A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
So we’ve all been told ‘practice makes perfect!’ at least once in our lives. I think I might have been told about a billion times (obviously not an exaggeration) in my younger years and I think it was sort of trilled at me and accompanied by a clenched, pearly smile. Creepy. But there is some truth in it, at least where writing is concerned. Without practice (or redrafting in our writing lingo) how are we going to make that manuscript shine? I’ve included three of my secret solutions.
I’m currently writing a fantasy novel so the world-building is important. I want to evoke something tangible and vivid (because people have somehow got to believe that dragons exist in it). If I’m feeling ‘stuck’ on a scene, I’ll often pull up an image on Google and work from that. (Good old Google). This might sound painfully simple, but it really helps – especially if you’re a visual person. I frequently find myself typing ‘sunset over plain lands’ and then I try and concoct some juicy sentences out of what I see. I think I like this practice because it is so concentrated and it makes me pause to really get into the ‘meaty’ description I’m after.
This is maybe one of my favorites. Random writing is when I give myself free rein to try out another writing project. This is brilliant if I feel that my current work is stale or a little ‘off’. I get to practice my writing skills and exercise my imagination by trying something completely different – and it gives me a little buzz (clearly, I need to get out more). For instance, if I’m currently writing a YA fantasy novel, then I’ll give one of my picture book ideas a chance instead. I would definitely recommend giving this a go if you’ve never tried it. You don’t know what you might come up with!
Okay, bear with me, because at first this won’t sound fun at all. If I feel like something isn’t working in my writing, or if I need to mix things up a little, then I’ll often practice completely rewriting a scene either from another character’s perspective or beginning the action in a different place… Okay, I might have lied to you – this didn’t sound fun to begin with and its not going to sound fun now, BUT it can help so much! There have been too many times that I’ve read through a scene knowing with a sinking feeling that it isn’t working and this is a quicker way to fix it (I say quicker because although time-consuming, it is quicker than my gut reaction, which is to stomp off to a darkened room and sulk for the rest of the day). Sometimes I never end up using the new piece that I’ve written, but the act of writing it helps to clarify the problem and I can easily see what’s not working. Are you convinced yet…? Maybe not.
So there we have it, three ways that I like to ‘practice’ my writing so that everything stays fresh. How do you practice your prose?
Rose/G. R. Mannering is an international bestselling author and lifelong book lover. Under the name G. R. Mannering, she dreams up dragons, unicorns and curses that last hundreds of years, writing fantasy YA fiction. As Rose Mannering she creates sweet, fun picture books with touching tales and a lot of character. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s posting on her book blog or uploading videos to her book-based Youtube channel. She resides in the UK with twin miniature schnauzers and teetering piles of paperbacks.