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To: My Fans!
From: Ann
Writing Tips From Ann

May 2001

Hello, readers!

Judging from the mail I receive, writing is really important to many of my readers! And whether it's a book report, a short story, a poem or a research paper, kids want to do the best job possible when it's time to put words to paper. But school assignments don't account for all of the writing. Many of my readers also like to write for pleasure in their free time. So for those of you who are eager to pick up a hint or two from someone who's been doing this for a long time, I offer you: (DRUM ROLL, PLEASE)

Ann's Top Ten Writing Tips!

1. Have you heard the old joke about the New York City tourist asking a taxi driver, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The taxi driver answers, "Practice, practice, practice." Well, the same thing applies to writing. It's something you need to do a lot in order to get better. Don't worry about how much you write or how good you think it is. Just try to write something every day. You may find that something you once jotted down gives you inspiration for a future story.

2. a) Read; b) read; and c) read some more. I wrote it three times because it's really important! Reading is one of the best ways to become a better writer. When you read a book you enjoy, you see how an author tells a story in a way that interests you. Even a book you don't enjoy teaches you what you want to avoid in your own writing. Use your own voice and style of writing.

3. Enjoy it! Write about something that interests you. If you love stories about animals, go for it. Maybe you like science fiction or scary stories. If you're excited about your subject, your enthusiasm will probably come through. But don't shut yourself off from other types of writing. Who knows? If you sign up to work on the school paper, you may be surprised to learn that you have a knack for writing an opinion column!

4. Get comfortable. I need to write in a quiet room, but you may want to go outside with a notebook or sit in your room with headphones on. Think about setting up a routine. I write every day and I do all of my writing in the morning. There have been times when I didn't much feel like writing, but I've done it anyway and have been pleasantly surprised with my work.

5. Think about how you want to get started. In the Peanuts cartoon, Snoopy always begins his novels with, "It was a dark and stormy night..." Check out how your favorite authors have caught your attention on the first page of their stories. You are the best judge of what captures your interest and makes you want to continue reading.

6. Keep at it. Plug away. Don't quit. (Do you get the general idea here?) If you don't finish it, no one else will...and then we'll never know how it ended!

7. Make any changes you want. It's your story. Experiment a little until you like what you see. And if you like to write your stories on a computer, editing is easier than ever. The image of a writer staring at a typewriter with balls of crumpled paper all over the floor is pretty outdated now that we can cut and paste with the click of a mouse!

8. Don't be afraid of occasional "writer's block." (This is when you can't seem to write anything!) It happens to all of us. Set your work aside for a little while and do something different. Eat an apple, call a friend, or kick a soccer ball around. Chances are you'll look at your story with fresh eyes when you return to it.

9. Ask for advice. Don't be shy about getting some tips from a teacher, parent, or other adult who is interested in writing and willing to read your stories. Maybe you and some friends can start a writers' group so you can share and discuss your work with each other.

10. Find out if your school offers a creative writing course and sign up. You can have a lot of fun in a class that's all about writing. Be sure to save your work. I guarantee that you'll enjoy reading it again when you are a little older!

Happy writing!

Love, Ann