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Really Useful Links for Young Writers

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Paul FitzSimons

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I have a confession to make – I’ve been calling myself a writer now for about eight years (in my own head anyway, to the world around five) and, up to today, I’ve never been to Listowel for the Writers’ Week. I know. Bow your head in shame, I hear you say. But, as you might have guessed, that is about to be remedied – as I’m writing this, I’m on Leg 1 of 3 (two trains and a bus) and will be arriving in the Kerry town this afternoon.

But my second confession of the day is that I’m actually not, unfortunately, going to be attending many of the festival events taking place over the next five days. But it’s for an honourable reason, I promise.

I will, in fact, be part of a group running three workshops in writing for teenagers. These are being facilitated by the creative writing centre for children and teenagers, Fighting Words.

Fighting Words was established by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love after Roddy visited 826 Valencia, a creative writing centre for students in San Francisco. Fighting Words’ mission is help students of all ages develop their writing skills and explore their love of writing by providing story-telling workshops for primary school groups, and creative writing workshops for secondary students. These all happen at their bespoke centre on Russell Street, beside Croke Park and are offered free of charge. They also run seminars, workshops and tutoring for adults.

With a small permanent staff, a lot of the tutoring and assisting is done by volunteers, of which there are over 400.

Fighting Words has a brilliant website which, not only tells us what happens at the centre and gives us some examples of the masterpieces that are created there, but it also shows us that the greatest emphasis at Fighting Words is fun. And looking at this website recently made me wonder what online facilities there are out there, encouraging young people to write.

If you’re a young writer who’d like to get your writing out in the big bad world, kidpub.com is definitely worth checking out. For free, you can read what others have published, go on the writers’ forum, find out what events are happening, buy books by other young writers and find out how to get your own book published. And for a low one-off membership, you can publish your own stories on kidpub.com as well as add comments to stories that you’ve read, enter writing contests, add the next paragraph to their ‘Never Ending Stories’, get your own KidMUD character and find out how to have loads of fun writing.

If you’re (or your kids are) aged 8 to 13, the Stone Soup writing magazine is for you (or them). Established in 1973, Stone Soup is a leading publisher of children’s writing and art. Long a fixture in schools, libraries, and the homes of children ages 8 to 13 who love to read and write, Stone Soup is a rare resource that broadens kids’ interests. It challenges, motivates, and stimulates them to engage with reading, writing, and art. On the magazine’s website, you can view a sample issue and, of course, subscribe to the magazine as well as read the blog, submit writing for publication and buy back issues and souvenirs in the Stone Soup store.

The youngwriters.co.uk website does pretty much what-it-says-on-the-tin (please excuse the cliche), offering activities and games, advice, resources and competitions for young writers as well as useful information for parents and teachers for encouraging and helping kids to write. You can also subscribe to their regular newsletter. At the moment, the website is telling us all about the Childrens’ Book Week happening later this year.

If you’re more of a young-reader than a writer but you’d like to share your opinions of the books you’ve read, you should definitely think about becoming a book-reviewer. Babbleabout.co.uk, in association with the publisher Random House, offers ‘Little Babblers’, an online location for young readers to review some of their favourite books (and maybe some they weren’t so keen on). The website offers plenty of advice on how to write a review and has some links to where we can read other reviews written by kids. And maybe writing a review might spur you on to write your own story.

Lastly, The Anorak Press is an independent kids publishing house established in 2006 by proud Mum Cathy Olmedillas, formerly of 90s lifestyle bibles The Face and Sleazenation. It publishes Anorak Magazine five times a year, which is sold all around the world. Although it’s unclear whether they accept writing submissions from children, the brilliant stories and vibrant illustrations will definitely inspire any young person to be creative, be it in writing or art.

 Children do not give up their innate imagination, curiosity, dreaminess easily. – R. D. Laing


Dems Fighting Words…

Fighting Words is a creative writing centre for children and teenagers in Russell Street in Dublin.

“Fighting Words helps students of all ages to develop their writing skills and to explore their love of writing.”



Young At Heart.

Young Writers aim to encourage young people to engage in creative writing.

“We have worked with schools, parents and young writers for over 20 years.”



For Kids By Kids.

Creative writing website for kids, created in 1995.

“KidPub was created as a safe, fun place for kids to improve their writing skills by sharing their stories, poems, reviews, and other creative writing with a worldwide audience.”



What Kind Of Soup Is That?

Stone Soup is a writing magazine for writers aged eight to thirteen.

“Stone Soup is a rare resource that broadens kids’ interests. It challenges, motivates, and stimulates them to engage with reading, writing, and art.”



Be a Babbler.

This program, supported by publisher Random House, encourages the young reader to become a book reviewer.

“Here’s your chance to get blown away by a good book and then write about it.”



Are You An Anorak?

An independent kids publishing house, issuing five issues of its magazine a year.

“Anorak is all about a child’s world from fashion to stories, culture to science and sport to food.”



And don’t miss The Caterpillar magazine for young readers, new from the editors of The Moth, all the details are on our Front the Front Row blog.

About the author

(c) Paul FitzSimons

Paul FitzSimons is a screenwriter and novelist and has written the novel ‘Burning Matches’ and a number of scripts for film and TV. He has worked as a storyline writer on RTE’s ‘Fair City’. His short stories are published in ‘Who Brought The Biscuits’ by The Naas Harbour Writers. Paul likes crime thrillers, good coffee and Cadbury’s chocolate. He doesn’t like country-and-western music or people who don’t indicate on roundabouts.

Paul also runs the Script Editing service Paul | The | Editor.


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