Reject Stale Language

Earlier on in the year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Children's Book Fair at the State Library of Victoria. While I was there I snuck into a talk given by a childhood hero of mine, author John Marsden (Okay, so I booked tickets and lined up with a bunch of 8 year olds. Totally worth it.). I was also able to have a chat with him afterwards and get him to sign my book. When I told him he inspired me to be a writer from a young age he apologised to me. He was so lovely and generous with his time. He's a great man.

During his talk I took notes on his writing advice. It is truly brilliant in its simplicity, and I have noticed an improvement in my own writing since I have been applying this advice to my work. The following 8 tips have really stuck with me:

- You can make language do anything you want it to. Very quickly we can use words to conjure images.

- Write honestly and accurately. There is no value if it's not your perspective.

- You need to learn the conventions of writing before you can break them.

- You should name everything. Don't say the bird flew past the window; say the cockatoo flew past the window.

- Our job is to stay poets for the rest of our lives, rejecting stale language.

- Take a boring sentence. Underline nouns and pronouns. Name them. Use language more effectively to tell the same story. Identify verbs and give them life.

- Every story is about an interruption to routine.

- The most important thing a writer can get is bum glue (a quote from Bryce Courtenay).


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