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Closing date for Writers Bureau Poetry and Short Story Competition extended to 9th July!

July 2nd, 2010

This week’s blog is a bit of a hotchpotch (or, so my dictionary tells me, a hodgepodge if you’re American or Canadian).

So to start with, if you love words, some useless facts!  An average six-year-old knows 9,000 – 13,000 words.  This rises to 40,000 – 50,000 by the time they reach their teens.  Though, as you’ve probably noticed, they only use a fraction of this on a daily basis.  According to Global Language Monitor a new word is created every 98 minutes and last year English acquired its one millionth words. (Though how they work this out is beyond me!)  So, if you’re sitting down to write that novel you’ve got lots of words to play with.

But what if you’re writing for children ?  You obviously need to take some care ensuring that the level of language you use (vocabulary and syntax) is suitable for the age range you’re targeting. We all have four vocabularies.  Listening is our largest – we often hear words that we can only understand in the context in which they are spoken.  Next comes speaking, followed by reading (again we sometimes guess at the meaning from the context).  The fourth is writing which is more precise and we have to think before putting pen to paper. A quick tip here:  when writing for children, if you need to consult a thesaurus, use one designed for children rather than the somewhat ponderous adult versions.

And finally, as a self-confessed Luddite, I couldn’t resist this quote from Joel Achenbach in The Washington Post that I saw recently in a writers’ magazine:

“The best feature of print is that it doesn’t interrupt you.  It doesn’t try to link you somewhere else.  It doesn’t talk back…Interactivity is a great virtue sometimes, but there are other times when you want to read a story that doesn’t try to heckle you…”

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