Our Winners!

Thank you to everyone who took part in Wild About Writing this summer.
We were very impressed by the quality of the entries and it was wonderful to read so many great stories inspired by the natural world. Some were sad, some were funny and some were very beautiful.
Judging the stories wasn’t an easy task, but we’re delighted that we can now announce the Wild About Writing runners up and winners.

1Age 7-10 Category

The WINNER is The Little Owl of Bawdsey by George Doshi, age 8 from Ipswich, Suffolk

The judges were impressed with the well observed characters and praised the honest writing and empathy from this young writer.

The runners up are Gastropod by Amber Williamson-Brown and Mabel the Owl by Lucy Purcell.

2Age 11-13 Category

The WINNER is Frost by Samuel Heatley, age 13 from Liphook, Hampshire

The judges enjoyed this beautiful, lyrical story which they described as original and a delight to read with good use of language.

The runners up are Dowsing to the Falls by Isobel Leech and The Mice by Polly Margesson.

The winning stories, The Little Owl of Bawdsey and Frost will both be published in the December issue of EADT Suffolk Magazine and on the Suffolk Magazine website.

Judges

James Mayhew

James Mayhew is the author and illustrator of the long-running and best-selling Katie and Ella Bella Ballerina books. First published in 1989, Katie's Picture Show established this much-loved series that introduces children to the great works of art; while Ella Bella Ballerina is a bridge to the great ballets of Tchaikovsky and others. James is also the illustrator of Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes. Apart from his work in publishing, James is an internationally renowned concert presenter, illustrating live on stage with orchestras and ensembles in venues including the Royal Albert Hall. James grew up in the small village of Blundeston and as a child enjoyed playing games and adventuring around the Suffolk countryside with his sister Kate.

Francesca Armour-Chelu

Francesca Armour-Chelu is best known for her books Fenn Halflin and the Fear Zero and Fenn Halflin and the Seaborn. These exciting adventures are set in a vividly imagined, flooded world, partly inspired by her own childhood living on water meadows in an abandoned Edwardian railway carriage in Suffolk. Francesca’s third novel, The Butterfly Circus is a spellbinding, magical tale about two sisters and their journey to find each other again.

Dr James Canton

Dr James Canton leads the MA in Wild Writing at the University of Essex; a course exploring the fascinating ties between the literature and landscape of East Anglia. He writes and runs workshops encouraging people to write about nature and landscape. His book Out of Essex: Re-Imagining a Literary Landscape was inspired by rural wanderings in the county. His latest book, Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric, is a gentle tale of discovery, exploring physical traces of the ancient world which suggest we may more in common with our ancient ancestors than we imagine.

Jayne Lindill

Editor of Suffolk Magazine Jayne has been a journalist all her working life. Suffolk born and bred, she began her career with the East Anglian Daily Times. Over the past four decades she has put her skills to use as a writer and editor in various roles in the media and corporate world, both in the UK and abroad in Australia and Japan. She is passionate about supporting the arts, especially literature, theatre and the visual arts. She also loves the natural world and believes it is vital to stimulating creativity and protecting human wellbeing.

How To Enter

Sorry, the last date for submitting entries was 31st August. Entries for this year's competition are now closed.

Prizes

There's one winner and two runners up in each age category.

Winning Entries

The two winners will see their stories published in EADT Suffolk Magazine later this year.
Both winners will also receive a £25 Book Token and a family day pass to RSPB Minsmere, Suffolk.

Runners Up Entries

The two runners up in each category will win a £15 Book Token.

Where to go wild

Wild About Writing was inspired by the beautiful Suffolk countryside. In Suffolk we’re lucky enough to have easy access to lots of different, inspiring wild environments from beaches, forests and woods to rivers, meadows and marshes. Most of the links below are for places in Suffolk, but there are interesting, stunning, intriguing, inspiring places all over the UK. If you’re not sure where to go, why not see what information your local library has to offer. Libraries are always a good place to start!

National Writing Day is an annual celebration of writing and this year it took place on Wednesday June 26th which is when entries opened for Wild About Writing.

National Writing Day aims to encourage everyone - individuals, schools, libraries, writing groups and all organisations - to experience the joy of writing creatively.

Find out more here https://www.nationalwritingday.org.uk

Everyone has a story to tell - what’s yours?

National Writing Day is a collaborative initiative between First Story and partner arts and literacy organisations across the UK. It is supported by Old Possum’s Practical Trust and Arts Council England.

How To Write A Winning Story

Wild About Writing is about having fun and enjoying writing. This year’s competition is now closed, but if you enjoy writing we hope you’ll still find these tips and ideas helpful.

A message from
Francesca Armour-Chelu,
one of our judges

I’m so delighted to be involved in ‘Wild about Writing’ and want to share some of my top-tips with you all.

So, my first practical piece of advice for children wanting to write, is to write every day, however little time you have. Writers usually aren’t paid until they have a book to sell, so although some writers are rich enough to be able to write full time many aren’t. When I was writing ‘Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero’ I was still working two jobs and had two small children so I wrote in the scraps of time left over from that. Eventually all those little bits of work added up and became my story. You don’t need fancy equipment or matching stationery, the best computer or a year’s holiday; grab a pen now and write a few sentences and you’ll be on your way.

There are lots of really useful writing tips out there, and lots of theories, but no one can teach you how to write - they can only tell you how they do it. I always see my characters first and worry about the plot later, so don’t worry if you can’t magic up stories. The single best tip I ever had to create character was this; imagine your main character has a secret which is stopping them from being happy. This gives your story an immediate energy and drive. In ‘The Butterfly Circus’ I have a brilliant trapeze artist and her secret is she’s terrified of heights so the plot unfurls as her problem is resolved. By the way; it doesn’t have to be a secret fear…it can be something your character hates or loves

Why not try these simple starters yourself using this method? Take the circus as your world because it is already populated with interesting, distinct characters; you could have a knife-thrower who’s scared of getting cut, a clown who doesn’t like children, a strongman in love with the tightrope-walker - who is always looking down on him! It also helps to ‘trip’ your audience up; people expect a strongman to be tough…so make your strongman a big softie with pictures of puppies pinned to his caravan wall!

If you’re still stuck for ideas try ‘The Literacy Shed’ run by Rob Smith (@redgierob). This incredible resource is chock full of amazing videos and story prompts… but do check with Mums and Dads that you can use it as some of the videos are a little unsettling! (my daughter loves it though!).

Finally, try to read as much as you can; go to your library where books are free. Even if you aren’t a member (although they are also free to join) you can stay all day. Find out what you like reading, what you hate, what makes you laugh, feel sad…or bored. You will start to understand good writing. And read everything; comics, non-fiction, picture books, novels. But remember; you probably won’t find the book you really want to read; that’s the book you’re about to write.

Lastly-good luck. If you’re involved with ‘Wild about Writing’ you’re already half way there
because writing is about being passionate about stories as we all are here…the other half is sheer hard work and never giving up

Starting Tips from James Mayhew, one of our judges

I think the questions I get asked most often are – Where do you begin? How did you start? Where do you get your ideas from?

All of these are hard to answer because every story is a slightly different process. I don’t have a formula. Some stories appear all at once, others come in pieces like a jigsaw, and have to be assembled.

So, how do I begin? Well very often I draw.

I love looking at art, and also I look at the real world and sketch. But mostly I draw from my imagination, in a sketchbook. I start by drawing characters. Often animals but not always, and they often become people later. I imagine clothes for them (costume is such a big part of character), what their names are and the sort of house they live in. I imagine their family, their fears and joys. I imagine when they lived too, often a time in the past. I try drawing them in different positions, even creating little visual stories for them. Very often my stories grow from drawings.

When I was young I thought I was terrible at writing. I had found learning to read challenging when I first started school. But I loved illustrations, and kept returning to the library to look at pictures and dream… and that made me want to learn to read; I had to know what the pictures were about!

It took me a long time to gain confidence. Drawing stories really helped me do that. It gives me something to play with language for, to help me reconsider words and find exactly the right ones. It also really helps me get to know my characters, and plan their adventures.

Ideas & Writing Prompts

Nature is full of inspiration. Step outside; walk, run, ride, scoot, play and explore the wonderful world around you; see where it takes your imagination!

Here are some ideas to help get you started…

  • Take a notepad and pencil or pen with you when you go out for a walk or a bike ride and when you come to somewhere that you like the look of, a place that intrigues you or excites you, STOP, sit down (don’t forget to bring a blanket) and start writing there and then!
  • Explore the world with your ALL your senses, not just your eyes. When you’re out and about on the beach or in the forest, look closely at ground beneath your feet, touch the sticks and the stones, feel the sand run through your fingers, listen to the wind rustling through the leaves and grass, taste the salt in the air and smell the blossom and the flowers.
  • Take photos. Try to take some from unusual angles, try close-ups as well as wider landscapes. Back at home, choose a photo to inspire your story.
  • Write as if you are a bird soaring through the sky, an insect scurrying along the soil, a cat prowling through the grass, a tree standing still and steady in the ground or a fish darting underneath the water. What does your world look, sound, smell and feel like? What is important to you?
  • Choose any object you can see, now describe it; not just what it looks like but what it smells, sounds and feels like. If you don’t know for sure, use your imagination and make it up!
  • Imagine an outdoor space you know well, now think about how different it would look, sound and feel in the middle of the night?
  • What’s your favourite season? What makes that time of year special, interesting or exciting for you? Are there any particular places you like to go during that time of year? Why?

Sometimes it’s fun to just write, without thinking about it too much. Why not have a go at one of our 5 Minute Magic Writes. Remember, no editing, no changing things as you go along, just set a timer for 5 minutes, get set & GO:

  1. Write whatever comes in to your head (that’s right, anything!) whether it’s whole sentences or single words, whether it’s what you thought you’d write about or not, just don’t stop! There’s no theme and no right or wrong.
  1. Write single words only. Don’t try to make sentences, just write a list of words: maybe colours, objects, names, adjectives, feelings, places, anything, but only single words. Try to keep going for the whole 5 minutes.
  2. Write the word NATURE, like this:

N
A
T
U
R
E

Now write a single word starting with each letter. You can try the same with: ADVENTURE, STORY, WORLD, ANIMALS, ESCAPE

  1. Choose one of the photos on this website. Now, imagine you live in that world and write about it

There were 12 free Wild About Writing Story Workshops this summer, each one held in a different library, but these events have now come to an end.

We had a great time getting creative at Halesworth Bookshop on Thursday 8th August.  Francesca Armour-Chelu, author of The Butterfly Circus and the Fenn Halflin books gave our budding young wild writers lots of hints and tips about writing their own stories. If you missed it, make sure you check out Francesca’s advice in the ‘HOW TO WRITE  A WINNING STORY’ section of this website and why not join us at one of our Story Workshops instead? They’re all being held at libraries so check out the dates and times and come along if you can!

Contact Us

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask;

About Us

Wild About Writing is organised and run by Dramatic Impact. We are a husband-and-wife team living in Halesworth, Suffolk with our two sons. We love stories, we love nature and we are very excited about helping as many children as possible to get (quite literally) Wild About Writing!

Wild About Writing is more than just a short story writing competition. It’s an invitation to children and their families to get outside, to explore and enjoy the amazing natural world around them and to use that experience as a jumping off point for writing a story. We hope that taking part will help children see the countryside in a new light as well as giving them a chance to find the fun in writing for pleasure.

Wild About Writing is just one of the things that Dramatic Impact does. We produce all sorts of exciting, engaging, often theatrical events and experiences that entertain, and inspire.

Together we have a wealth of experience in the creative arts including theatre, radio, live events and writing. Having worked in London and further afield, we now enjoy living and working in East Anglia and particularly love taking inspiration from the beautiful Suffolk countryside and stunning heritage coast.

Harvey is an actor, storyteller and presenter with a particular flair for creating comedy characters. For many years he devised and delivered workshops at the V&A National Theatre Museum in London and for the Ambassadors Theatre Group. More recently has worked as a roleplayer, storyteller and drama practitioner across the East Anglian region, including work for the Norfolk Museum Service, Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, Orford Castle and the award-winning Time & Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth.

Louise’s passion is writing, although her background also encompasses theatrical tour and themed event production. She was part of the Sony Award winning team at the digital radio station Oneword where she developed, wrote and produced a weekly children’s radio programme. An experienced copywriter with a degree in History from Cambridge University she particularly enjoys researching, developing ideas for live events, creating bespoke resources and writing short stories. Find out more about Dramatic Impact here

Teachers & Schools

As part of the Wild About Writing project we’ve developed a teaching resource, with accompanying worksheets, to help you encourage your children to get wild and get writing! It’s designed to ensure you tick some curriculum boxes while your children enjoy getting inspired by nature and writing some great stories. Although the competition is now closed, we hope you’ll still find these resources useful and interesting. 

Download the resource notes and worksheets here:

Teaching Resource_GET WILD, GET WRITING

Worksheet01_BEFORE YOU GO WILD

Worksheet02_GO WILD WITH WORDS

Worksheet03_WILD ABOUT CHARACTERS

Worksheet04_WILD ABOUT PLOT

We hope you find this resource useful.
We’d love to know how you get on with it, so please email louise@dramatic-impact.co.uk with any feedback, thank you.