Anthony Lugo discusses writing stories for kids
Category: Children’s books, Holiday Adventure
My initial ideas when writing stories for kids came from my experience in mental health and some of the people I met and worked with; funnily enough the work force was quirkier than the patients.
A writer’s characters will always be created from someone you know, even if you think they are not. Commonly, it will be a combination of several personalities of people you know or knew. Sometimes it will be people you don’t know, perhaps you will have noticed them on a bus or at a regular meeting place like the gym.
It’s always a clever idea to collect characters, especially the quirky ones. Us writers tend to look out for them and store them in the back of our minds or at least jot them down.
In the first instance, do not trust your ‘brilliant’ idea(s) – they tend to be fuelled by excitement and pop-up hysteria and the thought of being rich and famous; keep your feet on the ground and keep reevaluating your ideas. Ask your friends (the blunt ones) to run your idea(s) past them, 9 times out of 10, they’ll give you some constructive criticism.
My original idea: a fictional masterpiece for young adults somewhere between Harry Potter and The Hunger Games; a ghost story with a hero and some grizzly characters based on staff I had met during my mental health nursing experience.
This idea was scrapped and replaced by a more (so I thought at the time) simplistic idea for young children, ‘The Caravan Gang’. Of course, no idea (big or small) is simpler or easier; it’s all hard and very time consuming.
I read a lot, and therefore asked myself why I wasn’t spending the time I used to read, writing?
Well, it’s healthy to read and there are lots of themes and plot lines to base your ideas on loosely; it’s part of developing your style and focus.
I like a bit of Dan Brown and his short chapters system to get you through the book nice and steady. I took this concept into my own writing and got to know the length of a reasonable chapter; this tends to vary with books and usually a children’s chapter isn’t supposed to be long anyway.
This is one of the many reasons why I decided to switch to writing stories for kids as I thought I could write less (how wrong I was).
It’s a good idea to study all the aspects of writing a book (do not just come up with an idea and think you can write about it – study first). There are lots of good books out there to help you begin your research and give you the best chance of anyone taking notice; this is not a quick process, so be prepared for the long haul / bones before the muscle and skin.
I use this metaphor to help me through my writing: Frankenstein’s monster had to be put together piece-by-piece before bringing it to life. Once he was alive, he survived against all odds – and that’s exactly what it’s like when writing a book – a slow and steady process, but a rewarding one too.
I love the adventure and surprise when I have written something that comes from out ‘of the blue’. I love my work to be funny and adventurous. Humour, I think, is my strong point, and finding good characters. My experience in mental health has definitely helped there. I run a small bed and breakfast in the country with my wife, Caron, who puts up with my humour and allows me my writing time. We have been married for 10 years and have 6 children between us… more inspiration for characters.
‘The Caravan Gang’ by Anthony Lugo: