Some stories are unputdownable. How can we achieve this in our own writing?

This week’s Story Club focused on tension and suspense! The air was crackling, and young writers were on the edge of their seats to find out … what type of cake everyone ordered from our host cafe, Thrive.

Mysteries were one topic we discussed. A mystery, no matter how small, can be a carrot that keeps a reader reading. From a hinted-at but not explained past trauma, to an unexplained, recurrent scent, these little questions can keep readers engaged. …

In honour of a birthday (shared with Percy Jackson!) we had a look at our characters.

When were they born? Morning, evening? Spring, Summer?

How to use this in a story? Perhaps a morning birth means the character is awake early. Perhaps a Spring birth means a love of first flowers, the world waking up.

And then there is astrological sign!

Sun signs are fun to reflect on, along with the elements they correspond to.

This Story Club was special not only because of the birthday …

In this week’s writing workshop, we looked at how to end our stories. Think ‘circle’. To write the ending, we go back to the beginning …

Can we use the same setting at the start and end of the story, for a feeling of completion? Or perhaps something similar happens, like the character drinking a cup of tea, looking out a window.

The other topic we explored was character growth. Can we show, not tell, the changes in our characters at the finish?

Fantastic story ideas were shared around the room. A futuristic oceanic world with a school boat, a…

How do characters show emotion in a story?

We explored this question at this week’s Story Club at Thrive cafe.

One of the beauties of stories is, the character’s mood isn’t limited to the character. Yes, we explored what a character would wear, what their body language would be, and their speech. But we also created weather and landscape to reflect the character’s mood. Thereby giving the reader an overall feeling, similar to what the character feels.

One of the wonderful things about being a children’s author is that other writers share their stories with me! This story has a lot of heart, and is a beautiful nature-connected tale from the Philippines. Written by Zea Perez, it was translated from Filipino by Jae Oh. The story is edited by JECaulton and illustrated by JC Sobrevilla.

I’m honoured to showcase their story, which explores an important topic and gives the forest a voice.

In the virgin forest of Doe grew strange little trees called bonsai or pygmy trees. There were bonsai trees of the Almaciga, Narra,,Lawaan, Apitong and…

What roles do monsters play in stories? They can represent the opposite qualities of a hero. Voldemort chooses power over friendship, chooses to stand alone. Harry is all about friendship and acting from love.

A monster can be misunderstood. The fiery lava goddess in Moana becomes benevolent when her heart is returned to her. In my book, the Ice Giant becomes a friend when she admits her lonelines, asks for help and Elika helps her.

At yesterday’s story club, we took qualities of known animals, plants, things, and based our monsters on them.

Our fortnightly writing workshop at Thrive cafe focused on animal characters. what can they bring to our stories?

A tiger (or mouse)! can get the action moving.

A boa constrictor can be a good analogy for a girl who holds on too tight, who needs to shed her skin and let go.

Or a creature from deep within a mountain may emerge with a teaching for us.

We met all these characters and more at Story Club.

Yesterday’s writing workshop was abuzz with opposites. A fiery, lightning-thrower met an intuitive, listening water woman. A nature-lover and city-lover teamed up to build a sanctuary to meet both of their needs. A traditional, formal conversationalist met a modern-speaking short-phrase-thrower and a woman who spoke ‘like hazel’ entered the scene. Pink met Green, all in the world of stories.

What can we do with opposite characters in our stories?

Opposites like Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter can bring tension into the plot. Or those with opposite characteristics can team up together to combine skills. …

A supermoon. An eclipse. Tornadoes, sand storms, tidal waves.
These amazing natural events can spice up a story. They increase the tension, the action, and can allow the story to change.
I like to think about what my characters would do in the face of a natural event. How would they react?
A storm can reveal the bravery of a character, or fear. A full moon can draw out powers. Shooting stars allow for wishes to be revealed.

Yesterday at Story Club, held at the fun and friendly Thrive cafe, we explored voices.

A character’s voice can make them more real, standing out from other characters. The way they speak, what they say. The voice reflects the personality and shows the character’s unique perspective on the world.

For example, our pastry chef in the photo above tends to comment about the latest flavour he’s tried. Or how a building looks like a wedding cake. Or how he’s ill after tasting 100 pastries at a competition he was judging.

And Jade, our forest friend, leans out from the trees…

Giulietta M Spudich

I am a children’s author and I love coffee. My books have themes of strong friendship, nature and magic. Find me and my books at

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