Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Writer's nugget #2: Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo
My seven-year-old daughter recently wrote a fan letter to the mighty Michael Morpurgo. She'd devoured The Butterfly Lion, The Amazing Tale of Adolphus Tips and The Dancing Bear and felt compelled to put pen to paper.

A few weeks later she received a signed photograph and a round-robin letter from him. She was pretty pleased!

So in light of that, I'd like to bring to your attention Michael's top-ten tips for writing, as shared with the Guardian newspaper not so long ago:

1 The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible, to have my antennae out all the time.

2 Ted Hughes gave me this advice and it works wonders: record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and bewilderments and joys.

3 A notion for a story is for me a confluence of real events, historical perhaps, or from my own memory to create an exciting fusion.

4 It is the gestation time which counts.

5 Once the skeleton of the story is ready I begin talking about it, mostly to Clare, my wife, sounding her out.

6 By the time I sit down and face the blank page I am raring to go. I tell it as if I'm talking to my best friend or one of my grandchildren.

7 Once a chapter is scribbled down rough – I write very small so I don't have to turn the page and face the next empty one – Clare puts it on the word processor, prints it out, sometimes with her own comments added.

8 When I'm deep inside a story, ­living it as I write, I honestly don't know what will happen. I try not to dictate it, not to play God.

9 Once the book is finished in its first draft, I read it out loud to myself. How it sounds is hugely important.

10 With all editing, no matter how sensitive – and I've been very lucky here – I react sulkily at first, but then I settle down and get on with it, and a year later I have my book in my hand.


  1. Thanks, Will. It's on my list! Steven Spielberg is making a film version at the moment.