In our fifth guest blog by a past finalist, Kate Scott, who was featured in the first UV anthology back in 2008, talks about saying yes to changes and inspiration.
The Magic of Saying Yes
I have a good friend who has taken improv classes for years (‘improv’ being the obligatory shortening of ‘improvisation’ – those extra three syllables being presumably too taxing [or uncool] for those who have been initiated into the process’s dark arts).
As I understand it, taking improv classes involves being willing to writhe on the floor, stick chewing gum in your ear, or arrange chairs into endless representations of impromptu and entirely imaginary cars, airplanes or art sculptures. I am not brave enough to undertake any of those actions (On stage? With witnesses? The horror!) but there is one thing about improv that I do understand and try to emulate.
The one rule when improvising is that you say ‘yes’. Yes to all possibilities. Yes to all avenues. It’s essentially acting out the words ‘why not?’ (It’s also related to perhaps the most basic building blocks of storytelling, the ‘what if?’)
It was ‘why not’ that led me to enter the very first Undiscovered Voices competition.
I said ‘yes’ even though I had no idea (and no confidence) that entering my three chapters would get me anywhere. Where it got me was the most important ‘yes’ of my writing career to date – an inclusion in the Undiscovered Voices anthology. That in turn led to other yes’s (along with many, many no’s). That one yes is the main reason I (eventually) became a published author and a full-time writer.
Where it got me was the most important ‘yes’ of my writing career to date – an inclusion in the Undiscovered Voices anthology.
Holding ‘yes’, or at least, ‘why not?’ in your mind is also helpful when it comes to the editorial process. It particularly comes into its own when someone makes a radical suggestion about changing your story.
Your first instinct might be to say something along the lines of ‘You think I should give my superhero protagonist a flying-dog sidekick with a flatulence problem? You great, galumphing fool!’
But if you give it time and an open mind sometimes you’ll discover that you agree with them – and that they’ve just helped you to make an enormous improvement to your work. (Note: sometimes the suggestion is just that of a great, galumphing fool though. Not everyone likes flatulence in stories, even coming from a flying-dog sidekick.)
You don’t have to writhe on the floor or stick chewing gum in your ear to become a good writer – but you do have to say ‘why not’.
You don’t have to writhe on the floor or stick chewing gum in your ear to become a good writer – but you do have to say ‘why not’. You do have to take a chance on yourself. So take your writing, believe in it, and enter the UV2018 competition. Say yes. Because you never know, they might say yes too.
Submissions for UV2018 will open on 1st July 2017 and will close 15th August 2017. Why not sign up here for a reminder when submissions open?
Kate Scott has written over 25 children’s books (trade fiction, educational fiction and non-fiction) and over forty children’s television scripts. She is also a script editor and consultant for children’s film and television; a published/broadcast poet; and a playwright. Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights won a Lancashire Fantastic Book Award in 2015. Her latest children’s book, Giant, has been longlisted/nominated for two awards. Another standalone novel, Just Jack, comes out in 2018.
Agents: Eve White at Eve White Literary Agency (Books) and Jean Kitson at Kitson Press Associates (Scriptwriting)
Websites: www.evewhite.co.uk and www.kitsonpress.co.uk/