Greg James shares his writing wisdom

October 09, 2020

Greg James' Writing Wisdom

Greg James, Explore Learning Writers’ Awards 2020 judge, is here to share his pearls of writing wisdom. Not only is he a Radio DJ, but he’s also known for co-writing the book series Kid Normal!

For the past twelve years, Explore Learning has been inspiring children to write, from the young authors in the making to those a little more reluctant. We’re inviting children across the UK aged 4-14 to pen a 500-word story. 

Greg James’ writing wisdom tips are ready to be shared with all of you budding authors out there. He’s the perfect judge for this year’s competition theme ‘Hidden Talents’ as he champions the idea of being yourself, the weirder the better, and having fun whilst you do it! Why have we chosen this theme? Well, we see it as an opportunity to bring out some positives from lockdown. What moments of greatness did you have? What secret talents did you uncover? We want to cheerleader the fact that anybody could be sat on an amazing ability, they just perhaps haven’t uncovered it as of yet! 

Everyone has a talent; anyone can be a writer 

We want to know, how does your family support your talent?

We’ve all been through a lot this year, but we’ve also all had an opportunity to spend more time together and find out more about ourselves as people.  About what makes us magical.

Now before we begin, we need you to be wearing a scarf. Yes, a scarf. You will very soon find out as to why.

We’ll temporarily pause whilst you go and dig one out.

All good to go?

Perfect! Let’s brush that scarf gracefully over our shoulders and get down to nitty-gritty top tips!

Greg James’ Writing Tips

Writing should be exciting. This competition is all about having fun; so, Greg wants to give you some tips and tricks around our marking criteria to help you write your best story yet. So without further adieu here’s Greg on…

  • Originality

Don’t listen to boring adults when you’re trying to come up with fun stuff. You want to keep your brain as open as possible. So that’s the first thing. The second most important bit of advice is: get yourself a scarf. Borrow one of your parent’s scarves perhaps. You need an authorial scarf to feel like you’re an actual author!

  • Theme

Keep your brain clear and come up with the maddest, silliest adventure you can. The theme is Hidden Talents, which is a broad theme, so you can take it anywhere and interpret it in any way that you want! It could be a hidden talent that you have, or that your best friend has, or even that your dog has! It could even be that your dog only talks to you when your mum and dad go out of the room – it could be that! Don’t just listen to me though, have a little think about the things that you love about your life and bring them to life! Give them character, personality and some funny things to say.

  • Plot

For me really, all I want to see is a beginning, middle and end. I know that sounds very basic but, that’s it! We want to establish the characters of the story, we want to have big action in the middle and then at the end we want it all tied up nicely or, left on a cliffhanger… and be inventive with that!

When we’re writing Kid Normal we just write out little bullet points for each bit. We say we’re going to start this chapter here, we’re going to do this, this and this, with these characters and then we want to get to this point. When you’ve got your little structure you can then write from start to finish!

  • Characterisation

Think about some of your favourite characters in your life. It could be someone that you saw in a shop the other day who made you laugh because they had a booming loud voice – maybe you could be inspired by that? It could be one of your teachers at school who has a great name that you could use? Or you could magnify a part of their personality, maybe they have really bright big red hair and that person could be a memorable person in your story. So look at the world around you to come up with the inspiration!

  • Enjoyment factor

Another thing to remember is to enjoy writing it! Because if you enjoy writing it, then the chances are, I will enjoy reading it as well. So make sure you’re having fun as that comes across when you read it.

  • Language

This is such a fun one. We loved experimenting with language for Kid Normal and we liked coming up with words. So be inventive with your vocabulary. Test yourself as well, look in a thesaurus and come up with some really long words just because they’re fun to learn! For example, we have a character called Mary who has a yellow umbrella and she flies with the umbrella. You know when you take an umbrella down after it’s finished raining, and you do that thing where you flap it, and water goes everywhere? We decided that was called ‘flumphing’. So you can ‘flumph’ your umbrella! Come up with some new words, you’ll have fun doing that as it’s such a fun thing to do!


Thank you indeed Greg James for your writing wisdom tips! These are sure set to make your story the most imaginative one so far! Greg cannot wait to read your stories! 

You can hear all of Greg’s tips right here:

Head to our Explore Learning Writers’ Awards page to enter your story online by the 28th of October 2020


Need additional help with your writing technique? Our team of experienced English tutors are on hand with expert advice to get those creative juices flowing. Book your free trial today!


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