authors, teachers' resources

Tips for young writers from Sheryl Gwyther

"Princess Clown cover"Sheryl Gwyther visited us last month as part of the celebrations for the launch of our Undercover Readers Club. She’s back today to talk a bit about how she got the idea for her latest book, Princess Clown. Welcome back, Sheryl!

What gave you the idea for writing Princess Clown?

Princess Clown began with a challenge – to write a chapter book using words that clashed. I chose CLOWN and PRINCESS.

(Musicians have used this same process to choose intriguing, unusual names for their bands. That’s why we have rock bands with names like Led Zeppelin, Guns ‘N Roses, Green Day, Pearl Day and Stone Roses.)

Once I had chosen the words Clown and Princess I asked myself, What if?

What if there was a princess who was different? What if she loved clowning and making people laugh? What if she was the heir to the throne? What if she was in trouble because she can’t stop clowning around? What if her tricks go terribly wrong?

Then before I could say, ABRACADABRA and ALLIBALOO, out sprang Princess Belle and a story was born.

Are you good at any circus skills yourself? Juggling, unicycle riding, back flips, squirting unsuspecting people with your joke flower/buzzing them with a handshake?

I prefer my bike with two wheels so I don’t fall off. I can’t do black flips or somersaults and neither do I have a zingy clown ring like Princess Belle, but I do have a set of three professional juggling balls – a perfect size and weight for my hand.

I’m trying to learn to juggle. So far, I’ve worked up to three throws and a catch, but it’s been difficult to throw that fourth throw. My brain does not like it at all! But I’ll never give up trying – one day I will get there.

Want to try juggling? Then start with some good juggling balls. Here’s a recipe on how to make your own super-cool juggling balls out of balloons and uncooked rice.

How do you get inspiration and ideas for your writing?

I get ideas for writing stories from lots of places. Some start with daydreaming, or childhood memories, some from intriguing things I’ve read or heard about, some from combinations of words, a couple even came from dreams. Once I get the idea, I always ask, What if? And that is when the story really begins to form in my imagination.

I like to write a rough outline while the idea is fresh in my brain. Then it’s a good idea to brainstorm – that fills out the characters’ development and also the plot.

While I’m writing the first draft, I play some background music on the CD player. When writing an adventurous part of my stories, I like the soundtrack from The Lord of The Rings – helps to keep the fast pace going. You might find that works for you too.

Check out this link from my blog: Music to Write by? It’s all about what other authors listen to when they write.

Do you have any advice for young writers?

"Sheryl Gwyther photo"
Sheryl Gwyther, author of Princess Clown

The best advice I can give to new writers of any age is:

  • READ READ READ lots of good books!
  • Write every day, even if it’s only a few sentences.
  • Connect up with other young writers – they’ll be a good support.
  • The most important thing of all, NEVER GIVE UP just because you think it is too hard.

PRINCESS CLOWN is available from Blake Publishers.

Sheryl Gwyther is taking Princess Clown on a blog tour. Where is she going?

06 July Tuesday Dee White Tips on writing chapter books

07 July Wednesday Soup Blog [You’re here!] Where do you get your ideas?

08 July Thursday Robyn Opie Guest blog

09 July Friday Catriona Hoy Author interview

10 July Saturday Kat Apel Win a copy of Princess Clown and get your name in Sheryl’s next book!

11 July Sunday Sheryl Gwyther 4 kids About launching a book

12 July Monday Sandy Fussell Guest blog

13 July Tuesday Sally Murphy Interview: The author’s life

14 July Wednesday Claire Saxby Are you a clown or a princess?

15 July Thursday Mabel Kaplan Workshopping with children

4 thoughts on “Tips for young writers from Sheryl Gwyther”

  1. Music to create the mood while you write. That’s interesting. I don’t know that I could do it – but I like that you do! (If I am writing I kill the music – without even realising it, sometimes. Just later notice that the music isn’t playing…)

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