On this day… 13th September, 1916 – Roald Dahl born.
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.
On this day….
In 1951 the first episode of the BBC’s radio serial The Archers – farming folk of Ambridge. It is the world’s longest running radio ‘soap’.
One of the main acknowledgements of the soap is the writers’ and producers skills to craft real-life events into the soap. This at times can be incredibly challenging for the production team, some significant but unforeseen events require scenes to be rewritten and rerecorded at short notice, such as the death of Princess Margaret (particularly poignant because she had appeared as herself on the programme, the World Trade Center attacks, and the 7 July 2005 London bombings. The events and implications of the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis required many “topical inserts” and the rewriting of several storylines.
For budding script-writers a visit to this webpage which tells Carole Solazzo’s story (a scriptwriter and producer of the archers) about a typical day, her proudest moment and what she’s learnt from the production could be inspirational.
Also, the BBC regularly publish script competitions. The next one is Opening Lines – BBC Radio 4’s showcase for short stories is submissions accepted January 5th – February 13th 2015.
Maybe 2015 is the time to write your screenplay – goodluck J
On this day….
16th December 1901 – “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” by Beatrix Potter, was printed for the first time.
For those that don’t know, the tale was originally written for five-year-old Noel Moore, son of Potter’s former governess Annie Carter Moore, in 1893. It was revised and privately printed by Potter in 1901 after several publishers’ rejections. The rejections proved frustrating to Potter who knew exactly how her book should look (she had adopted the format and style of Helen Bannerman’s Little Black Sambo) “and how much it should cost”. She decided to publish the book herself, and, on 16 December 1901, the first 250 copies of her privately printed The Tale of Peter Rabbit “was ready for distribution to family and friends”.
It was later printed in a trade edition by Frederick Warne & Co. in 1902. The book was a success, and multiple reprints were issued in the years immediately following its debut. It has been translated into 36 languages and with 45 million copies sold it is one of the best-selling books of all time.
I think this tale is an inspiration to all aspiring writers, especially those who are entering the self-publishing world. I think the moral of this is “know your book is the best it can be and dream big”.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
As I set out on this mission to finally put my notes and scribbles and stories into something more real, I have become more analytical in things I do, say, even achieve. I guess it must be the same process for any of the arts, to become a painter you must start to notice everything around you in a lot more detail. For example I’m sure if you paint a field then return to that field in a months’ time and you would begin to notice subtle differences that could completely change your painting, more flowers have bloomed, the river alongside the field is running higher, or some kids have created a rope swing on the only tree in the field. Each of these things could add to your painting or would you use this new view to create another?
As I try to put more words to the page I notice I am reading in a different manner. Although I still love to read, and will read anything and everything I can get my hands on I am now analysing more details from the book rather than just staying immersed in the story. I have now found myself reading an alternative story immersing myself in things such as character/location/storyline creation and analysing details I hadn’t previously noticed (or indeed cared) about. Is there too much/not enough dialogue? Do the locations fit the story (and again are there too many described distracting the reader from the storyline)? How many characters do we meet, do they all serve a purpose?
Each of these attributes I hope to bring to my own writing, hopefully expanding on my skills by learning from those that have already made the great achievement of getting published.
After inspiration from a fellow blogger http://kateloveton.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/what-i-read-in-2013-and-the-value-of-reading/ I have started creating a review of each book I have read so far this year… time to get them typed and loaded up.