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  Advice to young authors and illustrators

 Claire Rosemary Jane |  Joan Aiken |  Philip Ardagh |  Val Biro |
 Malorie Blackman | Quentin Blake | Mark Burgess | David Clayton |
 Helen Cresswell | Peter Dickinson | Berlie Doherty | Anne Fine | Kes Gray |
 Pat Hutchins | Robert Leeson | Jonathon Long | Jan Mark | Alan Macdonald |
 Roger McGough | Barbara Mitchelhill | Tony Mitton | Miriam Moss | Hiawyn Oram  Philip Pullman | Hilary Robinson | Ragnhild Scamell | Nick Sharratt |
 Jeremy Strong | Rhian Tracey |  Chris White |  Gwyneth Williamson | Jacqueline Wilson

(Please note that the authors have contributed their comments but are not able to answer questions from readers unless they specifically say so below.)

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Philip Ardagh

Co-creator of Kids' Castle

Often, one of hardest things about writing is actually getting started. A blank page, or computer screen, stares at you as if to say: 'You think you're soooo clever. What are you going to write on me then, huh?' Once you've written down a sentence or idea - however simple or straightforward - then you've got something to work on.

Remember, writing a story isn't just about saying what happens. The way you tell something can be as important (and FUN) as the actual events you're describing. Take falling out of a tree, for example. It's an ordinary event, but there are so many different ways you can write it up.

Suspense: Will he, won't he fall?

Emotion: The fear, the fall, the pain...

Humour: Ooops! Aaaaaargh! THUD! (or, if it's a taller tree: Ooops! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! SPLAT!)

And how did that person get to be up in a tree in the first place? And what happened after the fall? From the simplest of ideas, other ideas are already beginning to take shape. Maybe it wasn't a person up the tree at all, but a penguin... and how, on Earth, did a penguin get to be up a tree? Did it parachute from a helicopter? Maybe it wasn't a tree, either. Maybe it was an ICEBERG.

Now lots of ideas are fizzing around the brain, down the arms and into the pen or keyboard. Hey presto! No more smug blank page or computer screen trying to stare you out. You're in charge. The writing is beginning to take shape...

Philip Ardagh's website

Philip Ardagh is probably best-known as the author of the best-selling Eddie Dickens adventures, currently being developed by Warner Brothers and the producers of The Matrix for a proposed series of animated family feature films. He recently collaborated with Paul McCartney and illustrator Geoff Dunbar on High In The Clouds, Sir Paul's first children's book. Philip also regularly reviews children's books for The Guardian, and occasionally crops up on Radio 4, for which he has also written an afternoon story for adults and a children's drama (in which he played himself and a pigeon on a ledge). He was a witness for the defence of Alice in Wonderland in The Battle of the Books for the BBC's The Big Read. He has a passion for history and archaeology and has been described as "one of life's fact finders". Philip Ardagh regularly appears at literary festivals throughout the British Isles, and has written over seventy books which have been translated into more than thirty languages. (Castle-lovers might like to try the paperback Why Are Castles Castle-Shaped? 1001/2 Questions About Castles Answered, published by Faber & Faber.)

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2003-2006 Kids on the Net and the authors        Last revised 27-Jun-2005
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