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  • David Richardson

Getting the Writing Bug

A Masterclass with M G Leonard

It was great last week to hear about M G Leonard’s writing career when she was in conversation with the Mother Goose of the Golden Egg Academy, Imogen Cooper.

It told of her move from the world of theatre to the life of a novelist. It was no easy, straightforward path, even for someone with a proven background in the arts.

But by determination, persistency and a helping hand from the Golden Egg Academy – she is now a successful, prizewinning author. A very busy, successful, prizewinning author.

It took her something like 10 years to write her first book Beetle Boy. But of course, things had to change when it came to book two. Especially when she was given just 6 weeks to get it done! What such a deadline helped her to understand, was the need to have a writing method.

Finding Her Method

Fighting against a quickly rising panic, M G Leonard speedily reorganised her life to make the time to write. To get momentum, she wrote the scenes that she already had in mind. That gave her a sense of confidence that the book would be done – and, done on time.

Now, she doesn’t hang around with her first draft. Based on a prepared outline, she writes it quickly, ignoring any glaring faults or gaps, knowing that she’ll correct them later. It isn’t until the first draft is done that she can understand her characters and know what they want.

With the completed first draft in front of her, she can get the overall picture, with the ability to see how the story will work out. She also works with a 5-Act structure, helping her to pace her book effectively and keep it to the right length.

It is this controlled, ‘get it done’ method that helps her to regularly produce books that are popular with her readers.

What’s Your Writing Method?

As M G Leonard said, with her readers being children, they grow up quickly. You can’t take five years to produce your next story, because by then your readers will have moved on. This especially applies to her popular Adventures on Trains series.

If children love reading your books, they just crave your next story. Keeping the momentum gives them what they want and means you can become a fulltime author, building a firm foundation of eager readers.

When I’m taking my writing classes and a new member states they want to write a novel, I doubt they really know what there're committing themselves to. Writing a novel is a massive undertaking.

So, if you have finished your novel or even the first draft of your novel – congratulations, you have achieved something that is to be praised!

Finding a method of working is what you need to complete your second book, then your third, then your fourth. Completing them in good time to keep your readers happy.

For me two books help: First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S Wiesner and Novel Metamorphosis by Darcy Pattinson. The first helps me to outline my story and get it organised. The second helps me take my first draft and power it up to become something so much better.

Whatever method works for you, you need to find and use it. As M G Leonard pointed out, in the children’s market you need to produce quickly. There are a 1000 other wannabe writers ready to take your place. And growing children won't wait years for your book two.

If you’re interested in the Golden Egg Academy 12-week course, it begins on the 18th April 2022. I attended it last year and if you’re looking to carve out your own career as a children’s writer, I can highly recommend it.

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