Tom Palmer's writing blog - How I write: how you write, Part Six autumn term
Posted by Tom Palmer
22 Nov 2011
Spies at schools
“I can’t tell you the name of the school in question, because it is probably the first school in the world to set up its own spy ring.”
I am getting some help with the writing of book two of my Squad series.
Every term, for the past four years, I have worked with children at a school in Basildon. The last ten books I’ve had published have been tested by the children there. They go through the early draft of each book and tell me what they think of it.
It’s been a huge help. I really think my books are better because of the feedback I’ve had from them. In one book – Killer Pass – I cut and rewrote the last quarter of the book because of what they said.
Now I am getting a different kind of help from them too.
I can’t tell you the name of the school in question because it is probably the first school in the world to set up its own spy ring. I am training the spy ring at the moment.
- To create false identities, which is a bit like making up characters for stories
- To interpret spy photographs and develop them into a narrative storyline
- To bug rooms in their school and to transcribe what they hear. A bit like creating dialogue
The similarity between what spies do and what authors do is striking. Spies observe people and places, make notes, do background research, work out what is going on and produce reports.
That’s sort of what authors do too.
We also train the children to do dead drops, live drops, observations and to tail someone without being spotted.
All this training is helping me to work out what appeals to children about spying, so I can make my books better.
It’s also helping the kids become better writers.
I blog about the Spy Ring every couple of weeks. My plan is to use all the activities we have done and create a writers’ pack for schools – on how to run your own spy ring. It should be out in May at www.tompalmer.co.uk.
Schools Network members can also download a classroom activity related to this blog entry. View.
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Blogs by the same author
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- Tom Palmer Euro 2012 blog, part three: Literacy begins at home in Blog by Tom Palmer
- Tom Palmer Euro 2012 blog, part two: Confessions of a school-visiting author in Blog by Tom Palmer
- Tom Palmer Euro 2012 blog, part one: Reading Euro 2012 in Blog by Tom Palmer