13 Yr Old Niece, Flair For Writing, Looking For Tips, Help, Guides Etc For Her

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joko | 13:19 Tue 14th Jul 2020 | Arts & Literature
17 Answers
ive discovered my 13 yr old niece has an amazing flair for creative writing - i mean really good.
when my sis sent a few of her stories to me, i thought she was lying and had done them herself!
she seems to just be 'a natural'.

i write myself, and really i could only see about 3 fairly minor things i could have noted to her to improve (i didnt) and one of them was simply about layout!

they really were very good! - if i'd had to guess the age of the writer, i'd have said much older - teen, young adult - adult even.

so i'm looking for things online to help her - she has anxiety and gets nervous a lot, very shy and this is the first thing shes really excelling at - shes good at lots of things, but this is the one, i think that she could make a life out of, so i want to help her a bit

so im looking for

guides, manuals, worksheets, short courses - PDFs, software, websites, books - whatever anything etc etc - all aimed at kids/teens.
i dont want to overwhelm her and have her thinking its too hard and that shes not good enough and suddenly start seeing mistakes etc
i just want to encourage and help her learn gradually as she goes.
so not so much 'technical' guides of grammar, etc, more creative guides -
i can help with the technical stuff later if need be, and they'll do that stuff in school anyway.

also looking for ideas of authors and stories suitable for her age, that she'd probably like to read.
i can only think of judy blume, but must be more than that, i cant even remember those books now.

thanks for any help at all :)


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Try Googling short story competitions for her. Some of them will give feedback on the stories.
Any of the C S Lewis books, old children’s classics Heidi, Anne of Green Gables. Does she have interests or hobbies like riding or gymnastics, lots of books with these themes. Noel Streatfield Ballet Shoes or the skating one. Black Beauty, Secret Garden, Railway Children. Search amazon for children’s classics
Anthony horrowitz the alex ryder series are good
I wouldn't be that picky about curses or anything....encourage her to write about anything - and one of the best presents being a diary, saying that if she captures things that she has experienced/seen/ heard etc in just a few words, it can provide an aide-de memoire for her down the line when she turns to write an article/story/whatever. I would also get her to think about the emotion of a situation and what she was thinking or others too - as this appeals to readers......

Books - well, I would turn to ones like Arthur Ransome for imagination and even though she is persona non gratia, JK Rowling - if her reading is advanced, then on to Dickens, Bronte and Austen - and Daphne du Maurier has some good stories too like Jamaica Inn and Frenchman's Creek.
courses not curses! (Proof reading is essential most of the time - oops!)
Karen McManus is an author whose works might interest your niece

as is Holly Jackson

I've done a bit of creative writing from time to time, including getting some stuff published, so here are a couple of tips from me:

1. Begin a story where the action is already under way, rather than with lots of dull facts.

e.g. A reader will quickly get bored if you start a story like this:
"Melanie was 13. She lived in a small town called Marton. She was small for her age, with brown hair"

. . . whereas if you start like this, you'll be more likely to grab the reader's attention:
" 'Whose idea was it to come here, anyway?', said Karen

Melanie looked away from the rain that was pouring down outside the café window and turned to her: 'Don't blame me', she replied, 'the weather forecast said it would be sunny today'.

2. Try to provide a bit of background information about all of the characters in your story, even if they only appear in it on one occasion.

e.g. this is fairly boring:
"Stephanie went into the shop and asked the shopkeeper whether he sold dinosaurs"

. . . whereas this adds a bit more substance to things by providing a backstory for the shopkeeper (even though this is the only time he will feature in the story):
"Mr Brown was not in the best of moods but that wasn't unusual; he was rarely ever in a good mood. He'd been running his corner shop for over a quarter of a century and, as Mr Brown saw it, things simply got worse every year.

It wasn't the competition from the big supermarkets which really annoyed him though; it was the stupidity (as he saw it) of some of his customers. They always seemed to want things that he didn't stock. They'd ask for firelighters in August and for barbecue charcoal in January. They'd ignore the small selection of red nail polish that he stocked and demand that he supply them with some that was black or bright blue. They'd expect him to have obscure medical items that even the local hospital probably hadn't got or magazines that were so specialised that W H Smith's didn't even stock them. In short, Mr Brown was thoroughly fed up of customers who asked him for items that no reasonable person could ever expect to find in a small corner shop.

It was then that Stephanie walked up to his counter, wearing her sweetest smile. 'Surely', thought Mr Brown, 'such an innocent-looking child can't be about to ask me for something I haven't got'.

'Do you stock dinosaurs?', enquired Stephanie.
joko; are you able or willing to post any example of your niece's work?
agree with DTC: at the moment, the best training would just be reading and writing. Let her loose in the library or Waterstone's so she can look for something that catches her own attention. Time enough for creative writing courses later when she's aiming at her first Booker.
-- answer removed --
charley; mobile phones are sometimes difficult to use for caps etc. Anyway, joko is talking about her niece, not herself. I mean, you didn't put a question mark at the end of your question. :)
I think charley's been disappeared! That was a bit strict!!
? as requested
Thanks, charley. Pity your original post was deleted; now people won't know what we are talking about.
well, I have to say that I am now up the Puzzle tree as to that conversation - except to say, that I have a wonderful example of one behind the cottage that I live in....
and, jno, when she's at 'the right time' and if she loves descriptive text, I would suggest introducing her to Hemingway, a master of the art.
Question Author
Thanks all. i'll check all that stuff out properly.

i didnt see charlies post but i can imagine it, and i really dont give a toss.

im on a laptop and i just type as i think of it, as i speak - this is just an anonymous internet forum, i view this a conversation, not a piece of written work - so i cant be bothered with capitals and apostrophes etc - but rest assured i know it when i need to use it - as does my niece.

and rest assured ANY mistakes in formal writing are guaranteed to get me *** off. cant stand it. but here? Meh.

but feel free not to read my post if it bothers you.
it will never ever bother me :D
My post was only of interest to pedants.

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