Monday 11 March 2013

Finding Cherokee Brown Blog Tour: Agatha Dashwood’s Writing Tips by Siobhan Curham

Today I'm excited to welcome Siobhan Curham to the blog to celebrate the release of her newest book Finding Cherokee Brown. I loved Siobhan's debut novel Dear Dylan when I read it a few years ago so I couldn't wait to read her next book and Finding Cherokee Brown doesn't disappoint. I'll be posting my full review later today but this was such a fun read and one I'd definitely recommend to fans of contemporary YA.

His lips touched mine and for one split second the whole world stopped. Then every cell in my body fizzed into life . . .

When I decided to write a book about my life I thought I'd have to make loads of stuff up. I mean, who wants to read about someone like me?

But as soon as I started writing, the weirdest thing happened. I found out I wasn't who I thought I was. And I stopped being scared. Then everything went crazy!

Best of all, I discovered that when you finally decide to be brave it's like waving a want over your life - the most magical things can happen . . .

Visit Siobhan Curham's website for more information

Now let me hand over to Siobhan who is going to tell you a little more about the book and share some of the writing tips included in the book.


Siobhan Curham

Agatha Dashwood’s Writing Tips

Finding Cherokee Brown is the story of a teenage girl who decides to write a book about her life after coming across a (fictional) second-hand book called, So You Want to Write a Novel by a writer called Agatha Dashwood. As Cherokee follows the advice in the book and starts writing about her own life, it helps her become more like the feisty literary heroines she loves to read about – and gives her the courage to stand up to her bullies.

Each chapter in Finding Cherokee Brown begins with a writing tip from Agatha Dashwood and we see Cherokee following that advice somewhere in the chapter. Rather than write completely straightforward writing tips, I decided to have fun with Agatha Dashwood’s voice and made her a very bossy, old-fashioned, straight-laced writer from the 1950s. Although the tips are all genuine, and hopefully will help any aspiring writers reading the book, I also wanted to give people a laugh when they read them.

Here are a selection:

The Character Questionnaire
“When I started out in my writing career, many years ago, writing short stories and serials for The Respected Lady magazine, the Character Questionnaire became my most cherished friend. Use the template below before you start your story to get to know your own characters even better than you know yourself.”

The Opening Paragraph
“Dear writer, imagine if you will that your reader is a trout, swimming merrily downstream. The first paragraph of your novel should be like the maggot on the end of the fisherman’s line. Juicy and appealing to the point of irresistible. Hook them with that and then let the rest of your first chapter reel them in.”

Character Journey
“For your main character your story has to be a journey. This journey can be physical, but it must always, without fail, be emotional. If your character hasn’t grown, learnt and changed by the end of your novel then I am afraid they are destined for the wastepaper bin.”

Show, Don’t Tell
“One of the crassest mistakes a new novelist can make is to waste acres of paper telling their reader all about their characters and their motivations. You must SHOW us this information, dear writer, through the character’s actions, rather than tediously tell.”

Conflict = Drama
“There has never been a best-selling novel about a blade of grass growing, or a drop of paint drying. The reason for this is simple, my dear. Readers crave drama and if you don’t create conflict for your characters you cannot create drama.”

“My dears, it’s all fine and dandy knowing your characters inside out, but what do they think of each other, and how do you let the reader know?”

“The theme for my first novel, ‘The Proud Maiden’ was the sanctity of virginity and for my most well known novel, ‘The Eternal Volcano’ it was the abiding power of love. Decide today upon the message you want your own novel to convey.”


Thanks for a fab guest post Siobhan! I have no intention of trying to become a writer (I'm a very happy reader of everyone else's hard work lol) but these tips make a lot of sense when I look at them from a readers point of view. I loved the tip about the opening paragraph - it takes a nice juicy first line to hook this reader :o)

Don't forget to come back later to read my review of Finding Cherokee Brown and make sure you check out the other tour stops below:

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