Thursday, 27 March 2014

Jack's Interview with Lord Puff and Children's Writing Research

An interview with Lord Puff

Lord Puff is sitting in a big throne like chair, leaning back with his legs crossed. He is smoking a huge ornate pipe, which has purple smoke coming out of it.
Jack is sitting on a much smaller chair opposite. He is sitting up, looking intently at the weird man.

A long period of smoky silence prompts Jack to speak first.
J: Should we start this then?
LP: Yes, yes, yes. (exhales) What’s your name.
J: Jack
LP: Full name!
J: Jack March
LP: Right you are. (exhales a large puff of purple smoke and looks at it) What’s your favourite colour?
J: My favourite colour is red
LP: So may I assume you’re preferred tobacco is strawberry?
J: I don’t smoke
LP: Pah! I likely story. But no matter. How old are you?
J: I’m 12
LP: At what age did you start smoking?
J: I told you I don’t smoke!
LP: You must have started sometime
J:  I didn’t. Do you have any other questions?
LP: Yes, yes, I was getting to that. After smoking, what is your most pleasing pastime?
J: I don’t smoke!
LP: I know, I know, just answer the question if you’d be so kind.
J: Well, I really like making things. Cities and towns and stuff.
LP: Fascinating. Please elaborate.
J: I make them out of empty egg boxes, cereal boxes, other empty boxes, anything really. I cut them up and put them back together or turn them upside down- whatever looks best. Then I paint them to look right. I like making old cities best, with citadels and cathedrals and pillars and things.
Lord Puff looks at Jack intently, holding his pipe between his lips.
LP: Are these cities inhabited?
J: (Laughs) No. They’re models.
LP: Oh. I see. Are there many chimneys?
J: Sometimes, yes. If it suits.
LP: Humpf. Are there any buildings shaped like chimneys?
J: Not usually, no.
LP: Looks crestfallen and confused. What a pity.
J: If I make a model of Chimney Town then there’ll be loads of chimney buildings.
LP: Excellent! Will you be using real brick?
J: No, I’ll use cardboard and stuff like usual.
LP: Cardboard chimneys! Well that’s a bit of a fire hazard wouldn’t you say?
J: I wasn’t planning on setting it on fire.
LP: What kind of a Chimney Town would it be without fire?
J: Can I go now?

Research on plot and character

Writing Bestselling Children’s Books- 52 brilliant ideas for Inspiring young readers
Alexander Gordon Smith

Making a plan:
Pg149 “It should include the initiating event.”
Pg150 “(it) should also include your characters’ quest… If you know what a character is seeking then you will always stay true to this.”
“Being aware of these aims allows you to plan in obstacles and challenges, resistance that your character has to overcome.”
Don’t just write an outline on a sheet of paper- this makes it static and difficult to change. Use separate index cards or blank sheets of paper for each scene…Pin the first scene and the last scene at opposite ends of a bare wall then add the others in between, and include material like maps and photos.
“An outline should also include the ending, even if this is just a vague notion that may change.”
Don’t flesh out the plan too much, as this won’t allow for the characters to make their own way. Be prepared to change things if it turns out what you planned doesn’t work for the character. 

Get writing Children’s fiction, King, K. 

Pg50 “If readers don’t believe in your characters, relate to them and root for them then they won’t care what happens to them. Credible characters are especially important for children’s books because children lose interest quickly.”
“Children like to read about other children, the problems they face, the adventures they have and how they deal with things,”
Pg51- “Your Key Character should be introduced into your story right at the beginning and your reader will want to know a lot about them, especially their conflicts-both inner and outer-and desires.”
“Children like to read about characters a little older than themselves, so make your Key Character at the top end of your age range.”
Pg53 “One of the advantages of using fantasy creatures is that they can get away with doing a lot more than real children, because they don’t live in the real world.”
“Draw a map, if necessary, so you know where everything (in your fantasy world) is situated.”
Writing exercise- choose a character from a modern children’s book and write down at least five reasons why you think they are popular with children.
Pg54 Character profile ideas-
1. “Think about how they walk, how they talk, the things they like such as their favourite song, colour and hobby. Think also of the things they hate. Is there anything they are scared of? Do they have any phobias?”
2. Having a conversation with your character “Pretend that you’re interviewing your character. Ask them lots of questions such as what they want most in life, what their worst fear is, and jot the answers down.” Why don’t I have a character from the story interview them both? (Sort of like Caesar Flickerman in the Hunger Games
3. Visualizing your character. “Draw a picture of your character.”
4. Keeping a diary for a week of your character’s life. Imagine yourself as your character and write the diary from their point of view. Think about what they would do, where they would go. Also think about the tone in which they would write the diary.”
5. “Thinking about how your character acts Put your character in a variety of situations such as falling out with a friend, playing the lead in a school play, feeling ill, being attracted to someone, witnessing a robbery. How would they act? What would they look like? How would their voice sound?”
Pg56 “Imagine you are your character’s best friend, enemy, mum or teacher. What do they think about him or her? How would they describe the character to someone else? Write a profile from their perspective.”

Warning re: characterization of Freddie
Pg56 “Editors nowadays don’t usually like stories about anthropomorphic animals. If your character is an animal then make than animal as realistic as possible, integrating its natural traits and characteristics. Don’t just substitute an animal for a human character. If your character is a rabbit, let it live in a burrow; if it’s a dog, show it wagging its tail, barking, sniffing around.”
“Never make a character perfect. Children don’t want to read about a ‘goody-goody’ who never does anything wrong. They want to read about someone who messes up sometimes like they do; someone who gets scared or angry and is lonely or upset at times.”
Creating a story around your character
Pg57 “Every character has a story. Their story is their life so far, their dreams, ambitions and fears.”
Advice from an editor- “give a character a problem and solve it.” King added “in an unexpected way” to the end of this sentence.
What does your character fear most?
Pg58 What does your character want most?
What is your characters greatest strength?
Three different characters- how do they react in the same situation?
Pg59 Your Key Character should have more good points than bad ones but your villain should have more bad points than good ones.

Pg69 “the plot is something that has happened because of something else.”
Pg70 When? When does it happen? Is your story a historical one? Set in the future? Work out a time sequence for your story.
Pg72 Conflict is the backbone of your story.
Pg74 Three types of conflict:
·         Conflict with other characters
·         Conflict with their own personality
·         Conflict with nature or circumstances

Things to do for character:
1. Interview characters
2. Keep a week long diary for characters
3. Put characters in a situation and see how each of them reacts
4. Profile from someone elses perspective (Fay on Jack) 

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