobic Elegant, self-c...

Gillian Cross

Writing Tips

Seeing the world through different eyes

Genre: Fiction & Writing for Children & YA

When I was young, I read pretty much all the time. Most of what I read was fiction and I was a fast and careless reader. I always skipped long descriptions, especially when it was places that were being described, because I saw passages like that as tedious bi...

Gillian Cross

Writing Tips

Freedom in Fabrication

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Film & TV, Poetry, Radio, Science Fiction, Short Story, Speculative, Theatre & Writing for Children & YA

The Japanese writer Tanizaki complained that he could not read his contemporaries. Every time he picked up a novel and read the first page he thought, ‘But this is just about him!’ (It usually was a him). This is an interesting complaint, particula...

Andrew Miller

Writing Exercises

Exploring different third person points of view

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story, Theatre & Writing for Children & YA

Write part of a story in the form of a scene from a play, beginning with a description of the setting and then using dialogue and stage directions to show what happens and how the characters feel about it. Make sure you have at least three characters and bring...

Gillian Cross

Writing Tips

Subjective third person narrative

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story & Writing for Children & YA

When I was a child, like most young readers I wanted to identify with the characters in books. I didn’t have the life experience, or the inclination, to keep my distance and think in a detached way about David Balfour, in Kidnapped, or Mary Lennox, in The Se...

Gillian Cross

Writing Tips

Don’t talk down to younger readers

Genre: Fiction, Writing for Children & YA

Don’t think that all children want to hear about is fluffy bunnies, naughty elves and lessons to be learned. Some do, of course, depending on their age, but what matters most is giving them a story they can believe in. And in order to do that, you need to re...

Steve Voake

Writing Exercises

Developing a character

Genre: Fiction, Writing for Children & YA

Imagine that there is a young character in your mind, waiting to step forward and tell you their story. You might have an idea of their age, whether they are male or female, perhaps some sense of what they look like. The following series of questions will help...

Steve Voake

Writing Exercises

Write The Blurb For Your Novel

Genre: Fiction, Non-Fiction & Life Writing, Short Story, Theatre, Writing for Children & YA

Write the blurb for your novel – the summary that appears on the back jacket of a book -including some notion of who the central characters are and what happens in the story. You could include the date or era, the main location, character names, an indicati...

Jane Harris

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