Tips on writing fiction

Write from the heart and write what you know and care about

Make sure your story has a strong hook; you should be able to distil the essence of your story in a couple of sentences.

Don't be afraid to take a risk with your subject material

Develop your voice; make us laugh, make us cry

Develop your characters; the best storyline won't work if the reader doesn't care about the characters or what happens to them

Visit your local bookshop and library regularly to see which titles are popular. Read the bestsellers and the prize winners

Proof read your work thoroughly before submitting it

Follow the submission guidelines to the letter

Tips on writing picture books

Know your audience. The core age for a picture book is 3-5 years, so make sure your subject matter and choice of language reflect this.

The best stories deliver a deeper underlying message in a reassuring or funny way.

Great humour and clever word play is always a winner. Repeated join-in phrases and sound effects are great to read along with. Funny and silly is good!

Your text needs to deliver a full story arc including set-up of characters, plot, action, reaction and satisfying conclusion - but in just 400-600 words. So make every word count!

If you do choose to write in verse, your rhyming must be spot-on. Remember Julia Donaldson will be your competition!

Strong titles that give a real sense of the theme and atmosphere of the book are crucial selling tools.