So, if you're a writer, listen up! Here are some conversations I've had with my kids (most of which have appeared on my Facebook page. If you want to read about these as they happen, go over and "like" my page. No doubt the advice featured below won't be the last I receive!)
Choose your genre wiselyMy 10 year old daughter: Why do you write books?
Me: It's my job.
10 year old: What do you write about?
Me: Boys and girls falling in love.
10 year old, with look of disgust: Why are you writing about that? Can't you get a better job?
Then followed a half hour lecture on why I should write books like Harry Potter...
Think carefully about the words you use6 year old: My teacher told me that you need to use fast words to write a good story.
Me: What are fast words?
6 year old: "and" "the" "it" - that sort of thing. Are you using them?
6 year old looking over my shoulder and pointing randomly at the screen: Put another "and" there. That bit needs more "the"s.
Me, picking up six year old and depositing her outside my office door: Thanks. I'll keep that in mind.
6 year old shouting through closed door: Don't forget to use a full stop. Put one at the end of your story. You need one there.
Ask yourself, is the romance genre really enough?Ten year old: So they just get together and kiss and stuff. Is that it? That's the story?
Me: There's a bit more to it than that.
Ten year old: Like what?
Me, head beginning to ache: They deal with their pasts, issues they may have and they deal with the trials that come up in the story.
Ten year old: That still sounds boring mum. They need to go on an adventure. In the books I read they always go on an adventure.
Me: Thanks for the input.
Ten year old: And solve a mystery. They need to solve a mystery. In Famous Five they always solve mysteries. Have you added one?
Me, gritting teeth: Not yet.
Ten year old: And a dog. If you add a dog he'll help your characters with their mystery and their adventure. Just make sure you don't write in any wells. Dogs are always falling down wells.
Me: You must have time on your hands. Have you cleaned your room yet?
Ten year old disappears...
Book length is important6 year old: How many pages are in your book?
Me: About 300
6 year old: Is that a lot?
Me: It's about average for a book like this.
6 year old: Are there any pictures?
Me: It isn't that sort of book.
6 year old with look of utter disgust: Mum, I thought you said you were a proper writer. How can you write proper books if it's just lots of pages filled with words? You need picture in it or nobody will want to read it. I thought you knew that!
6 year old stomps out of my office. Half an hour later she comes back and dumps a pile of paper in front of me.
6 year old: I made you some pictures for your book. I have to do everything around here.
6 year old rolls eyes and stomps back out.
The drawings were of hearts, elephants and trees. She's still upset they aren't in my books.
Question your motivationTen year old: Mum do you have to be a writer? Is papa forcing you to do it?
Me: This isn't homework. I want to do it.
Ten year old: Why? Hardly anybody reads your books anyway.
Me: Thanks for the chat. Now I need to go put my head in the oven...
If all else fails...Ten year old: What's your book about?
Me: An ex-footballer trying to live down his past and a single mother who is starting over.
Ten year old: It sounds awful serious, mum.
Me: No, there are funny bits too.
Ten year old: Are there any platypuses in the book?
Ten year old: I'd love to read a book with a platypus. But it would need to be the hero, or something important. Maybe you should add a platypus? I'm telling you, mum, people love to read about them. It would make your book great.
Me: I'll think about that...never...
Ten year old: Are you worried that you won't be able to explain why there's a platypus in your Scottish town?
Me (ushering her out of the room and far, far away): Yes. That's "exactly" what I'm worried about...(???)
That's it for now. I'm sure if you follow all of that advice you'll be a much better writer. Oh, and if you have some wonderful advice you've been given, don't forget to let me know! :D