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STORY WRITING HINTS AND TIPS FROM OUR EXPERT PANEL OF JUDGES

We are honoured this year to be joined by such a prestigious panel of judges for What's the Story? 2016.  Over the next few weeks we will be joined by some of our expert panelists who will be sharing with us where they get their creative literary inspiration, and sharing some hints and tips for our budding young story tellers!

This week we are joined by Sheila O'Flanagan, International Best-Selling Fiction/Young Adult Author.

sheila oflanagan

ABOUT SHEILA O'FLANAGAN.....

Sheila is an award winning international best-selling author of twenty novels and three short-story collections.  Her books have been translated into over 20 languages.  This year (2016) she will have her first children's book published.  Prior to becoming a full time writer, Sheila had a very successful career in the financial services industry.  She has been a director of Badminton Ireland and the Irish Sports Council.  She is currently a member of Fighting Words, and an Ambassador on behalf of the Women's Fund :  Community Foundation for Ireland.

We took five minutes with Sheila this week to ask her a few questions, and see what hints and tips she could share with those planning their creative writing entries for this year's competition.....

Q: SHEILA, BEFORE WE TALK ABOUT IMAGINOSITY'S WHAT'S THE STORY? COMPETITION, TELL US....DID YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE STORY AS A CHILD?

"I didn't have a 'favourite' story as a child, but I loved all of the contemporary children's authors of my era. I loved the stories of Enid Blyton, Elinor M Brent Dyer and Angela Brazil, but also adventure stories by authors like Malcolm Saville and Capt. WE Johns. I really enjoyed comic writing too, and my favourites were Richmal Compton who wrote the Just William books."

Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS THE CREATION OF AN IMAGINATIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR CHILDREN GROWING UP, PARTICULARLY IN THE EARLY YEARS?

"An imaginative environment helps you to experience emotions and events in the safety of your own head.  Stories bring you to places you haven't yet been and expose you to situations you haven't yet experienced.  They also most importantly help you to view actions and reactions from the point of view of other people and help you to be more empathetic person yourself!"

Q: HOW WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY IN CHILDREN?

"My mum encouraged it in me by reading with me, then asking me to tell her what might have happened next after the story was finished.  Nothing is better that reading to young children.  It gives them the time with their parents as they explore the story together and interact with the characters, as well as talking together about the choices that they make."

Q: AS AN AUTHOR, DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS TO PASS ON TO OUR YOUNG STORY MAKERS AS TO WHAT MAKES A GOOD STORY?

"For me, the most important part of the story is the characters.  It's important to make them believable no matter what the story setting is.  And, it's also important to enjoy writing about them - if you're not having a good time then the reader won't be either!"

Q: AND FINALLY, AS A NEW JUDGE ON THE IMAGINOSITY WHAT'S THE STORY? PANEL THIS YEAR, WHAT WILL YOU BE LOOKING FOR IN A WINNING ENTRY?

"I'll be looking for a young writer who has their own way of telling the story.  Even if the plot covers situations that have been written about before, a fresh way of telling it from someone who is confident in their own voice will always make it interesting!

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Check back soon as we will be joined weekly by other members of the 'What's the Story' 2016 judging panel who will be sharing hints and tips with those preparing their entries for this year's competition!

Good luck, and happy writing!

The Imaginosity Team

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