Today, we were honoured to welcome Chris Priestley to Oxford Spires, author of brilliant spine-chilling novels such as the Tales of Terror and The Dead Men Stood Together. Chris gave talks to students in Years 7, 8 and 9, and was then available in the Library during lunch time selling and signing his books. He is very popular amongst a range of children at our school, and I love that he appeals to girls and boys, young and old.
Our students were engaged and attentive, producing some challenging and unusual questions to ask our visitor. One boy asked Chris how he imagined death. Later clarification revealed that he was not asking Chris how he envisioned his own death, but how he thought 'death' might appear if personified in physical form.
Chris also met with our creative writing sixth form students, talking to them about writing, editing and publishing. There were some really interesting things that I took away, during which he explained the inspiration for some of his metafiction novels and highlighted the importance of planning (even though he confessed he hated the process). He talked about plotting the story in key moments from 1 to 10, so you have a clear image of where you are going. Otherwise, many writers start out with an idea, but cannot complete the novel because they have no conclusion.
If you are feeling unable to edit something, Chris suggests you put the work in a drawer for six months and come back to it later, fresh with new perspectives and ideas. Apparenly, some publishers even edit backwards, which enables them to focus more on the language and structure rather than getting engrossed in the plot and distracted from the process. I think I might have to try this out!
We were really pleased with World Book Day this year. Alongside our author visit, we run competitions for the students, including challenging them to write book reviews and fifty word mini-saga, which I cannot wait to read. We have had tonnes of brilliant entries, even from students who don't consider themselves to read or write very well. All around school, we have a great buzz about reading - the sign of a truly successful World Book Day.