Children’s author Cerrie Burnell has shared her top tips for writing a great story as she joins the panel of Amazon’s national short story competition. The competition is looking for a new young children’s classic inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and Cerrie joins the first UK storytelling laureate Taffy Thomas MBE on the panel.
A CBeebies presenter and author of multiple children’s books including the Harper series, Fairy Magic, Snowflakes, Ballet Dreams and Mermaid, Cerrie writes books that celebrate diversity and making a difference.
“I cannot wait to start reading this year’s batch of stories,” said Cerrie. “As a children’s author myself, I love a good read and am keen to see the stories the British public dreams up and—the idea of helping to find the next big British children’s author is just an added bonus!”
To inspire authors, Cerrie shares her top tips for a great children’s story:
I believe every child deserves to see their life represented by the power and beauty of story. When I was little lots of the books my mum read me were magical and captivating and a joy to listen to, but they weren't inclusive. I would love to see stories with characters from every community and culture. I think the most wonderful thing you can do as an aspiring writer is to think about what makes your life unique and weave that into a book. What's the story that only you can tell?
As someone who is profoundly dyslexic I couldn't read or write until I was ten. But I was still creating, still listening and absorbing the wonder from the stories I listened to. Saving up my favourite moments and quietly editing them together in my mind. When I finally began to write things down my spelling was almost unreadable, but I couldn't let a detail hold me back. Don't let spelling or grammar get in the way of your story, write it down, amend it later.
Keep reading and reading and reading and reading. Read when ever, where ever you can. I grew up in a home where my mum patiently read out load to me (for years) it's something that's never left me, I still remember the magic of those stories. The more you read, the more you set your imagination on fire and hone your craft. So in the words of Phillip Pullman: read like a Butterfly, write like a Bee.
UK-based authors should submit their A Christmas Carol inspired children’s stories of 1,000 words or less by 7 November for a chance to be professionally illustrated by esteemed artist Ian Beck and made available on the Kindle store around the world this festive season.
The competition is now open for entries. For more information and to enter, writers can visit www.amazon.co.uk/christmasonkindle.