Target Audience

It’s been a while…but, yes I’m back.

Why the silence? Well many reasons, but mainly because I’ve been beavering away on a total re-write of my book, which will no longer be entitled Prophecy of Innocence.

If you recall I paid out quite a few hundred pounds to have a professional edit done on the book which I had been writing for 4 years. My epic ‘children’s’ fantasy tale, Prophecy of Innocence. I’d also written the second in the three volume novel, though this was not sent for editorial feedback.

I have spent the past month and a half having to totally re-think my approach and I thought the best way to update on this (as this blog is all about this writing journey) is to take all the editorial points in hand and talk about how I’m tackling each one in a series of short posts. So here’s the first:

Target Audience.

I paid for an editorial for two reasons. One I have never had any specific writing training. None. I started writing this book simply because I had an idea once upon a time. Also because I wanted to have it published, whether that be by a professional publisher or by myself. But I needed to have professional opinion on it, and so that is what I sought. I am glad I did, despite the initial gut-wrenching desire to throw in the towel and give up!

So, I thought Prophecy was definitely a children’s story and I stood by it as such. I ‘sold’ it as such and the edit was done bearing in mind I’d said it was for middle grade readers.

And therein lay my first problem.

The story I had written had a bunch of stuff in it that middle grade readers wouldn’t be remotely interested in.  Hard punch to take when you work with said demographic on a daily basis!

I hadn’t written specifically enough for my target audience. Although the editor acknowledged there was “much about the novel suitable for the middle grade reader”  it seemed that there were more things which were not than were!

Here are some of the points made:

  • “There’s a lot within it that isn’t necessarily suitable for the MG audience  and much of the novel is concerned with adult characters and their journeys – again not ideal.”
  • “While the beginning is wonderfully dramatic, especially chapter three and the destruction of the factory, so much death isn’t appropriate for your intended readership.” Ooops! (Though I’d argue and point out it was of generic non important characters as a whole and not detailed in descriptive gore!)
  • “For me the title Prophecy of Innocence doesn’t sound like an MG book title, and I don’t believe it will reach out to your audience in the way that it should. It sounds very old – adult- in fact.” Yes, novice writers out there if you pay for an edit be prepared for harsh truths! My new novel has no title as yet… :)
  • “The story becomes focussed on romance and marriage.” (Guilty as charged, your honour!)
  • “Toddington’s job – running a factory – makes him seem adult and therefore the reader will probably struggle to engage with him and his experiences.”
  • Summing up: “I wonder if you’ve allowed the story to get carried away with itself, and forgotten your audience in the process.” (And there, dear reader is a lesson in plotting and planning instead of pantsing your way through a novel! Though in my defence I did just start writing this for fun. I never had any ambition much at first to be published, so I just wrote a story and enjoyed it.)

Now I could have taken the view that okay, I could just re-write it based on the other editing points for a YA audience to whom some of these themes would be more suited. However, it wasn’t that simple. All the things wrong with my novice writing attempt tie in together and so I didn’t feel this was the best course of action, though I did consider it.

So what did I do? Well once I’d ironed out a few of the other issues which didn’t work with the book, I set about firstly having my main character as a contemporary child rather than one of (or a few of ) the elflings underground. Basically, I changed main character and viewpoint  and this made me focus much more on being the child. This isn’t an entirely new idea as Book 3 was due to fast forward to the modern age and some contemporary child characters. I guess what I’ve been doing for 4 years is writing an origins story. A history book!)

Then I have been reading lots and lots of Roald Dahl and David Walliams books to my nephew. Not that I am writing humour, you understand, but actually it’s no good me reading only my adult books (not that kind!) if I’m writing for children. I needed to get a grip on how to write for this audience as really I’d never properly considered it before other than in a very vague, generic way.

Secondly I interviewed some ten  and eleven year old girls and boys at the school I work at to find out if my main character needed to be a boy or a girl. This sounds ridiculous. Surely I should know, but there were a lot of things in my plot that I needed to know how boys react versus girls to certain situations. I also had a voice in my head and needed to see who fit it best. Then I wanted to find out about how they behave generally, what are their motivations, what do they do in their spare time, what kind of language do they use, because the type of colloquialisms I used at eleven are not going to be the same 30 years on.

So I did that and that has helped no end in thinking about how my main character reacts to certain events which I’d already plotted out.

Then I wrote the first three chapters in the first person so I could really get inside the child character’s head. This is something the editor suggested I do to help me with viewpoint and sticking with one. I have since changed it to third person (as I prefer this for the type of story I have) but it did really work for me. It might sound laborious, but it isn’t as though I need to do it for the whole book. I might still dabble into it if I have problems later on, but for now I am happy I am in one head. (I will talk about my problems with viewpoint in another post!)

And since then I have simply been writing and playing around with and re-writing and re-writing the first  four chapters and getting to know the two main characters so far.

I’ve also forgotten about aiming to be published. For now. I’ve decided I just want to learn more about the art of crafting a good novel. Maybe joining a writing group/course would be best for this, but I don’t think those types of things are really for me. It’s more fun finding out for yourself and trying different things.

As well as this I’ve also started plotting rather than pantsing! And I’ll talk about this in my next post.

What about your own experiences as a novice novelist? What problems have you encountered/did you encounter and how have you/how did you fixed them? I’d love to hear any thoughts from both novices and those with more experience!

Thanks, as ever, for reading.



Filed under Editing, Plot Development, Publishing, Writing

A Poem for World Poetry Day (updated)



“What do you do?” they asked, 

Eyes open wide.

“Not what I imagined,” I said,

“It’s come as quite a surprise.

Let’s see…

I’m a chef and a chauffeur

A gardener, a maid

A social worker, teacher

A ‘Jack of all Trade.’

I’m a builder, a cleaner

An accountant, a nurse

Having so many skills

Can be quite a curse.

I’m a mechanic, an entertainer,

A negotiator, a clerk.

I have time for little else

Other than my work.”

“Wow! You do such a lot,”

They chorused in awe.

“You must earn a fortune,

You’ll never be poor!”

“Hmmmm, well…

There’s no holiday, no pension,

No perks and no pay,

There’s no company car

I’m never allowed a sick day.”

“What sort of a job is that?

They cried, unimpressed

“Surely you get something,

You must get some rest?”

I smiled at the children

So young and so free

And instead of replying I asked:

“What would you like to be?”

Their answers were eager,

They aimed to be best:

A footballer, a pop star,

A forensic scientist.

“So no one would like

To do what I do?”

They all shook their heads, 

Determined and true.

“You’ve got to be kidding!

No way, Jose, have no fear!”

They chimed altogether

As I grinned ear to ear.

I considered their faces,

Full of innocence and hope

How could I tell them

The truth? 

How would they cope?

For to be a parent,

The most rewarding job of all,

Other hopes and dreams

May well take a fall. 


Filed under Writing

30 Days ’til 40 #8

This one comes with a deep breath and is actually related to what this blog was set up for in the first place…to write about my writing journey… So, today on October 8th we have…

#8: I paid for a Professional Edit on my first novel.

When I started writing this children’s novel 4 years ago I had not a Scooby Doo what I was doing. 4 years, 174 million re-writes and edits later, and now a professional eye cast over the work, it seems I still don’t have a clue.

I am pleased I paid for a professional edit, very pleased, because I could have continued to flounder around in the dark writing more aimless rubbish. I haven’t written a great book. I knew that anyway, even without an edit, but I desperately needed to know what and how to fix it. Every single thing the editor I hired has put in the report I received back today, is absolutely spot on and so I am for that extremely pleased to have invested my £600.

However, it’s only an investment if I do now continue to work on it and aim to be published, surely? None of the outcome of the edit or my thoughts around it alters the fact though that I have been an amateur about all this for too long. Writing has been a hobby and I wonder really if I am cut out to be a writer of fiction novels at all any way. There must be a reason I became a teacher not a writer.

Firstly I think this because I only have one real idea and even that one has taken me years to get so completely and utterly wrong.

I may sound disheartened or negative, but I’m not especially. I just know I am going to have to do a hell of a lot of work and scrapping and re-plotting to get the past 4 years work like anything up to scratch, (and even then I might not get it right) and so I wonder if it is worth it. I wonder if I should just leave novel writing to the likes of Matt Haig and Rick Riorden. To those who actually have a talent for it. Let’s face it there’s enough shite out there without my trying to compete.

But…I love working on this story. I love the story, I love the characters.

I guess the real decision is: Do I just want to write my story and keep it for me? Or do I really want to be published as I once thought was what I wanted?

The main issues at the moment are: its suitability in some of its themes and characters for middle grade readership, and that I don’t have a strong plot driver in volume one.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Right now, there’s a huge mountain to climb and I feel a little overwhelmed by it.

However, I do need a goal as I enter into my next decade…so perhaps I need to knuckle down and get serious.

Watch this space…


Filed under Editing, Plot Development, Publishing, Writing

30 Days ’til 40: #25

I feel grumpy today. Really grumpy. Not because there’s only 25 days left of life in my thirties. Not because it’s Monday. I just do.

So I’m going to keep today’s top 30 achievements of the year short and sweet and slightly in keeping with today’s low mood. (Because I’m in a can’t be arsed mood, but I told myself I would blog-celebrate this year’s achievements so…)

In at…

#25: Submitted my Novel Three Times

Anyone in writing will tell you that’s a pathetic amount of submissions and yes, I suppose it is. One was to a publisher who actually showed signs of wanting to publish it (you can read more about that saga here).

The other two submissions were my first to agents.

Needless to say they were rejected. However, I did submit and that is quite a hard process in itself, what with writing synopses (one which had to be just three lines long! Tough gig. What’s that about?) and writing a covering letter introducing who you are etc..etc…)

So I class making submissions as an achievement, even if they came to nothing.

Anyway rejections are  fine. After all, I hadn’t gotten myself an editor back then…



Filed under Writing

Pinocchio: An FP inspired short story.

The FP (Friday Phrase, check out the hashtag FP on Fridays for micro fiction fun) this story came from was one I wrote a long time ago, even before the weekly themes came about. It’s a little bit of fun with the idea coming from the familiar fairy story of Pinocchio. I haven’t written a short story for a while, so forgive me if it’s a bit on the not-so-sharp side. But it’s been good to get some practise in. :) 


So here it is, an FP inspired short:


“Peter.” The stranger stated his name confidently and extended his right hand as though he knew for certain I would take it. His left hand casually rested in the pocket of his trousers causing the matching suit jacket to flick up slightly, revealing a well toned thigh. That much I could tell, even through the fabric.

I offered him my hand in return, intrigued by his assertiveness.

He took it in his cold, smooth, firm one and, instead of shaking it, he held it up to his lips, not that this surprised me much.

“Christie,” I said, wondering why I was giving this stranger my real name.

I wasn’t one for being stopped dead in my tracks by a well chiselled jaw, I was too long in the tooth for that, but Peter was, how shall I say, different. Oh, I know it sounds trite, but there was something unique about him that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I pulled my hand back. Not quickly, but deliberately, reluctantly almost, and ran my fingers through my hair.

“Your finest champagne, please,” Peter said to the barman. Ryan took it upon himself to roll his eyes on my behalf. I wasn’t a stranger to being chatted up in this way. Ryan had seen it a hundred times though and it simply amused him. He was gay of course, otherwise he’d have tried it on with me, despite being half my age. He’d told me as much. Thousands of pounds on plastic surgery meant that even now, into my fifties, men found me attractive enough to try their luck. It was tedious at times. The same old chat up lines, the same lack of originality. But this one, despite the usual conventionalities, was different. Something in me melted, and it wasn’t my enhanced cleavage or botoxed cheeks.

“Thank you,” I said, as I took the champagne flute and we clinked the crystal together.

“Here’s to new acquaintances.” Peter smiled, and I couldn’t help but notice how every single physical feature he possessed was so perfectly formed.

“He’s had as much work done as I have,” I thought, and smiled back.

We spent the evening chatting, drinking and, unusually, laughing. He was easy to talk to, and despite his slick, obviously well-worn, moves, he was refreshingly childlike in his outlook on life. Perhaps on account of being no older than thirty-five. He suggested we go bowling and ice-skating, though not that night, “maybe we could do that on our first date?” he boldly suggested.

When the jazz band came on, he took my hand and led me to the dancefloor. He held me close, those well toned thighs pressed hard against mine, and it was obvious, from another of his protruding body parts, where the night would lead.

I think I might have whispered something suitably cliched in his ear at that point. Something along the lines of, “Is that a piece of wood in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?” and he laughed. Not at me, but with me. And then he looked into my eyes and leaned in for a kiss.

The sudden blaring of the fire alarm brought us both to our senses and halted the kiss before it had even started. “Everyone out! This is not a false alarm,” I heard Ryan’s voice call, as we were shoved and shunted towards the exit. Thick smoke bellowed into the intimate space Peter and I had only moments before shared. I found myself clinging tight to Peter’s fingers. Long and smooth and slender; a reassuringly strong grip.

A sudden cry of terror ripped through the air from somewhere behind us. Peter froze on the spot and turned his head back. As he did so his fingers slipped from mine and I was pulled away from him through the crowd towards the fire exit.

“Peter!” My voice was strangled, and I coughed through the smoke.

But he didn’t hear, or didn’t seem to hear, and he disappeared from my sight towards the back of the club. As I moved closer to the front exit with the crowd, I glanced back. The kitchen door flung open and a tsunami of flames tore up through the bar and licked at the ceiling over our heads. I tripped out onto the street, wondering how the dream had turned so quickly into this nightmare.

Then a man, an old man, appeared through the swirling black smoke, coughing and spluttering. He hobbled towards the exit and collapsed, as two firefighters ran to him and dragged his body out onto the pavement. There he gasped for air.

“My son,” he choked the words out. “My son, you must save my son.” The firefighters ran back in, ducking under the flashover and disappearing towards the kitchen.

Only a few seconds passed, though it felt to me like minutes and in those seconds I caught the old man’s watery, grey eyes staring at me.

Suddenly, the firefighters emerged with Peter from the back of the club. He was wheezing and gasping, his face blackened from the smoke. The two firefighters hauled him out and he collapsed next to the old man on the ground.

I screamed. Peter’s feet were alight. They were actually alight.

“Somebody help him, for Christ’s sake!” I yelled. The flames licked higher, smouldering through the fabric of his trousers. And therein lay the strangest thing. As the grey sheen of the trousers disintegrated, underneath there was no burning flesh. There was no bubbling or crackling of skin and there were no screams from Peter. He didn’t so much as flinch as the fire danced and burned up his legs and charcoaled the wood that replaced the flesh.

Peter caught my eye, and he smiled just as he had when we had clinked champagne glasses.

“My son! You must save my son!” The old man coughed again. But this time he was not addressing the firefighters or the paramedics who were now rushing across the street to Peter with blankets and medical equipment. No, he was looking at me, with the same steel-grey eyes Peter was.

“Kiss him,” The old man choked. “Kiss my boy,” he said just as a paramedic put an oxygen mask over his mouth.

Confused, I looked again at Peter. The man who had captured my heart in one evening of utter madness. How much more madness would kissing him be now as his body burned?

“Someone, please, help him!” I screamed again.

One of the paramedics threw a blanket over Peter’s legs and rolled him back and forth, but the flames resisted the smothering and continued slowly cremating both the blanket and his wooden legs.

“Christie, please. Only you can save me,” Peter said. “I need you to kiss me, You must kiss me.”

The paramedic swung his head round to the firefighters. “I’m going to need help here! This man’s legs are wooden and won’t stop burning!”

I went over to Peter and dropped to my knees, behind his head. Peter tilted his head towards me.

Another paramedic took out an oxygen mask, and pulled back the elastic.

“Quickly” Peter whispered to me. “Before it’s too late. Before all of me burns.”

I leaned in just before the paramedic could put the mask on. “Please, Madam,” I heard him say “Now’s not the time!”

I ignored him. It was now or never, whatever ‘it’ would turn out to be. As our lips touched, Peter’s whole body shuddered. I kept my lips locked there, and felt his face, so rigid and taut, suddenly soften. His shoulders and arms relaxed by his side. I stepped back, and watched, wondering how one kiss could have so much power. His breathing slowed and his chest rose and fell with the ease of a sleeping baby. He touched his stomach and pushed the soft flesh inward. Peter sighed and a small smile crept over his face, until the smell of burning wood turned suddenly to the acrid stench of burning flesh. The paramedic reeled back.

“What the-?”

Peter screamed as the flames now seared his brand new flesh.

“The blanket!” I grabbed it from the stunned paramedic and, wrapping Peter’s legs in it, I rolled him side to side. The flames went out and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Peter’s breathing became more shallow and the paramedic placed the oxygen mask over his mouth.

“Thank you,” Peter mouthed through the mask. “Thank you for giving me my life.”

I grabbed Peter’s hand and squeezed it. It felt different. Warmer and softer than when he had first taken it all those hours ago at the bar.

“I don’t understand any of this,” I said.

The paramedics lifted Peter onto a stretcher.

“Are you coming with him, madam?”

I looked at Peter.

He shook his head, and in that moment I knew. I knew I’d been used.

I went home, tossed my heels in the trash, pulled down my hairdo and removed my mask of make-up for the last time. I looked into the mirror and saw my naked features through a new lens. I guess there’s no real way to tell a liar, and killer looks aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.

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Filed under Writing

Ode to Social Media

(With no hint of irony at all…)

Oh social media, how I love you
Your silly, modern ways.
A place to be a socialite
Across the World Web waves.

To check in your location
Refresh the News Feed page.
To tag and crop a photograph
To create your very own stage.

A place to share and have a laugh
Or for sympathy to seek.
Make of it all what you will
Any day of your long, dull week.

A world to stalk celebrities
From the comfort of your own home.
Or just to find that other folk
Have a life as ordinary as your own.

Status updates, like and link
A profile for all to see.
Nothing’s sacred anymore
But who cares? It’s all for free.

Tell whoever wants to know
All about your life.
Communicate your deepest thoughts
From the sofa to your wife.

Collect up lots of friends like stamps
How many follow you?
How many do you even ‘like’
Of all your Facebook crew?

Be certain that you always
Try hard not to offend.
Be politically correct
Lest your followers should un-friend.

Acronyms a plenty
May drive some up the wall.
O.M.G and W.T.F
You haven’t heard them all??

Now social media, it may seem I loathe you
For wasting all my time.
But if you were not in my life
Then where would I share this rhyme?

A great big thanks to all who continue to read this blog and engage with my mixed up mind on social media :)


Filed under General Rambliings, Writing

Character Count

Another post about her writing journey? Really? What’s come over her?

Yes, folks, don’t change the channel. I know I haven’t done a rant for a few weeks, but you know, this blog is called Writeaway so I do feel a little as though I am false advertising at times.

Anyway, for those of you who have followed this blog for sometime, you will know all the headaches and doubts I have about my novel in progress, as well as the great things I love about it. (Yes, I do; remember the A-Z from last year? There you go.)

You may also be aware that I consider myself to be a plot driven writer, rather than a character driven writer. Many blogs and writers will tell you this is the way to doom and unpublishable work, because if a reader can’t identify and root for the character they can’t give a damn about the plot. I’d agree with this (but only to a certain extent). I would argue there are plenty of adults who don’t worry about either so much. I haven’t read 50 Shades, but from what I can gather, neither the characters or the plot stand up too well, yet look at its success. Hmmmm. That old chestnut, hey?

So as always with writing and with regards to writing my own novel I have to put the blinkers on from time to time and not heed all the ‘rules’ and ‘advice’. As I’ve often said: yes, there are certain rules which need to be adhered to, but essentially I need to write what I feel is in me, and it so happens that my characters are not, as so many writers profess, “speaking to me in my head” or “taking over my life,” whilst I am trying to go about my daily business.  They are just not. It was in a previous post entitled “Losing the Plot” that I talked about this. I think of a plot first and characters come only when I start writing dialogue on the page. That’s just how it is for me, right or wrong, we shall see. It is why I have to ignore social media most of the time because there are a lot of writers out there spouting their advice as though it were gospel, and as any atheist will argue, that’s a load of tosh as well.

So, today I was turning over in my head what my editor may say about my characters (other than “why are they all named after motorway service stations or mash-ups of UK place names?”),  and thinking more so with regard to the question do the characters drive the plot or does the plot drive the characters? And then I stopped questioning myself and thought…”You know what, I don’t care, I’m just going to blog my thoughts on this subject.”

And this got me to  thinking about all the books I loved as a child and how plot won me over every time.

1) The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. Most of the characters got right up my nose actually. Other than the White Witch and Edmund. Lucy was sappy, Susan and Peter as dull as ditch-water, talking Beavers and a fawning Fawn. Then there was Aslan and well, he was just a lion who sacrificed himself. That book was all about plot (and God and Jesus and stuff, not that I got that from it at all when I was ten)! But I don’t think CS Lewis spent an awful lot of time drawing his characters out. I could be wrong, but what I loved about that book (and The Magician’s Nephew – more so actually) was the plot. The story and the way it developed. Just the simple notion there was another land through a wardrobe or pools of water in woods or by putting on a magical ring. Cool.

2) Anything by Enid Blyton: Oh come on. The Famous Five? The Secret Seven? Plot, plot and more plot. The mystery was what kept me reading, not Dick or George or er…who were the other ones again? The Naughtiest Girl in The School only had me hooked because I wanted to go to boarding school and have a tuck box and go to the shop to buy stamps and write letters home. Elizabeth could have been Alfred for all I cared.

3) All Fairy Tales. All of them. Generic characters with the odd baddy to spice it up. (Rumplestiltskin anyone?) Why is it only the baddies who were any fun or actually the ones who drove the plot forward? (Incidentally, I worried that my antagonist is the one who drives the plot forward in Book 2 as oppose to Toddington. I’ll wait for the back lash on that little piece of literary rule breaking and rebellion, but as I’m, essentially, writing a fancy, long fairy tale, I think I’m going to just have the guts and conviction to go with it.)

4) I’d even go as far as to say Harry Potter himself is not the character who kept me reading that particular series of books. Professor Snape? Yes. Ron and Hermione? Yes. Wanting to find out out what magic spell they’d all learn next? Yes. Harry was, for me, quite bland, and although I cared about him a bit, it was more that I cared for the wizarding world and the effect Voldemort had on that and how they were all going to collectively defeat him. All the little plot twists and turns around Snape actually engaged me more than the main plot. And actually Voldemort’s back story was far more riveting than Harry’s.

But not only as a child has this been the case. As an adult I’ve enjoyed Agatha Christie novels and we know how her characters (at least the secondary ones) get accused of being two dimensional. Murder mysteries are, by nature, plot driven. It is the whodunnit? which keeps us reading, rather than the characters, I’d say anyway. I mean her detectives are engaging of course, and Poirot is my favourite, but Christie had plots first it seems, then character.

Then I got to thinking about stuff my little boy has read or is reading. He’s heavily into Roald Dahl at the moment and I’d say his books go on a 50/50 scale, including his short stories for adults. Tales of The Unexpected…very plot driven. Of course he does write some wonderful characters too…The children in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and Willy Wonka and The Grand High Witch. Miss Trunchbull. All fantastic characters.The BFG too is a great character, but I wouldn’t say all of his stories have great main characters. Danny in Danny The Champion of the World is for me, quite dull, yet I love the story itself.  Dahl actually is billed as “The World’s Number One story teller” and I think it is the stories and their plots which engage children most. The idea of winning a chocolate factory? Or of turning ducks into people and vice versa? The idea of a man who can see through playing cards to win a fortune and how he goes about it. It is Dahl’s “what ifs?” which engaged me over the characters (although obviously mainly very well drawn).  I certainly know the idea of The Witches all being teachers in disguise was just perfect! Oh and speaking of Roald Dahl. We’re reading The BFG at the moment and Dahl uses the “was  ….ing” thing LOADS instead of ed verbs. So quite frankly, I really, really, really won’t be listening to much of these “writing tips” anymore. It seems one sure fire way to lose your style and voice.

Also my little boy loves these books called “Dinosaur Cove” by an author called Rex Stone. They are typical chapter books for the 6+ age range, but oh! The amount of adverbs is akin to the number of hot dinners I’ve had and the two main characters are completely indistinguishable from each other. But my little boy LOVES them. Because, you know, dinos.  Also the plots are atrocious, but that’s what is funny. Kids will like books for all sorts of reasons that we as adults and especially us as writers baulk at!

Now, I’m not aiming for a series of ‘easy read’ chapter books or advocating the overuse of adverbs or inappropriate repetitive dialogue tags (grinned – Rex Stone, seriously too many ‘grinned Jamie, grinned the other one’) particularly as I’m writing a three volume middle grade fantasy novel. Of course I want my characters to have depth and I hope the main ones do, (because my character count currently stands at about 24 speaking characters and it’s really hard to give them ALL depth), but in all honesty, my book is not character driven. Probably because when I had the idea for the book I was twelve and had just finished reading The Narnia books. I like my characters though, but I had no idea who they were going to be until I actually started writing. Many of them just showed up half way through, unexpectedly. For Book 3, which I haven’t written yet, I need to introduce four human characters. Children. I work with children. I know children, yet I cannot plan for them at all. I don’t know what I want them to be like until I get them to meet Toddington (the main protagonist). Even Toddington had no real character to him when I first drafted. All my characters have developed as I wrote them in and found them talking. It is my idea for the plot and getting from point a to point b which drives my characters forwards and my writing, not the other way round.

And the truth seems to me, from my experience of children, is that plot is actually more important for most of them than character. That doesn’t mean you can’t have great characters, but do we need to sit and worry that every event which happens in the book is driven forward by the main character? I know in my book it isn’t. And if you watch children write a story they come up with a plot. They do. That’s how they are taught. That’s how their imagination runs. My little one wrote a story the other day. He couldn’t get all his plot ideas down quick enough, as he told me. He was so excited by the plot. It just so happened everything in the plot happened to a velociraptor named Speedey (with an ey on purpose apparently). Speedey was simply the vessel for all his plot ideas to go through. I know however, many writers say “Have a character, THEN put them in a situation, or situations.” But knowing what I do about children it seems to me, I think maybe we need to worry less about what adults think when we’re writing for children and see it from a child’s point of view. I’m not dumbing down my characters at all, I’m just saying I’m going to get ready to defend why they aren’t necessarily at the forefront of my thoughts when writing.

Yes, I am a novice and so am, no doubt, talking out of my backside. My editor will no doubt tell me a load of these things which are formulaically wrong with my book and will hate my characters for more reasons than that three syllable names are hard to pronounce. But I can’t help thinking back to those books I enjoyed as a child, and even now as an adult enjoy most. They are the ones where the plot came first. The characters have to be good, but for me they are not what comes first to my mind when reading or when writing. I do like a good story.

The End.


Filed under Characters, Editing, Plot Development, Writing