Author in residence Day 11 – Your Story is Our Story

Students in Years 5 and 6 have developed some amazing characters for their stories and today we worked on getting those characters into trouble to create lots of action in their stories.

Students identified their character’s worst fear and brainstormed ideas about how to bring that fear into their stories to create conflict. We also worked on giving characters a problem that gets worse and worse through the course of the story.

Year 4 students had lots of questions for me about Eddy and how I created him and we worked on creating a whole new Eddy adventure where Chewy rabbit gets lost. They had many fabulous scenarios for what might have happened to him.

Students had also created fabulous milk cartons for their missing characters and they had some great ideas about why their characters might have gone missing and what happens next in their story.

In the last session, I worked with a talented group of writers and illustrators who have volunteered to be the editorial committee to design and produce the anthologies for years 4-8 as well as other publicity materials.

Some members of our editorial and marketing committee hard at work.

The day finished with a staff PD for Years 3 and 4 which involved how to engage reluctant and able writers.

Another fabulous day.


Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.

Developing Setting and Making it Active in Your Story – a free online resource for teachers

The Your Story is Our Story project continues!

As I wasn’t able to be in the classroom because of the Covid-19 lockdown in Victoria, staff at Yarrawonga College thought it might be helpful to have a video on setting for their online classes for Years 4-8.

They wanted me to talk about the benefits of choosing a setting you are familiar with, so you can authentically describe it, how I use setting in my books, and how to make characters active in the setting and not just create an information dump of setting details.

I wanted to use images of the local area in my video because I wanted them to be familiar and relatable to students.

On my exercise walk, I took out my phone and snapped a few photos. The sun was shining as I wandered around Yarrawonga, but the streets and parks were eerily silent.

I hope they will have fun making the amazing characters they have created active in their settings.


I know there are lots of schools and writers being impacted by COVID and lockdowns so I’ve uploaded the SETTING video to Youtube and my website as a free resource for anyone wanting to teach or develop their own settings.

The video is available from my website at or via Youtube


Thanks to Creative Victoria and Creative Learning Partnerships for making this program possible.


My rebuilt kitchen bench

Recently I accidentally poured boiling water on my timber bench top. It buckled and warped and bits of timber fell off. I had to take all the pieces off, glue them down again, sand them, putty the gaps and apply several coats of varnish.

At the time it struck me that this whole process was like a metaphor for what I was going through with my current work in progress.

I have written the first draft of my YA psychological thriller, but at the moment it’s just a series of actions on paper – a plot expanded into 60,000 words. It’s telling a story, but it’s not really showing one – it’s not going to draw the reader into the main character’s world – at least, not yet.

I need to pull my manuscript apart and re-glue it so that the plot is stronger and the conflict is more powerful. I need to fill in the missing bits and to polish it till it shines.

If you read my blog post, 2012 – The Year of Possibilities and Learning, you’ll recall that one of my major goals for this year was to learn  – to hone my writing skills. Writing is a lifelong apprenticeship and I don’t believe you ever stop learning. This was confirmed for me at last year’s LA conference when I saw bestselling authors sitting in on the workshops of other bestselling authors.

Molly goat goes camping

In pursuit of my ‘learning goal’, I started 2012 by doing an Active Setting course with Mary Buckham – and it was amazing. Setting has never been one of my strong points. It has always been something I put in my work to help the reader visualise where they were, but thanks to Mary, I realised that setting has to do so much more.

It has to:

  • orient the reader in the story.
  • evoke feelings, images and emotions for the reader. In other words, have sensory detail.
  • show character
  • be part of  the conflict in the story
  • how back story
  • reflect the main character’s point of view
  • show the emotions of the main character in response to conflict and action

I’m feeling so inspired after doing Mary’s course.

With my new understanding of setting, I believe my writing is so much better:)

Scene from Chapter 9 of my WIP


Someone was definitely following me.

After the movies we headed to the Pancake Parlour and ordered our usual short stack and a thick shake.

Next we had a game of chess, another routine instigated by Jess. She  was a whizz at chess, so Steve and I always teamed up against her, but  we still never won. We lived in hope that it might happen one day.


As we walked through the darkened street, the half moon flicked a  Hansel and Gretel path through the trees.

A moth fluttered past my ear.  As I shook my head, the rustle of my hair seemed amplified.  My fear caught between the strands. I stopped and the footfalls behind me stopped too. I resisted the urge to glance around.

“Come on.” Jess pulled me towards the Pancake Parlour and we ran  

As we escaped the cool air, our breath came in dragon bursts, like smoke.
Jess took her usual seat in front of the chess table. Steve and I  
squashed in together on the other side of the wooden booth.

What have you learned recently that’s going to change the way you write?

I’d love you to share with us in the comments section of this post.


Don’t forget, if you’d like feedback on 150 words of your manuscript, send it to me, Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au For more information, check out Friday Feedback

Happy writing:)







Lately I have been thinking a lot about story atmosphere and how it can draw the reader into the world of your story.

It’s all those things that come together to make the reader feel a certain way about the characters and what’s happening to them.

Atmosphere makes a story compelling and hard to put down. It adds another dimension for the reader. It gives them a feeling of being part of the scene.

So what are the things that make up atmosphere?

These are the things I’ve thought of. If you have some other suggestions, please feel free add them to the comments section of this post.


  • Mood of the characters
  • Emotions that characters are feeling. Are they happy, sad, scared, worried? How do they show this in their speech and body language?
  • Actions of characters – how do they respond to the situation?
  • Time of day – lighting, temperature etc.
  • Setting detail about the location of the scene – where and when – sounds and colours
  • Situation the characters find themselves in
  • Who is in the scene? Which characters, and what is their place in the story? Are the antagonist and protagonist in the scene? Is the hero under threat? How big is this threat? How much is at stake?
  • Pauses/beats between action
  • Imagery
  • language
  • rhythm

Atmosphere is part of the bigger picture. The language you use has to evoke a feeling or mood. It has to create a strong sensation for the reader.

Think about the way your character speaks, the language they use, the beats in between. Their diction. This will reflect how they are feeling…their reactions to what happens.

Plots can be tension filled, characters can engage me, but it’s the atmosphere that a writer creates that leaves me with a feeling or sensation, long after I’ve closed the final page of a book.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you have any other tips on creating atmosphere please feel free to share them in the comments section of this post.

Happy Writing:)


P.S. NaNoWriMo starts in November and I have plans to write a 50,000 word YA novel for the month. Wish me luck:) I’ll be sharing the journey with you on this blog. If you’re doing NaNo, best of luck to you too. Have fun and shout out if you feel like you need some encouragement. Maybe I’ll see you in the NaNosphere.


Today we’re very lucky to have WA author, Lara Morgan visiting Tuesday Writing Tips as part of her blog tour to celebrate the release of Genesis, the first book in The Rosie Black Chronicles.

The Rosie Black Chronicles is a futuristic fantasy series set in Perth 500 years into the future after the world has been severely affected by climate change.

Rosie is a great character with a compelling story. Today Lara is here to talk about how she created her futuristic world.


By Lara Morgan

Dystopia: an imaginary place that is depressingly wretched. (Penguin English Dictionary)

This is the word that defines a high percentage of the worlds we read and write about in science fiction today. And it’s certainly not a new idea.

Aldous Huxley’s classic 1930s novel, Brave New World, could arguably have been said to have started it all and many others have been creating different versions of horrifying futures for Earth ever since. We actually seem to revel in it – and I have to say I am hardly different. I love a good dystopian world. In fact, being a teenager in the 80s when the Cold War was scarier than the idea of Armageddon has well and truly immersed me in it.

So when it came to creating the world of The Rosie Black Chronicles it was a given that it was not going to be filled with flying cars and Jetson style homes. I wanted a world that reflected the mistakes we can all see our species making right now: global warming, rising sea levels, refugees and a dwindling water and food supply.

I wanted grit, hardship and a powerful global government that was more Big Brother than friendly caretaker. But since I also saw programs like Lost in Space when I was a pre-teen and really enjoy a good space opera, I also wanted space ships and a colony on Mars.

I wanted all of it, which of course meant I got to do that one thing writers that all love. I had to read. A lot.

I read climate change books, space exploration books, articles on futuristic cities, predictions by scientists, books on quantum physics and black holes, a lot of books on Mars and terraforming, even books on societal collapse, basically anything that related even slightly to my idea of this futuristic world.

I also spent hours online searching sites, such as NASA and Gliese 581d – a ‘super-Earth’ that’s 20.3 light years away. And, yes, I do now know what the speed of light is, but I’m not going to boast by telling you (299,792.458 km per second). Ok I couldn’t help it, but the point is to create a futuristic world naturally you do have to do a lot of research and then you end up using very little of it because shoving in expository lumps about how the fusion drive in the spaceship works would bore your readers to death.

You just need to know how it works so it feels real when you mention it once. Yes I said once. You read three books, invented a spaceship drive that sounded vaguely plausible and didn’t disregard the laws of physics and it comes up in one paragraph in your book. Welcome to creating a futuristic world.

With that said here are my tips for future world creation:

  1. Research – of course this is obvious, but make sure you don’t just look for the big obvious items, which for me were spaceships, mars colonies and global rising sea levels, also pay attention to the small things. I researched housing design and transport systems, future farming practices and asked questions like: would cotton still be around in my world? The devil is in the detail is an apt cliché when writing.
  2. Take a scientist’s idea of a futuristic element and customise it to suit your world – there are so many incredible ideas being published by experts in their fields, from transportation and building to space travel and more, that it makes a lot of sense to have a look at what is being said and see if it would fit into your world. I was particularly excited to read about clothes being implanted with biological elements that would make fabrics respond to the environment, so I took it a step further and thought about how biological elements could be added to machinery.
  3. Respect the laws of physics, – for my world creation I tried to be as careful as my knowledge would allow in terms of having my imagined technology obey the laws of physics.  Sci fi readers are mostly pretty cluey and have some idea about these things so unless you show from the outset that this is a world where anything goes, it pays to be mindful of things like gravitational force etc.
  4. Make it logical to your world – when you create your world think about all the elements you’re putting in there and if it seems cohesive and believable.  For example, it would be very odd for a people to have faster than light travel in their space ships, but still be using fossil fuels to get around on the ground, unless you can provide a very good reason why.

I hope you have found Lara’s tips helpful. You can visit Rosie at

Happy writing:-)


Find out more about Rosie Black and win a copy of Genesis at Lara’s blog:

Lara’s blog tour is stopping at all these great blogs.

Oct 11 Who is Rosie Black? (that’s my other blog)

Oct 12 Writing tips on creating a futuristic world.

Tuesday Writing Tips (that’s here)

Oct 13 The Publishing Process

Oct 14 Writing YA.

Writing a Fantasy Series

Oct 15     Interview

Oct 16 Interview

Oct 17 Writing sci fi

Oct 18 Heroines in YA

Oct 19 The Boy in this story; creating male characters in heroine driven YA.

Rosie Black’s past & future

Oct 20 Interview