Friday, May 29, 2015

BUDDING WRITERS PROJECT / Lesson #2: How to write a truly Singaporean bestseller

Note: Here is this week’s story writing lesson. Enjoy!

Complete set:
Lesson #1: How to create an awesome character for your story
Lesson #2: How to write a truly Singaporean bestseller
Lesson #3: How to excite readers and keep them hooked
Lesson #4: How to boost your imagination and get really creative

Sign up for this year’s Budding Writers Project by Marshall Cavendish Education. There’s a link at the end of this post.

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by Don Bosco

Hey there, all you creative wizards and imaginative pixies! May your stories spread far and wide like magic dust, bringing joy to young hearts everywhere.

This week, I’ll show you how to turn your personal hometown experiences into fascinating stories that will enchant and delight your readers.

When we’ve lived in one place for a long time, we might forget to appreciate all the lovely things that make it special. But a good story can awaken our hearts and inspire us to see our hometown in a new light.

It’s great to read stories about other places around the world. But when a book takes you on an adventure around your own hometown, that can feel like the most magical reading experience in the world.

For this year’s Budding Writers Project, stories with a strong local flavour will earn bonus points. These three tips should give you a head start.

TIP #1: Make it yummy
Every city has its own unique food experiences, whether it’s the tasty treats that are cooked and sold along bustling alleys, or the elaborately prepared dishes served in grand restaurants. You can’t think of your hometown without also remembering its signature flavours.

One way to celebrate the place is to include lots of references to the local food. For example, if your character is trying to solve a mystery in Chinatown and she’s hungry, she might get distracted by the sight of a chicken rice stall. Singaporeans love chicken rice! We’ll totally understand if your character needs to take a short break and treat herself to a plate of roasted chicken rice with chilli and ginger sauce. Yum-yum!

TRY THIS: The next time you’re out for a meal, spend five minutes examining your food. Try to describe it in as many interesting ways as you can. Keep a journal and compile all these descriptions. Use the more interesting ones in your story. If you have an Instagram account, you could post photos of your favourite local dishes too.

TIP #2: Take us to a special place 
When we visit a new city, it’s always nice to have someone there show us the more interesting local spots. If they know the place well, they’ll be able to share all sorts of entertaining anecdotes about it. And after some time, it might even start to feel as if we know the area intimately too.

Your own story will have a strong local flavour if you write about a real location that’s important to you. Perhaps the neighbourhood where you grew up, or your favourite playground where you still hang out with your friends. The strong emotional connection will come through in your writing, and your readers will enjoy this.
TRY THIS: Pick a location in Singapore that you know very well. Write down three things you love about it, and why. Then see how you can work these points into your story. Make your descriptions so accurate and vivid that when someone reads your story, he feels as if he has actually visited that place with you.

TIP #3: Go back in time
One way to honour your hometown is to bring its past to life. Your readers will be charmed if you can write about an event from local history in a way that’s fresh and surprising.

Insert your character into a familiar scenario from Singapore’s past, and allow her to respond to the situation in her own way. How is she affected by the events? How does she react? Will her actions change Singapore’s history? In good ways or bad?

And what if there’s a time machine involved too? That would be so cool!

TRY THIS: Explore the National Library's Singapore Infopedia website. It has all sorts of intriguing entries about local history, from personalities to myths and legends and events, all thoroughly researched and easy to read. See if you can find at least three entries that fascinate you, and work this information into your story.

Next lesson: How to capture your reader’s attention in a flash

Lesson #1: How to create an awesome character for your story
Lesson #2: How to write a truly Singaporean bestseller
Lesson #3: How to excite readers and keep them hooked
Lesson #4: How to boost your imagination and get really creative

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Sign up for the 14th Budding Writers Project here.

Join this year's Creative Camp at Bishan Public Library.
2 to 5 June 2015
For Primary 3 to 6 only
Free registration. Limited spaces available.
Click on images to enlarge. Or sign up at

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Don Bosco is the author of LION CITY ADVENTURES, published by Marshall Cavendish Editions. It's a Singapore exploration book with fiction segments where you help to solve mini-mysteries. It'll be in bookstores in June 2015. Come join the Lion City Adventuring Club and have fun discovering the marvels of Singapore! More information here. Read about the Lion City Adventuring Club here and here.