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  • David Richardson

Writing Workshop With Vashti Hardy - Blue Peter Award Winner

It was great to be with the Central East SCBWI group (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) yesterday evening as we enjoyed an exceedingly helpful workshop with Blue Peter Story of the Year award winner, Vashti Hardy.

Her theme was Getting To The Heart of Your Story, something that is a necessary aspect of novel writing – it’s the heart of the story that keeps readers reading.

The evening was billed as a workshop, and it was, with time given for us to ponder on applying Vashti’s advice to our own work in progress (WIP). She encouraged us to think not just of theme, plot and character but what she called ‘atmosphere’ too.

Atmosphere can take in aspects such as the settings we choose, the type of genre and even the time period. She spoke of her own experience, where the original idea of one of her stories was strong, but how the atmosphere wasn’t. It lead to some serious reworking.

She also suggested that as writers, we ask ourselves questions about our story – some of which are really tough. For example, is this the best plot for us to tell our character’s story? Wow! Just think, if the answer is no, then we could be in for a complete redraft of the whole project.

It was good to hear aspects of Vashti’s own writing process that helped us understand how to apply her excellent tips to our own writing.

In all we gained a better awareness of how to take well-known themes and give them an original, reader (and agent) attention grabbing twist. And, how to use a combination of character, plot and atmosphere to take our WIP to a deeper level – in fact, how to get right to the heart of our story.

Personal Takeaway Point

As you're writing, keep asking yourself questions about your work, especially the WHY question. Why is this happening this way? Why is the character doing this? Why not do it this way? It takes more time to do this, but it's the way to get to the heart of your story, and then to the heart of your reader.

Thanks very much for your time Vashti.

If you want to learn more about Vashti Hardy and her books – here’s her website:

And, for more information about SCBWI go to:

And SCBWI British Isles:

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