Knowledge and skills
- Reading widely
- Discussing books
- Building on others’ ideas
Creating great stories is a skill that we can all develop. We tapped into the imagination of Peter Dixon, author of Space Story, and tried to extract some of his top-secret techniques for writing.
SS: Hello Peter, how are you?
PD: I’m well thanks. It’s been a bit cold this year, so I’ve been indoors with plenty of time for writing in a nice, warm room. Although, you don’t have to stay indoors to write. There’s nothing like getting out and watching people.
SS: People watching is a good technique then?
PD: Definitely. Everyone is a character and looks like they might be up to some adventure. Down my street we have three spies, a Russian cosmonaut and the tallest lady in the world (who hides her height by bending double in long dresses!). We don’t of course, but that’s the great thing about your imagination. People can be whatever you want them to be.
SS: Where else do you get your ideas for writing?
PD: The usual places really: rusty tins and funny faces, pretty gardens and ugly places. Dogs and cats and kangaroos, people’s socks and people’s shoes. And, as I say, just the people around you. They’re always the best characters. Teachers always seem like people who are having secret adventures, don’t they? Every child wants to know what goes on behind the mystery of the staffroom door. If only they knew it was just hard work and lots of coffee! ‘Down my street we have three spies, a Russian cosmonaut and the tallest lady in the world.’
SS: How did you get into writing?
PD: I’ve always written. Even when I was at school and I didn’t like the reading and writing the teachers set us, I’d be writing stories at home (in secret). I never showed them to anybody. It’s important to make sure children know their imaginations are as important as the rules of writing.
SS: What do you like reading?
PD: When I was younger and younger and younger, I would enjoy comics like The Beano and The Dandy. The clever kids were all reading ‘sensible’ comics like Eagle. But I just read the fun ones.
SS: Do you have any good tips for young writers?
PD: If you want to be a writer then you must first learn the great secret of being a writer. The secret that nobody else in the universe knows but I’m going to share with you all now. Are you ready?
SS: We certainly are!
PD: Take a pen and some paper and start writing down anything that you make up in your head. That’s it. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s something more special or privileged than that. And have fun!
SS: We will, thanks Peter Dixon! Goodbye.
PD: Cheerio Springboard Stories.
Space Story: Miss Wacky's Day Out
Everyone wants to be in Miss Wacky’s class – she is a-ma-ZING! She’s really good at surprises. She does somersaults and conjuring tricks. She always has something up her sleeve. But absolutely no one expected the biggest and most amazing surprise of all....
Author, poet, performer and educationalist Peter Dixon is a former primary school teacher and senior university lecturer. He is also the author of many poetry books including The Colour of my Dreams and The Tortoise Had a Mighty Roar.
Use alongside the ‘Explore the story’ lesson from the Space topic.