At Bringing Words to Life, we love nurturing talented young writers. We work hard to help writers develop their skills, and have put together our top five tips for young people who want to work on their writing. Without further ado, here are five pieces of advice to help you take your writing to the next level.
1) Read a lot
Newspapers, magazines, blogs, novels – it doesn’t matter what. What matters is that you spend time reading what other people have written. This is one of the best ways to pick up ideas that you mightn’t have thought of and to learn more the use of style in your work.
2) Keep up to date with the news
A good writer knows what’s going on in the world. As well as giving you ideas for topics to write about, it’ll also help you to see what people are worried and excited about, and what sort of thing interests them.
3) Know your reader
Who are you writing for? What are you trying to convey? The language you use and the topics you cover will look very different if you’re trying to entertain a fellow teen than they will if you’re trying to present a factual report for an adult businessperson. What does your reader already know? What do they want to know? How can you best present your ideas in a way that will interest them?
4) Practise accuracy
Spell checking is only the first step. When you are trying to produce professional quality articles, you need to check, check and double check. What is your punctuation like? Are you being consistent with things like italicising, speech marks, and layout? Have you included links, and checked that they lead to the correct site? This all requires practice and cultivating a sense of attention to detail.
5) Check your sources
So you’ve seen a ‘fact’ somewhere online – how do you know it’s true? Learn to cross-reference any information from a range of different sources and distinguish between fact and opinion. Independent research is even better.
If you’re a young person from the North East who’s interested in journalism, then please email [email protected] to find out how we can help you!
A study by think-tank Demos says some pupils feel school is just preparing them for exams. The study urges the government to help school and colleges explore self-belief, perseverance and resilience.
The ‘Mind Over Matter’ report is based on interviews with experts and a survey of 1,000 students, and from this, it is suggested that there is a steady decline in children’s self-belief between 14 and 18.
33% of final-year students are half as likely to feel happy as 14 year olds (60%), it says. These 18 year olds feel as though there is too much pressure on exams rather than learning life skills and preparing for life outside the classroom.
This is understandable as stress from exams can have adverse effects on a students life, with so much focus being on grades and schoolwork, it is hardly a shock to see why these students are feeling down. The report also highlights some gender discrepancies, as only 39% of girls surveyed sad they were happy, apposed to 50% of boys.
There is an increasingly large body of research detailing how non academic factors such as resilience, grit and empathy have a profound impact on young people and their ability to succeed. It calls the adoption and practise of this approach ‘a growth mindset’, claiming the ideas behind it is simple.
‘If we believe our intelligence and abilities are not fixed at birth, but can be developed through effort – if we have a ‘growth mindset’ – then we are more likely to look for challenges to see failures and setbacks as learning opportunities, and ultimately to achieve more personally and professionally,’ it says.
So in practice, those with ‘fixed mindsets’ conclude they will never be able to achieve certain goals when faced with setbacks, big or small.
Report author Louis Reynolds said: ‘Mindsets matter – they can hold us back or propel us forward to achieve more. This insight needs to be applied more systematically in our education system.
‘That’s why we have invested £5m to fund projects that will help young people to develop positive character traits, recognize excellent practice through the character awards and support research into what works best.’
For more information, click here.
Homesickness reaches its peak just three weeks into October Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) research suggests. Of the approximate 1.7 million journeys made across the entire rail network last year, over 337,000 were made using 16-25 Railcards. A 13% increase than the usual weekly average.
For railcard journeys originating in university towns, the figure was 28% higher than that of a usual week. the only busier time being around Christmas.
The top five cities 16-25-year-olds were traveling from in the third working week of October last week were:
– Exeter with 64% more journeys than the usual weekly average
– Durham up 61%
– Liverpool up 52%
– Bristol up 45%
– Birmingham 42%
Freshers must seem like a distant memory, and as the workload starts to build, many decide a trip home is the way to go (travel pun), data suggests.
Andrew Robertson claimed ‘It’s interesting to see such a clear spike in Railcard journeys in October.
‘Going to university for the first time can be an exciting but daunting experience for young adults. And our research indicates that for many, the reality of living away from parents can really kick in after just a few weeks.’
He suggested that things like budget constraints, running out of clean clothes or the lack of a home cooked meal could be a few of the reasons why many students yearn for the comfort of their own bedroom.
‘A trip home seems to be just what students need to recharge the batteries after a few hectic weeks at university,’ he concluded.Latest research shows that children today show less interest in writing than they do in reading.
The report, Children’s and Young People’s Writing in 2014, has set out the findings for the fifth annual survey of more than 32,000 eight- to 18-year-olds. The findings were that children’s enjoyment of writing has started to increase slowly over the last three years. However, they still enjoy writing less than reading (49.3% compared with 54.4%). Meanwhile, the percentage of children and young people who write daily outside of school and classes has remained relatively stable over the last few years, with more than a quarter (27.2%) saying they write outside of class daily. This is a rather stark contrast, due to the dramatic increase in children reading outside of class, which has risen from 32.2% in 2013 to 41.4% in 2014.
The problem could be that children do not see a connection between writing skills and job prospects. The research (quite shockingly) showed that young people do not associate strong writing skills with employability. Just over half of the pupils (54.2%) agreed that writing skills would lead them into a better career, and one in eight (12.1%) denied any connection between the two.
The study also showed that writing enjoyment and frequency decreases as pupils get older. 57.4% of pupils in Key Stage 2 said they enjoy writing outside of school. This figure then drops to 47.1% in KS3, with a further drop in KS4, with just 38.8% showing an interest in writing outside of school.
From a student’s perspective it can be understood. Spending all day Monday to Friday – and further time at home on weekends – writing out essays and tests can reduce the desire to write outside of class.
However, it has been shown that pupils who enjoy writing are six times more likely to write above their expected age level than pupils who do not enjoy writing at all (46.3% versus 7.3%).
With writing becoming more popular in young children, it is hoped that in the near future, there will be a healthy balance in enjoyment between reading and writing, with each skill being just as important as the other.
Councils across England are planning a new wave of ‘super-size’ secondary schools with between 12 and 16 form groups for each year. The government have claimed that larger schools could produce very good results.
But let’s think of what effect this would have on students. Think about it. Kids today have enough problems at school without having a metric ton more people to worry about. Here we’ll look at the pros and cons of what this could mean for student life in secondary school.
– Think how difficult it was to settle yourself into a friendship group when starting out in secondary school. The amount of new faces and names you had to get used to, including a new building, and new teachers – overwhelming.
– With the schools being planned for both urban and rural areas when pupil numbers peak in the next few years, there could be more than 2,000 students per school. And if that doesn’t sound like a terrifying amount of humans to have in a single building, who knows what is.
– It would also mean having to get the appropriate number of teachers, and with the estimated 53% of teachers planning to quit in the next two years, there have to be some questions raised as to how the government will build these schools, and then equip them with relevant staff.
– There must also be confidence in the fact that students can maintain good behaviour and academic standards, according to Nick Gibb (Schools minister). If these schools are opened, would that mean smaller schools would be closed, and students from them would be transferred to the larger buildings? If so, what would happen to the teachers?
– Even minor things like travel could be an issue: how would (potentially) 2000 parents get their children to school, along with everyone else? Traffic would be a concern, along with road safety.
However, while there are a number of things that could go horribly wrong with this ambitious plan, it cannot be denied that there may be some good to come from this.
– There would be an undeniably wide range of subjects to cover. With 2,000+ students, there will be more diversity in the subjects that could be taught due to the differences in interest. Things like drama, art and music – subjects that aren’t as widely recognised as academic – may get attention from a wider number of students. Different languages could be introduced, from Spanish to Dutch, or even Japanese. There would be a vast array of subjects that could be taught.
– They could save money on building smaller schools, and with one large school, it could encourage more interactivity with the community, particularly in rural areas, as it could mean an entire village of people could be going to the same school, increasing the value of communication between things like student council and where the students live.
– With more students, it’s more likely there would be a friend for everyone. Or potential for more students to become friends with those they might not have originally thought. However unlikely that may sound.
While these ‘super-sized’ schools won’t be confirmed for the next few years, given pupil count, it would be wise to watch closely as this develops, – especially since, according to many, lots of the decisions the government has made with regard to education haven’t been the best.McDonald’s have announced that they will be giving away 14 million abridged Roald Dahl books, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, Penguin Random House, and the Roald Dahl Literacy Estate.
Eight different books will be given away with Happy Meals, each containing themed extracts from his most famous books, including ‘The BFG’, ‘The Twits’ and ‘Matilda’. Since 2013, Mcdonald’s has given over 22.8 million books away through its Happy Readers initiative, which aims to put a focus on increasing book ownership and encouraging children in the UK to begin to love reading. Steve Hill, Head of Marketing at McDonald’s UK, said, “Dads like me grew up on the magic of Roald Dahl and his extraordinary characters.” He claimed he was “thrilled we’re able to introduce the likes of Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and the wonderfully ludicrous Twits to a new generation of readers.”
In addition to this, McDonald’s UK has also developed an app, the first of its kind, to bring Roald Dahl books to life. Using voice recognition, it plays relevant sounds and visuals when it hears trigger words.
McDonald’s have also released the results of a survey of 3,000 children, parents and grandparents, revealing the ultimate ingredients of a story teller. You can view them here.
People make mistakes. That much is true. But it’s always worth correcting those mistakes and looking through your work. Pick your writing apart and ask yourself a few questions:
Does it make sense? Are you using correct punctuation and grammar, making sure to do even the simple things like capital letters and full stops? Even the best writers still need to proofread and revise what they have written, before sending their work on to their editors or teachers.
Is the information I have included crucial to my writing? Often you’ll waffle, without even realising it: you’ll trail off, talking about the same thing over and over again; just talking about it until you finally find a way to end the sentence because you’ve talked about how you waffle on, and on… like that. If you’re writing a story, be descriptive, but don’t overdo it. If you’re a journalist, stick to the facts and don’t trail off into the realms of opinion.
The most crucial thing to remember is to look objectively at your work. In other words, don’t say it’s good just because it’s yours. You have be able to point out flaws in your own work while checking through, and always correct them! There is nothing wrong with self-correction.
Best of: books for ages 18+ #1: ‘1984’ by George Orwell
It’s everywhere throughout pop culture. Room 101, Big Brother, Newspeak – the concepts Orwell created have a life far beyond the pages of this short novel. Even the term Orwellian is in frequent use, meaning a state of constant surveillance.
Published in 1949, Orwell’s dystopia tells the story of Winston Smith, who works for The Ministry of Truth, a governmental department. Through his eyes, we see a world different to our own in many ways, but with a number of scary similarities. Written at the time of the Cold War, it isn’t difficult to see unpleasant parallels with real-life political and social situations.
Recognised from its publication as one of the greatest pieces of literary fiction of all time, this book must be on everyone’s ‘to read’ list, if only to make a whole plethora of pop-culture references suddenly become clear. It’s scary, depressing, futuristic and political, which make it not ideal for dipping in and out of, or light reading, but if you can stomach it, you won’t regret picking it up.
By the same author: A range of essays and political writing, and other works of fiction, including the very famous (and brilliant!) ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’.
Winner of multiple awards including the 1999 ‘Newbery Medal’, ‘Holes’ tells the story of an overweight teenage boy named Stanley Yelnats, who always finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Convicted of a crime he did not commit, Stanley finds himself sent to the foreboding Camp Green Lake, where he has to keep his head down and make friends in order to survive.
Flitting between the modern day and the 1880s, the story offers a lot of perspectives. Gritty yet hilarious, silly yet deep, ‘Holes’ offers something for everyone of every age. A staple of the modern-day classroom, ‘Holes’ is a great read for an ambitious 8-year-old or a reluctant adult and everyone inbetween.
Adapted into a critically acclaimed film in 2001, ‘Holes’ also has two sequels which continue the mystery and adventure of the original. A story which throws into question the notion of justice and the reliability of the adults in the novel, ‘Holes’ is a haunting tale of friendship and what is right. It will stay with you.
By the same author: ‘Small Steps’, ‘There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom’ and more.