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What is good writing for children?
The children’s publishers will tell you they look for ‘good writing’. What exactly do they mean?

Before you send a story you have written to any publisher at all, your severest critic ought to be you vourself. To have a chance of succeeding in the competitive market of children’s fiction, you should constantly be aware, every single time you sit down at your word-processor, of the need to produce ‘good, original writing’. A difficult task, maybe, but one which hopefully we will help you to achieve.

To begin with, let us try to pin down exactly what publishers mean when they talk about ‘good writing’ for children. A useful starting point would be to take a look at some of the children’s books which won literary prizes last year. Reading these books is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways of: (a) finding out what individual publishers are publishing at the moment, and (b) learning a few tricks of the trade from well-established professionals. It goes without saying, of course, that slavishly copying the style and subject matter of a successful author is usually a recipe for disaster. Nor should you become downhearted after reading a particularly brilliant piece of work, and miserably think you will never be able to match up to those standards. Remember, overnight success is rare - most successful children’s authors will have struggled long and hard to learn their trade. Read these books as a critic; note down the things you enjoyed or admired, as well as areas where you feel there was possibly room for improvement. After all, nobody is perfect, not even a successful, prize-winning author.

Possibly the toughest challenge is right at the youngest end of the age range - the picture book. The would-be author/ illustrator is attempting to create an exciting story out of the narrow, limited, everyday world of a young child’s experience - not easy at all. The whole storyline has to be strong enough to keep the reader turning the pages, yet simple enough to fit into a few pages. Another problem for the new picture-book author is that it can seem that every subject and every approach has been done to death, with nothing new left to say. Add to this the fact that printing costs are high because of full colour illustrations, which means that the publisher will probably want a text that suits the international market to increase sales, and a novel for ten-year olds, with hardly any pictures at all, starts to look much more inviting.

You would be forgiven for wondering if there are any truly original plots left to impress publishers with. But remember that, in many ways, it is the writer’s own personal style, and intelligent handling of a subject that can change a familiar, overworked plot into something original and fresh. To illustrate this, read The Enchanted Horse by Magdalen Nabb. A young girl called Irina finds an old wooden horse in a junk shop, takes it home and treats it as if it was real. Soon it magically starts to come to life ... Sounds familiar? The magic object that comes alive is a storyline that has been used in hundreds of other children’s stories. So why does it succeed here? The answer is that Magdalen Nabb has created a strong, believable character in the lonely, unhappy heroine Irina, and the descriptions of her relationship with the wooden horse are poetic and touching.

So, to return to the question asked at the beginning: What exactly is ‘good writing’ for children? The answer is that it is writing which is fresh, exciting and unpredictable, and which gives a new and original angle on what might be a well- worn subject. But do not be put off if you feel that you simply cannot match up to all these requirements. While there is obviously no substitute for talent, and the ability to come up with suitable ideas, many of the techniques for improving and polishing your manuscript can be learned.

8. Why does the article advise people to look at prize-winning books?

A. to copy the author’s style

B. to realise what a high standard needs to be reached

C. to get an idea of what might be successful

D. to find out how to trick publishers

9. What do most successful children’s authors have in common?

A. They did not get depressed by early failures.

B. They have learned how to be critical of other authors’ work.

C. They find it easy to think of storylines that will sell.

D. They have worked hard to become well-known.

10. Why is the picture book the most difficult to write?

A. There is a limited range of subjects available.

B. Young children cannot follow storylines easily.

C. The pictures need to be exciting.

D. Children want to be able to read it quickly.

11.What looks ‘more inviting’ in line 54?

A.the international market

B. the increased sales

C. the novel for ten-year-olds

D. the type of pictures

12. The book about Irina is successful

A. because of the unusual way magic is used.

B. because of the way the character is described.

C. because the story has not been told before.

D. because the pictures bring the story to life.

13. What does ‘it’ refer to in line 68?

A. the storyline

B. the magic object

C. the horse

D. the children’s story

14. What conclusion does the writer of the text come to?

A. Anyone can learn to write a good story.

B. The subject matter is the most important consideration.

C. If you have natural ability, you can learn the rest.

D. Some published fiction is badly written.

15. Why was this text written?

A. to explain what kind of books children like to read

B. to give advice to people who want to write children’s fiction

C. to discourage new authors from being too optimistic

D. to persuade new authors to get away from old ideas

0 câu trả lời

You are going to read an article in which four athletes talk about what they eat.
For questions 1-10, choose from the athletes (A-D) The athletes may be chosen more than once.

Which athlete
enjoys cooking but finds the planning difficult? 1.
has to carry food with him when training? 2.
doesn’t find it easy to eat before an event? 3.
uses cooking as a way to relax? 4.
sometimes allows himself certain food as a reward? 5.
has seen a change in the diet of sports people? 6.
once made the wrong decision about the food he ate? 7.
says that people are unaware of what he actually eats? 8.
says knowing what and when to eat is critical? 9.
has had to change his diet with a change of sport? 10.

SPORTS DIETS

Four athletes talk about what they eat

A. Mark
When I’m cycling on my own I stuff my pockets with bananas and protein bars. On the longest rides
I’ll eat something every half an hour. For heavier training it’s physically impossible to get enough energy
from food alone, so you do rely on energy drinks. One development in sports nutrition since I’ve been
competing is the focus on the importance of protein. Cycling is much more weight-orientated than the
swimming I used to do, which means I need to eat differently now. Protein feeds the muscles but keeps
them as lean as possible. I’ve been an athlete for 20 years so healthy eating is normal for me, but that's
not to say I don’t get a tasty take-away meal from time to time. I’ve just learned to spot the meals that
will provide what I need, it’s simple things like steering clear of the creamy sauces and making sure I get
lots of veg.
B. Stefan
Everyone says: “As a runner you must be on a really strict diet. Do you only eat salad? Are you
allowed chocolate?” But that’s really not the case. I’ve got salad and vegetables in my shopping trolley
but there’s always some chocolate in there, too. I do most of the cooking at home, On the morning of a
competition, I get so nervous I feel really sick. I have to force myself to have something so I’ll have
enough energy to perform well. Sometimes I get those days where I don’t want to be so disciplined. You
think: ‘I’ve trained really hard, I deserve to have a pizza.’ It’s OK to have a little relapse every now and
then but I can’t do it every day or I’d be rolling round the track!
C. Guy
For a gymnast, a kilo can make all the difference. But if you don’t eat enough you’ll be a bit shaky
and weak. It’s all about eating the right amount, at the right time - two hours before you do anything,
Breakfast is fruit and if I’m a bit peckish, whole wheat toast and butter! I get to training for 12 pm, then
break after three hours for lunch - more fruit, a cheese and tomato sandwich. I’m back in the gym from 5
pm to 8 pm, then I go to my Mum’s for steak and vegetables or chicken and salad. I don’t tend to mix
carbs with meat late at night. I’m not the best cook, but I think it’s fun to do. I know how to make chicken
from my mum’s recipe, it just takes me a bit longer to get organized.
D. Tomas
It’s definitely possible to eat delicious food and be a professional swimmer. I’ve always loved food so
I’m not going to be obsessive because you can get what you need and still enjoy every bite. I’m not
really one for endless protein shakes and energy drinks. Before a training session I’d rather have a
banana. That’s not to say I’m perfect. At the world championships I got my feeding strategy wrong - and
I paid for it. For my sport it’s what you eat two days before the competition that makes the difference.
You have to “carb load” - eat piles of rice or pasta - and I didn’t. I was leading for a long way but I ended
up 11 th . My biggest indulgence is pastry. And I love baking. I train for 33 hours a week so in my time off I
need to rest, and spending time in the kitchen is perfect. Swimming is my biggest passion but baking
comes a close second.

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