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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Back to school with ALAN DURANT

My son was lucky enough to be selected for a Literary Day at another primary school hosted by alan Durant.  Other local schools were represented by a range of pupils (there were 30 children in total).  I was asked to go along as a responsible adult since I am an author... love it!  I took lots of notes...

Alan asked the following questions, and got an impressive show of hands in response:
  • What inspires you?
  • Where do you write?
  • Do you read?
  • Do you want to be a writer?
  • Is there a special place that motivates you to write?  Find your space...don't stifle your creativity.
Books kids had read included Famous Five, Narnia Series, Poetry - impressive!

Alan wrote a lot of his work in his Shed... he read out his poem.  He has a captivating voice.  The poem, read from memory, was excellent.

Alan recommends that you imagine you are in your favourite place when you are writing.

TO BE A WRITER... YOU HAVE TO LOVE WORDS...YOU SHOULD WANT TO MARRY WORDS (a bit extreme...lol - all the children giggled at this)

Kids favourite words:  cheek, ink, articulate, ginornous, write, discombubulated, Chimbercoli (place in India)

A word can have many meanings... it's the fantastic thing about language.

For example, if you think of exciting things like exotic fruit...

Using the expression "you are what you eat."

FRUIT FANTASY - alan used fruit to create a poem...

Alan then explained that his books included picture books.  At this point I felt compelled to ask a question, I was just as keen as the children.  I wondered how the illustrations came about.  The answer surprised me to an extent.  Apparently, this is where the publisher comes in, and in Alan's case he does not tend to interfere.  He is shown the illustrations and can have a say but he tends to let them use their expertise.


Self expression - How do you tell a story?

You have to be interested in the theme.  If you can also draw from a real experience, it keeps the writer engaged.  It as a writer you do not find it interesting, then frankly no-one else will (a very valid point).

"If you have not smelt it, you can't know about it."

In order to write about Gameboys, Alan bought one and played with it.  He then wrote three books based on the experience... they looked like a fun read for children aged betweem 6-8 years old.

I agree that in Alan's case this statement makes sense, however for fantasy and paranormal books the writer can not have smelt or known with certainty about characters that don't really exist.  So, personally this statement only stands true for stories based on 'real' things.

"Sometimes you like to use the same character.  eventually, the story runs its course and a new character emerges."

How do you name a book?

"Wait until the end...sometimes it changes."

I agree with this statement, all of my books have changed names as they got written.

Name for a Character?

Very important, it gives the voice of the story...(I agree)

Use a notebook

If you carry a notebook around, you can jot an idea when it comes to you... (I have to admit I scribbled an amazing story idea on the back of the notepad whilst I was listening on the day!)

Range of Authors read by the children attending:

Michael Morpurgo, Rick Riordan, Roald Dahl, JK Rowling (not the latest one, of course...), Enid Blyton, Jacqueline Wilson, Suzanne Collins, Holly Webb...

The children were then split into groups of 6... and then had to come up with a story using the Fortunately, Unfortunately concept...

For example:

Fortunately, the day was very informative.
Unfortunately, it was very stuffy in the room and I ended up getting a migraine...

Overall, the kids did a great job...

Key points noted:
There was some repetition of themes, a lot of death & coming back to life, breaking and fixing, falling...

Then Alan gave then a set of questions to answer... the kids were busy scribbling!
  1. What's your favourite colour? Why?
  2. What's your favourite place? Describe
  3. What's your favourite season? Why?
  4. What's your favourite possession? Why?
  5. What's your favourite food? Describe (as though you can see it in front of you0
  6. What's your favourite hobby? Why?
  7. What would be your dream job? Why?
  8. Describe a memorable event.
  9. Describe a dream or nightmare.
  10. What fruit or vegetable would you be?  Why?
  11. What creature eould you be?  Why?
Animals leave memories

Cats having kittens (find a place - bed, shoes, sock drawer)  A strong bond forms with an animal.  Use real experiences to create a story...

The children then had a break, and when they came back composed there own stories using three answers they had given to the questions.

I had a wonderful day, as did all the dhildren and I would like to thank Alan Durant for an excellent workshop.

I did actually buy three books for my kids that day, which Alan signed! Fantastic!

And I have to say that my youngest loves hers...

thanks for reading and please check out Alan Durants books,

All the best
Vanessa :) xx

Alan has published 80 books to date...



Vanessa :) xx

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