story, science, technology and creativity

Simply the best: tips from the Perth Writer’s Festival


I’ve just spent the last few days living the dream at the Perth Writer’s Festival: wandering the green UWA campus, listening to some of Australia’s most brilliant writers for children and young adults, meeting with my Australian distributer (Walker Books)(exciting and inspiring stuff!), sharing laughs with theatres full of children, watching massive queues of kids clutching books they want signed. It has been fantastic, and I learned a HEAP from watching other authors work their magic.


Some interesting points were raised, and I list a few here to think about: I managed to attribute some ideas to some of the authors I saw on Sunday, but the others came from Saturday and I can’t remember who said what (sorry!!!). So here goes:

– A good book needs three great scenes, with no bad scenes

– You can drive a good plot by finding out what a character needs, and then taking it away from them (noone ever said writers were nice people ;-))

– fantastic YA books are also fantastic plot-driven adult books that happen to star a young protagonist

– we human beings love getting wind of a good problem, especially someone else’s problem, so….give your characters a problem, or three. As a bonus, when you introduce a problem into your story, you automatically introduce the possibility of more than one ending (Morris Gleitzman)

– saying “bum” is funny and addictive. And humour is an amazing way to inspire kids’ imaginations (Andy Griffiths)

– you can practise telling stories by creating three-sentence stories that have 1) a beginning, where you introduce the character and setting, 2) a middle, where you add a complication, and 3) an end, where you overcome the complication and sort everything out (Garth Nix)


ALSO….thanks to Jon Doust (author of the amazing Boy on a Wire), who I randomly met in a queue for lunch. I swear, Jon looks just like my Uncle Max, but since it took me a long while to work this out (right up until about half an hour ago when I went “aha! Uncle Max!”), and so I started our conversation with the awful, awful “don’t I know you from somewhere?”.

Which, of course, I didn’t.

But now I kind of do. Because Jon gave me (a complete stranger who was way too nosy) two bits of his sushi (chicken teriyaki…yum!), which was not only very generous but probably also saved my life because the queue I was in was the “order from the bar” queue and not the “pay for your sandwich” queue, so it could have been a long time between sandwiches. THANK YOU JON!!


You can listen to podcasts of many of the sessions c/o the ABC.


WOO HOO! I just sent FORESTS AND FILTH LICKERS to my editor in London. EXCITEMENT!! I hope she loves it as much as I do 🙂 🙂 And WOO WOO HOO HOO (double woo hoo)…I’m back in thinking mode: brainstorming up some great projects to pitch while I gather steam for Book 3 in the TAKESHITA DEMONS trilogy.

Author: cristyburne


3 thoughts on “Simply the best: tips from the Perth Writer’s Festival

  1. Hi David,

    I think the “three great scenes” thing means three scenes that are strong in your head and you just can’t wait to write them cause you know they’ll be winners…that kind of thing.

    Good luck with the agent!! That’s top news: if they’re reading your MS you’re already halfway there!

    And YAY Paula for your theatre…I would love to see your play (any links?) And you totally must most certainly enter the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices book award for next year!!!!!! (Where can I find more info on your play??)


  2. Hi Cristy,
    Sounds like you’ve been really busy since you got back to Aus. Loved the tips from VTV.
    I’ve begun to write for a young audience, just trying it out. Having more luck in Theatre than anywhere else. Shame you can’t come and see my play, London’s quite a difficult commute:-)
    Keep up the good work. Its all very Inspiring!

    Paula 🙂


  3. Great ideas from the VTVs! I especially liked the one about the three great scenes although I’m not sure who determines a great scene. Is it the writer or the reader? I’ve occasionally written scenes that I’ve thought couldn’t have gone better, but I know there have been scenes that looked good at first that stayed on the page. Hope the writing’s going well. I’m waiting for an agent to read my manuscript and get back to me.


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