Forces Voices

Children’s Book Editor Gives Her Top Writing Tips

Find out how to start writing or how to finesse your craft with Kesia Lupo's top five writing tips

Editor Kesia Lupo has shared her expert advice on how to become a great writer as BFBS launches a creativity competition that both adults and children can take part in.

BFBS's 'Forces Voices’ creativity competition aims to get adults and children to share their ‘stay home’ creative masterpieces and be in with the chance of winning £500 worth of Amazon vouchers - you can enter the competition here

Kesia Lupo is supporting our BFBS 'Forces Voices' creativity competition and has kindly provided her top five writing tips for those entering the competition - or anyone else that wants to get their literacy juices flowing.

Tip One: Write A Little Every Day 

This one’s a classic! Back in the Beforetimes, I’d take my laptop to a cafe first thing in the morning before work and carve out an hour for myself, and my writing, over a coffee.

Alongside a few weekends and days off, I wrote two novels like this - 1,000 words or so at a time, day by day. 

Nowadays, I’m writing a lot less - it’s hard to find the mental space for anything creative when you’re trapped in your house, isn’t it?

But I’d recommend you find an area and a time where you can write - even if it’s a corner of your living room for fifteen minutes first thing in the morning - and Just Do It, once a day, every day. Trust me, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve, one step at a time.

Tip Two: Have A Rough Plan 

Whether you’re writing a novel, a novella, or a short story, the advice stands:

Have a rough idea of where you’re going, even if you don’t know quite how you’re going to get there.

Some authors like to plan everything - on spreadsheets or post it notes, or in huge sprawling synopses. But I’m not like that, I don’t like to feel too constrained.

I’m a fan of having a simple one-page overview in a notebook that I can keep referring to when I feel lost. Often the key is motivation - what does your main character want?

What stands against them? What does your villain want? The story follows from there.

Tip Three: Don’t Beat Yourself Up About It

Writing is tough. Sometimes you write your words for the day and know that you’re going to delete every single one of them at the first opportunity. But remember why you’re doing this.

Writing is meant to be fun - it’s an escape, not a chore.

Sure, one day it could lead to publication - or not. It’s very rare that any writer gets their first piece of work published. I wrote two novels before I got a publishing deal.

The main thing is that you write something that you’re proud of - and to remember you have to edit if you want to get there.

First drafts ALWAYS suck!

Tip Four: Take Advantage Of The Writing Community 

If you have writing buddies already, brilliant!

Sharing and exchanging work is a great motivator - you’re way more likely to finish a project if you know there’s someone waiting to read it.

Feedback is crucial as you finish your first draft and start to think about editing your story - and remember, by reading and offering feedback on others’ work, you’re also learning about what works and what doesn’t.

Reading makes you a better writer. 

If you don’t have writer friends already, never fear.

There’s a huge writing community out there and, though you may not be able to join your local writing group until social distancing restrictions end, there are plenty of opportunities online.

Scope out Twitter and find your tribe - or follow your favourite authors on Instagram to discover what they’re up to. Authors love to share inspiration, tips and recommendations.

Litopia and Write Mentor both spring to mind as offering great (and largely cheap/free) online opportunities to connect with other authors - but there are tonnes of others out there. 

Tip Five: Write What You Love 

Often I see writers attempting to follow or predict publishing trends - they’ll write something because they think it’s what people want to read.

Don’t do that!

You can never predict the market - tastes change so quickly and besides, it takes ages for a book to get published.

What’s certain is that you’ll write best if you’re writing about something you’re passionate about. If you love reading fantasy, chances are you’ll love writing it. If you’re a murder mystery fanatic, why not try incorporating this into your story?

Equally, if you’re mad about a particular place, era, or vibe … Chances are you’ll love writing it - and if you love writing it, readers will pick up on that too.

About Kesia Lupo

Kesia was born in Essex, spent her childhood in Germany and her teenage years in Bath.

She studied History at Oxford University and Creative Writing at Bath Spa. She lives in Bristol with her husband and works as a children's book editor for Chicken House, where she acquires and edits brilliant books for readers aged seven and up. 

She’s also the author of We Are Blood and Thunder, a YA fantasy adventure published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books in 2019. Her second novel, We Are Bound By Stars, will be published in the UK in summer 2020.

To enter BFBS's Forces Voices competition and read the Ts&Cs please click here