Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Moving the Story Forward

There are Lots of Challenges

In my stories about The Tenth Gateway the children have to overcome a number of challenges and solve lots of puzzles. It’s how I can get them to move from one situation to the next. It’s also how they can get through the gateways and keep moving forward to finish the game.

Most of my puzzles are either about working out rhyming clues or word games and puzzles.

Difficult Situations to Overcome

To develop the story I have to imagine many different scenarios so that each of the sub worlds in the game are consistent in significant ways but also unique. There are good fairy folk who help the children but there are also lots of nasty creatures that are trying to prevent them from reaching The Tenth Gateway.

In The Spy’s Door, for example, Sophie and Jun have to find there way through the world of gateway five to reach gateway six. The world is a dark enchanted garden with plants that bite, a ‘Dream Maker’ who wants to trap them by making them go to sleep and a huge vicious dog. 

My inspiration for the dog came from the Sherlock Holmes story ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.

One of my favourite nasty characters is 'The Snout' who guards one of the dungeons in the evil magician's fortress. 

Thankfully Sophie and Jun get through The Sixth Gateway with the help of Morgan, a wandering minstrel who appears several times in the story. The challenge for me was to make him helpful but in a mysterious sort of way.

Having ‘Real’ Characters

My two main children characters are Sophie and Jun. Although they have distinctive personalities, they are good friends so they have to have things in common. They are both intelligent and resourceful but whereas Sophie is a bit bossy and impulsive, Jun is more collaborative and thoughtful. By Book 2 Sophie has learnt to be more co-operative and that there is strength in working together.

Aisha, a close friend of Sophie and Jun, is quiet and not as confident as the other two. She admires Sophie and tends to support whatever she wants to do. The fourth child in ‘The Spy’s Door’ is Basil, Sophie’s younger cousin. 

He is very annoying and questions everything. But even he has something to offer in the end.

Through their different cultural backgrounds, personalities and dialogue I want the children reading the books to be able to relate to the main characters. Although children in the modern day would find it difficult to relate to the adventure worlds and fictional characters created by  Enid Blyton, when I read her books as a young child I found them very believable. 

'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' and 'The Lord of the Rings; were written decades ago, but the series of books and the films based on them are still popular today. What do you think helps them to endure?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Thoughts On Writing aTrilogy

Blog Update

Of course I’ve been very slow at writing another blog. Now that I’ve decided to focus on my writing process for the time being, it’s a challenge to reflect on how and why I got started. I’ve made lots of notes on the story as I went along but not really about my thoughts about the structure of the books. Anyway this blog is how I remember starting the trilogy.

Writing Three Books

When I started to write The Tenth Gateway I knew that I wanted to write a trilogy involving the magic game.

Firstly I had come up with the idea of children trapped in a magic game being pursued by an evil magician in one of the writing exercises I completed in The Australian Writer’s Centre online course about writing books for children.

I remembered some of the classic series favourites, for example: Enid Blyton’s stories of the Faraway Tree (lots of magic and fairy tale figures) and the Barnaby Books (lots of mystery and adventure); Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings - I must confess that I've seen the films but haven't yet read the books. A must for 2019.

Some more recent books that I have enjoyed are Emily Rodda’s Three Doors Trilogy. I loved it that if you changed one or more factors in the main story line, a new set of dynamics could unfold

Trilogies by Tolkein and Rodda
How To Do It?

I had never written a children’s book, let alone a trilogy but I had the story in my head and some ideas of what I would need to do.  Here are some of my ideas:

I had to create main characters that would work across three books.

I also had to introduce new characters or magical beings that would develop the story in different directions. 

Although the underlying story was about playing the magic game, the game had to remain a challenge with different pitfalls along the way.

There had to be a valid reason for the children to want to play the game for a second and a third time given it is so dangerous. 

The vocabulary and puzzles had to be at an appropriate level for age 8+ readers with each book adding a bit more complexity and reading challenge. 

Lastly, I had to make it a fun fantasy adventure. A little bit scary and mysterious but good wins out in the end.

The Light at the end of the tunnel....

Upon reflection, I’m amazed that I have actually finished and had published Book 1 (The Tenth Gateway) and Book 2 (The Spy’s Door) and given my inertia over summer, that my first rough draft of Book 3 is almost complete. I’m keeping the working title secret for now, just in case I change it.

I think that coming up with a title that says something about the story and is also enticing is challenging, but also fun to do. But like finding names for the characters finding something not already taken is very hard.

If you have any recommendations for me re trilogies written for children I would love to hear about them.

Between Books

  Taking a Break After I sent off the third book in my planned trilogy about the magical world of The Tenth Gateway I t...