Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Fiction Workshop 7 Character

The Stephen King Method

Just puts two characters together and sees what happens.
However, analyse his plots and they are technically perfect.
Many writers however find that stories produced this way lack structure.

Story comes from character anyway

We’ve already seen this partly already. Our story comes out of the conflict amongst characters and between the main character and his / her environment.

Know your characters well – recipe for a character

We must at the very least:
         Know what they look like.
         Know how their mind works.
         Know what they like and don’t like.
         Know how they spend their time.
         Know how their emotions balance.
         Appreciate their good points.
         Forgive them their bad points.
         Know what their main motivation is in this story.
         Know how they have changed by the end.

Now try this:

Take about thirty minutes to work on the questions.
Answer the following for two characters in your story. Write in continuous prose: if you feel you need to add a little more, then do so.  


  1. What do they look like?
  2. How old are they?
  3. Are they very sporty?


  1. What are they or were they good at at school?
  2. What is their personality like?
  3. Which newspaper would they read if they were an adult in our world?


  1. What do they like?
  2. What don’t they like?
  3. What are they most afraid of?


  1. What is their main aim in this story?

How do they change by the end?

Now put what you have written on one side and write a short scene between the two characters.
Get someone else to read your scene.
How well do they understand your characters? (i.e. – how well have you written them?)     

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Schellberg Cycle Workshop at Hartford High School 31 March 2017

The students at Hartford High Church of England were enjoying their second citizenship day just before they broke up for Easter. Staff had contacted me as a result of an email shot I sent early in 2017. They were holding a citizenship day and could I deliver my workshop to six classes. 

Normally, I work with one group of up to 36 students but this time other staff delivered my materials. I did a session at the beginning and at the end. In retrospect I think these were too long: one hour each. They should have been no more than twenty minutes each. I wandered around form group to group.

I prepared lengthy notes for the teachers and this has given me the idea that I might actually sell the workshop as a package for teachers to deliver themselves. I’m offering the notes here as a free gift if you sign up for the newsletter. If you purchase a pack or book a workshop, you automatically go on the newsletter list. This means you get free updates and new free materials and special offers on workshops.               
As always, whenever I’m in a classroom, I get new ideas. I’m now going to add discovery packs to the workshop. These will be packets of documents such as ration cards, pictures of the BDM uniform, newspaper reports etc. I’ll make twelve altogether so there is an element of choice, and make sure that there are six males and six females. Students will work in groups to present more information to the rest of their class about their character. I’m also going to prepare more guidance about the creative writing outputs.

When schools book a workshop they get:
·         Letters to send out to parents about my book The House on Schellberg Street (I handle all sales and all monies)
·         Board games (I take these home again afterwards – everything else they get to keep but the discovery packs I’ll also take home again)
·          Speed-dating character exercise
·         Letter-writing character exercise
·         The final chapter of Clara’s Story  and Questions and Answers
·         Hanna Braun’s Letters and a form to fill in about what they discover.   
·         (Discovery packs will go here)
·         Q & A for the final session and suggested creative outcomes.
·         A memory stick with all of the materials on it.
·         Updates on the project thereafter.    

Sign up here for the newsletter and get to read the teachers’ notes. There are further notes on each section of the workshop, available on request.    

I was impressed with how hard the students worked. They listened extremely well and worked hard in their sessions. A very rewarding day all told.   

You can read more about the Schellberg Cycle here.