Secrets to Writing the Best Story Ever (Tips and Tricks from a Faber Writing Academy Course) by Shaye Wardrop

My day started at 4:30am. A three-and-a-bit hour drive along mostly boring highway, and a dash through more Sydney tunnels than I knew existed, and I parked in leafy Crows Nest and made my way to Allen and Unwin.

I'd made it. I was at the Getting Published as a Writer for Children course at the Faber Writing Academy.

It was a pleasure and an honour to attend this course. If I hadn't won the Magic, Mystery or Skateboards competition here at Creative Kids Tales, I'm not sure I ever would have attended an interstate writing course. But I am so glad I got the opportunity, and the experience has opened my eyes to the benefits of going just a little bit further to attend some of the amazing writing courses available in Australia (no matter where they might be).

And this course really had it all. Presented by Jane Godwin (author and editor), and with guest speakers Davina Bell (author and editor) and Liz Seymour (book designer), my classmates and I received a comprehensive and insightful behind-the-scenes look at how to create successful children's stories, what happens in a publishing house and how books are designed.

Jane, Davina and Liz were encouraging and generous, and the whole day was inspiring, educational and fun. If you ever get the opportunity to hear from these three talented creators and/or attend a Faber Writing Academy course, I highly recommend that you do.

But what about those secrets, right? How to you write the best story ever?

There was a lot we learnt during this amazing day, but the thing that stood out for me, my 'ah ha' moment of the day, was learning this:

Voice. Voice is the most important thing.

Here's what I learnt about voice:

  • Voice comes from within
  • Voice is emotional memory and your emotional connection with the age of your readers
  • Voice is authenticity and originality
  • Voice is you
  • Strong voice makes editors stop and take notice. It's what they're looking for!

But how do you find your voice, and how do you get it into your stories?

Jane encouraged us to make an emotional connection with ourselves as children. To think like our readers and think about who we were, and what we liked/disliked, when we were their age.

The aim is to make our readers believe we've actually lived our stories. And the best way to achieve that is to tap into our childhood mind, access our experiences and memories, and try to get the feelings and emotions associated with those memories onto the page.

We need to BE the child.

We did a couple of exercises to help us start thinking like kids again, but my favourite was to simply right down (as quickly as possible) some of our strongest childhood memories. Almost magically, the memories rose to the surface, and I found I could remember the most amazing details about people, places and emotions.

Taking what I learnt at this inspiring course, my goal is now to explore these ideas further, connect with my young self and nail down my voice.

I believe the result will be more original, authentic and vivid stories. In other words, the best stories ever!

Shaye Wardrop is an emerging author and a member of Creative Kids Tales. You can find out more about her here and at

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Wednesday, 05 August 2020

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