Have you come across this new magazine for children who love books? It’s called Stew Magazine and it’s really lovely. It even smells good!
In this month’s edition there is a short story competition so why not have a go? You will also find information on how to draw a cartoon, puzzles, a poem, a short story and an article about inventing and writing fictional characters written by a famous children’s author ME!
Here is an exert:
WHERE DO I FIND MY PEOPLE? How do I create the characters for my books? Answer – I go to the Ideas Shop and head for aisle 10, shelf 6, where the characters are kept and pick one out. Not true of course. I wish it were as easy as that.
So how is it done, and what makes for a good character?
Firstly, what do they look like? Characters need a face of course, hair and eyes and all that stuff, but it’s often not something I need to describe, just something I need to know. I use a picture, maybe from a magazine, because a photo can bring a character to life. But I don’t worry too much about things like eye colour; honestly how often do you even notice eye colour? It only matters if it really matters – if for example the bad guy’s eyes are red . . .
Sometimes the physical description might even determine personality; both Ron Weasley and Pippi Longstocking have red hair and freckles hinting at their crazy, intuitive nature. I need to know what my characters wear too and how they move – do they limp along? Or go at a gallop?
Language is very important. Each character must have a unique voice; ideally the reader should know who is speaking without being told.
Personality is hugely important but I will avoid writing something like, She was brave and trusting. I have to show it. Think of the delightful Lucy in Narnia. She is naïve without being stupid. She doesn’t question the existence of another world, or of Mr Tumnus, she readily believes in them even though her older, cleverer siblings don’t. Over the course of the books she develops and becomes wiser,
for example in The Voyage of The Dawn Treader, when she reads The Magician’s Book she learns that actually she doesn’t want to either be truly beautiful or to know what people think of her.
Habits, such as nail biting or nervous twitching are a good way of showing someone’s inner tensions. Tapper the baddie in my new book BRIGHTLING drapes himself over furniture and chooses to lean against things rather than stand unaided. I used this to illustrate what a weak character he really has…. (there is more in Stew).
I do urge you to try the magazine or get a year’s membership. If you love books and reading, you’ll love this magazine.