“My story-telling career began at age ten!”
Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialised tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favourites in the cast of characters.
Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to
Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and
After winning the Emma Smith Scholarship to finance her university studies, Fiona Ingram graduated from the
Creative writing for kids is one of the most challenging and fulfilling aspects of the classroom. Many teachers who are not writers may struggle to explain the nuts and bolts of writing in relation to the imaginative and creative process involved in making a story. Children may also not grasp the solid hard work involved in creating the structure and plot of a good story. Here are some easy classroom tips to make the creative writing process both successful and fun.
Writing can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life. There are many reasons a person decides to write: to share their life’s experiences, to tell a good story, to express the feelings and situations of others … the list is endless. Some people even write just for fun. I wrote my book because I visited
Any good story is composed of two important elements:
1) a really gripping plot
2) realistic, believable characters.
· How To Choose a Great Story Topic. You may think, “But what can I write about?” Write about what you know best, or what excites you, or what you enjoy. You’ll find that when you are really keen on something—it can be an activity, a place, an event, or a person (real or imaginary)—it becomes easier to write. Do you love reading about faraway exciting places? Then research a place you find interesting and set your story there. Do you enjoy mysteries? Think about something that’ll keep people guessing. Are you good at a skill or a sport? Set your story around a character with those abilities.
· Plot Comes First. What comes first? Everyone has their own ideas but I believe the plot should come first. What’s the point of great characters if they sit around and don’t achieve very much. So, step one, write your plot down in a few words (that’s all you need). “My story is about … who manages to … and goes on to ….” Example from my book: two cousins go to
· How to Construct your Storyline. Structure is very important otherwise you’ll end up writing away like crazy but forget some vital detail here and there, and your story will fall to pieces. Sit down and draw your storyline—remember, you have already written it down in a few words. You may not stick to it exactly, but it’s important to map out where the story is going. You don’t want to give away the plot too soon, or tell the reader everything all at once. So begin with a simple 3-point system: the Beginning (your hero appears—what is he doing? What does he want to achieve?); the Middle (something will happen to him and he has to …?); the Ending (your hero resolves the situation). From those three vital points you will fill in your other plot points—how did… why did… what happens next…
· Make Your Characters as Interesting as Possible. Tip: take them from real life examples. You could write about someone like yourself, or else model the characters on friends at school, teachers, or other people you know. The dialogue between your characters is also important because that’s one place to develop the plot line. Their interaction will reveal the chain of events as the characters work out various situations. Don’t forget to break your dialogue with various activities so that readers don’t get bogged down in lots of talking but no action.
· Make Your Information to the Reader as Interesting as Possible: You can do this by weaving it into the story. Don’t say that it’s cold. Get your character to shiver because he left his jacket at home. You can set the scene around your characters by using adjectives and adverbs to enhance your descriptions and actions but don’t overdo it. The reader is also going to use his or her imagination, so don’t overload your writing with too many descriptions. At the same time, your reader is not in your head so you have to help the reader along by using your five senses to engage theirs: sight, sounds, touch, taste, smell. Is your hero in a hot, exotic climate? He (or she) will be sweating, the sounds will be different, the taste of the food unusual etc. Is your heroine (or hero) in a strange place – what is she experiencing e.g. confusion, anxiety, excitement or curiosity? You will create the environment for your readers so they appreciate exactly what the hero is experiencing.
· The Hard Part: if you love what you’re writing about, and you trust your imagination, then writing will be as fun and exciting as you can imagine. However, two important elements must never be forgotten: research and grammar.
Research will be necessary whether your story is set in the real world, or if it’s an imaginary, fantasy, or sci-fi land. Make notes before and during your writing process. Your heroes are likely to be around your own ages, so think about how they are going to get places and achieve things. If they are travelling, are they alone (not likely) and will they need assistance (possibly)? If they are in a foreign country then make sure your facts are accurate. How did they get there, who are they with, and how are they going to accomplish their task/challenge? If it’s a fantasy setting, then make sure you don’t lose track of your characters and the various places and items found in your fantasy world. Make your own research notes relevant to your fantasy land.
Grammar: spelling and grammar are very important otherwise your readers will never get through the first few pages. They’ll get bogged down in bad grammar and terrible spelling, so make sure you use your spelling and grammar check on your computer (if you’re using one) and your dictionary and style guide (if you’re writing by hand). In any case, you’ll have to check everything yourself because sometimes computers will accept a word that is spelled right, but is actually the wrong word for the sentence or context.
A final piece of advice: writing should be fun and exciting. Just enjoy yourself and let your imagination take you to places you only ever dreamed of…
Title: THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB
Author: Fiona Ingram
Publisher: iUniverse, #
Publication date: 1 December 2008
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, adventure, 262 pages (includes map and graphics).
Age group: 10-14
· The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was a Finalist in the Children’s/Juvenile Fiction category of the 2009
· Finalist in the Children’s Fiction section of the USA National Best Books 2009 Awards.
· It was also a Winner in the Preteen category of the 2009 Readers’ Favorites 2009 Awards.
· The book has just been nominated Number 2 in the Top 10 Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens and Teens in The Children’s & Teens Book Connection.
· It has also won a Silver medal in the Teen Fiction category of the 2010 Nautilus Book Awards.
· The book was a Finalist in the 2010 International Book Awards
Description: A thrilling adventure for two young boys, whose fun trip to
Book Synopsis: A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives two young South African tourists, Adam and Justin Sinclair, an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in
Added value: Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through
Purchase: The book is available internationally through Amazon.com and selected online book sites as well as Barnes & Noble.
About the Author: Fiona Ingram (B.A., Hons. (
Contact Fiona Ingram by email if you would like to review this book in
Email the Author: email@example.com
Some Professional Book Review Comments:
· The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is entertainment for readers up to around age fourteen and for those who wish they were fourteen again. It is at once adventure and history, art and architecture, humor and redemption, travel writing and social studies, and great fun.
Rating: Five stars
Reviewed by: Barbara Milbourn for Writers in the Sky firstname.lastname@example.org
WITS Web site: http://www.writersinthesky.com
· All I can say is, "Wow!" This is one of the most thrilling children's books that I have read in a long time. Author Fiona Ingram, who was born and educated in
Rating: Five stars
Reviewed by: Wayne Walker email@example.com
Stories for Children Magazine http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org
· The Secret of the Sacred Scarab by Fiona Ingram is a middle grade fiction book that reminded me why I fell in love with reading in the first place. The author has a great writing style, and she has a great sense of humor that shines through her writing. I think it’s a great testament to an author’s writing when the interest can be held of readers outside of the targeted audience. Ms. Ingram held my attention and made me reminisce about books that I read many years ago. If I had a child around age 9, up until age 13 or 14, I would thrust this book into their hands and encourage them to read it. It’s books like this that spark a love of reading.
Rating: 90 out of 100
Reviewed by: Trish Collins firstname.lastname@example.org
· Ingram has crafted a fascinating story of adventure. Ancient
Rating: Four Stars (out of Five)
Reviewed by Whitney Hallberg email@example.com
Foreword Literary Review Magazine www.ForeWordMagazine.com
· Once I started reading The Secret of the Sacred Scarab I never wanted to put it down, and I was ready to read it all over again as soon as I was done. If the first book in The Chronicle of the Stone series by Fiona Ingram is this superb, I hold out high hopes for future installments. I eagerly anticipate Book 2 in the series, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur!
Rating: Five Stars