Roald Dahl (13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990) was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot. Dahl’s short stories are known for their unexpected endings and his children’s books for their unsentimental, often very dark humour. His works for children include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, and The Twits. Adult works include Tales of the Unexpected and My Uncle Oswald.
Roald Dahl wrote all of his stories in a shed at the end of his garden. Every day from 10.00-12.00 and 16.00-18.00, Roald Dahl would write stories whilst sitting in a shed at the end of his garden. All of his stories were written using an HB pencil on yellow legal notepads.
Seven tips from Roald Dahl
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More features a short extract called Lucky Break, in which Roald Dahl explains how he came to be a writer. It also includes seven tips from Roald on the qualities he thought necessary to anyone wanting to make a living out of writing fiction. They were:
- “You should have a lively imagination.”
- “You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader’s mind. Not everybody has this ability. It is a gift and you either have it or you don’t.”
- “You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to stick to what you are doing and never give up, for hour after hour, day after day, week after week and month after month.”
- “You must be a perfectionist. That means you must never be satisfied with what you have written until you have rewritten it again and again, making it as good as you possibly can.”
- “You must have strong self-discipline. You are working alone. No one is employing you. No one is around to give you the sack if you don’t turn up for work, or to tick you off if you start slacking.”
- “It helps a lot if you have a keen sense of humour. This is not essential when writing for grown-ups, but for children, it’s vital.”
- “You must have a degree of humility. The writer who thinks that his work is marvellous is heading for trouble.”
Did You Know?..
“Roald Dahl created more than 250 words”
Chiddler, frobscottle, swishwiffingly scrumdiddlyumptious — okay so they’re not exactly in the OED, nor are they commonly used, but to create a register of 283 words is still quite impressive. The collection of words is called Gobblefunk and it’s mainly used in The BFG, although it does also make an appearance in Dahl’s other works, such as ‘Oompa Loompa’ in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.