Tips, videos and advice on

Writing

Author, Speaker, Ambassador

In this video, recorded for the Premier League, Dan shares his top writing tips.

You can also view the transcript below:

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Dan Freedman

Writing Tips

1. Use your own life experiences
This might sound simple, but it’s very important. Use experiences that have happened in your own life. For example, I went to visit a school in East London, and they had a football match in the school playground between the Teachers and the Pupils. It was the best atmosphere of any game I’ve ever seen! And, you’ve guessed it, when I wrote my next book, Skills From Brazil, it was all about Jamie Johnson playing in a school match against his teachers.
If you use things that have happened in your own life, you’re that much more confident about it and your story will flow.

2. Know your characters
It is vital that you really know your characters, and, when I say that, I mean all the little details. What’s their favourite type of pizza? What’s their middle name? What’s their biggest fear? What do they hope? What’s their biggest embarrassment? What’s their biggest secret?
If you know all those little facts about your characters, and where they’re really coming from, you’ll find that they can actually write your story for you, and, in the end, instead of thinking, “What am I going to write next?”, you think, “What will my character say about that? What will they want to do next?” They guide your story.

3. Don’t expect your first try to be perfect
Never think you have to write the perfect story first time round. None of us do. The way we write is not a moment; it’s a process. So, don’t think that you have to create your end story immediately. The way you should write is… you sit down, put something down on paper, then have a look at it, and see if there is anything you can improve. And it goes along like that. That is how we write and have no embarrassment about not thinking our story is perfect first-time round.

4. Have a plan
You wouldn’t build a house without having a design; story writing is the same. Know what it is going to look like. When I’m writing, I often get the end of the story first, which means that is what I am building towards. So have a plan, but also, don’t be afraid to change it… if the story has moved along the way, you can, too. You can always change your tactics!

5. Show that you care
Do you care about the character that you’re writing about? A good story is not really about sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, etc; those are important, but the most important thing about a story is if you care about what is happening to the character; how do you make yourself care? Put obstacles; difficulties; challenges in the way of your character to achieving their dreams. If you care, then we will care, and that is a good story.

A poem about diversity written for the Premier League

You can also view the transcript below:

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Poem

Funny Old Lot

Funny old lot, us human beings.
We see someone different, someone we’ve not even met,
And some hidden part of us senses a threat.

But how do we make friends, how does the circle widen,
If we don’t walk forward, even when we’re frightened?

Funny old lot, us human beings.
The ultimate conundrum for our big little brains,
To understand how we’re all different and yet still the same.

We cry, we sleep, if you cut us, don’t we bleed?
We do funny burps, we sneeze, giggle…and breathe.

We’re a single idea, in a billion fragments of light.
Everyone of us our own expression; all variations of right.

Put two magnets together – original opposite attraction,
The pieces of a jigsaw; differences allow the interaction.

Let’s not for a moment think we are grand.
Human-kind is wise only when she tries to understand.
Today’s king, tomorrow’s dirt under the beggar’s feet.
Life is a search we’re destined never to complete.

While we’re here, we all have choices to make.
Look, stranger, tell me, which road will you take?

Will you turn in your shoulder and make our island a little colder?
Or offer your hand and let your warmth enfold her?

It’s us, we’re the funny old lot who make up the jigsaw.
And, if I may hold your attention for just one moment more:

See that different looking person who’s just walked in, through the door?
Over to you, the next move is all yours…

Do you feel threatened? Do you feel like starting a war?

Or does some hidden part of you recognise the missing piece of your core?

Another poem for the Premier League, this time on the subject of resilience.

Fail to Succeed

A missed shot, that goes just past the post.
That dropped catch when truly you needed it most.
So, what about the next match? There will, for sure, be another
Will we still turn to the past? Or can we yet recover?

When the next whistle blows, are you the one who can fight again?
Or is that enough? Is, for you. the beginning already the end?
To fail is to finish
To fail is to fall
Rejection the dagger, stabbing you with the thought you’re nothing at all

But what if there was another way?
A thought that keeps recurring
Failure is but a step on the journey. We can keep returning.

But that would change the frame, change the name and it would be pretty cool
It would mean we could fail as many times as we liked
Getting up after each and every fall

You knock us down, we stand up tall
We know the secret, Our eye’s on the ball
We know it’s ok to fail and you can write this in a letter

Each time we fail, we’ll just fail a little bit better
So start the match, blow that whistle, we’ll still be there to answer your call
And we know that, in the end, the final time we fail, we won’t be failing at all.

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