Please welcome award-winning author Fiona Ingram

Our Choices guest today is Fiona Ingram while on her WOW! Women on Writing tour of The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper – the third in the series of award-winning books for middle grade students. Please help me welcome Fiona.

I also welcome her thoughts about writing for kids – something I’ve never attempted. Here are her wise words about how to create characters kids will relate to.

Writing and Creating Characters

by Fiona Ingram

Creative writing for kids is one of the most challenging and fulfilling aspects of the classroom. Many teachers who are not writers may struggle to explain the nuts and bolts of writing in relation to the imaginative and creative process involved in making a story. Children may also not grasp the solid hard work involved in creating the structure and plot of a good story. Here are some easy tips to make the creative writing process both successful and fun.

Writing can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life. There are many reasons a person decides to write: to share their life’s experiences, to tell a good story, to express the feelings and situations of others … the list is endless. Some people even write just for fun. I wrote my first book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, because I visited Egypt with my two young nephews and wanted to write a short story to help them remember a special time. To my surprise, the short story turned into a book, and then a book series. So, you never know what’s going to happen once you begin!

Any good story is composed of a really gripping plot and realistic, believable characters.

• How to Choose a Great Story Topic: You may think, “But what can I write about?” Write about what you know best, or what excites you, or what you enjoy. You’ll find that when you are keen on something—it can be an activity, a place, an event, or a person (real or imaginary)—it becomes easier to write. Do you love reading about faraway exciting places? Then research a place you find interesting and set your story there. Do you enjoy mysteries? Think about something that’ll keep people guessing. Are you good at a skill or a sport? Set your story around a character with those abilities.

• Plot Comes First: Everyone has their own ideas, but I believe the plot should come first. What’s the point of great characters if they sit around and don’t achieve very much. So, step one, write your plot down in a few words (that’s all you need). “My story is about (name) who manages to (do something special) and goes on to (achieve a great goal).” Example from my book: Two cousins go to Egypt with their Aunt Isabel and their Gran and are given an ancient scarab that plunges them into a whirlpool of exciting events. I have my two main characters, two secondary characters, a great location (open to all kinds of amazing events), an important object, and … well, the amazing events are up to my imagination.

• How to Construct your Storyline: Structure is very important otherwise you’ll end up writing away like crazy but forget some vital detail here and there, and your story will fall to pieces. Sit down and draw your storyline—remember, you have already written it down in a few words. You may not stick to it exactly, but it’s important to map out where the story is going. You don’t want to give away the plot too soon or tell the reader everything all at once. So begin with a simple 3-point system: The Beginning (your hero appears—what is he doing? What does he want to achieve?); the Middle (something will happen to him and he has to …?); the Ending (your hero resolves the situation). From those three vital points you will fill in your other plot points—how did… why did… what happens next.

• Make Your Characters as Interesting as Possible: Tip: take them from real life examples. You could write about someone like yourself, or else model the characters on friends at school, teachers, or other people you know. The dialogue between your characters is also important because that’s one place to develop the plot line. Their interaction will reveal the chain of events as the characters work out various situations. Don’t forget to break your dialogue with various activities so that readers don’t get bogged down in lots of talking but no action.

• Make Your Information to the Reader as Interesting as Possible: You can do this by weaving it into the story. Don’t say that it’s cold. Get your character to shiver because he left his jacket at home. You can set the scene around your characters by using adjectives and adverbs to enhance your descriptions and actions but don’t overdo it. The reader is also going to use his or her imagination, so don’t overload your writing with too many descriptions. At the same time, your reader is not in your head, so you must help the reader along by using your five senses to engage theirs: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell. Is your hero in a hot, exotic climate? He (or she) will be sweating, the sounds will be different, the taste of the food unusual, etc. Is your heroine (or hero) in a strange place—what is she experiencing? e.g. confusion, anxiety, excitement, or curiosity? Is she hungry or thirsty? Create the environment for your readers, so they appreciate exactly what the hero is experiencing.

• The Hard Part: If you love what you’re writing about, and you trust your imagination, then writing will be as fun and exciting as you can imagine. However, two important elements must never be forgotten: research and grammar.

Research will be necessary whether your story is set in the real world, or if it’s an imaginary, fantasy, or sci-fi land. Make notes before and during your writing process. Your heroes are likely to be around your own ages, so think about how they are going to get places and achieve things. If they are travelling, are they alone (not likely) and will they need assistance (possibly)? If they are in a foreign country, then make sure your facts are accurate. How did they get there, who are they with, and how are they going to accomplish their task/challenge? If it’s a fantasy setting, then make sure you don’t lose track of your characters and the various places and items found in your fantasy world. Make your own research notes relevant to your fantasy land.

Grammar and spelling are very important otherwise your readers will never get through the first few pages. They’ll get bogged down in bad grammar and terrible spelling, so make sure you use your spelling and grammar check on your computer (if you’re using one) and your dictionary and style guide (if you’re writing by hand). In any case, you’ll have to check everything yourself because sometimes computers will accept a word that is spelled right but is the wrong word for the sentence or context.

A final piece of advice: writing should be fun and exciting. Just enjoy yourself and let your imagination take you to places you only ever dreamed about.

***

Book Summary

A plane crash! Lost in the jungle! Hunted by their old enemy, will Adam, Justin, and Kim survive long enough to find the Third Stone of Power? With only a young boy, Tukum, as their guide, the kids make their way through the dense and dangerous jungle to find the lost city of stone gods, where the Stone of Power might be located. River rafting on a crocodile-infested river and evading predators are just part of this hazardous task. Of course, their old adversary Dr. Khalid is close behind as the kids press on. But he is not the worst of their problems. This time Adam will clash with a terrible enemy who adopts the persona of an evil Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca, and is keen to revive the ancient tradition of human sacrifice. Adam, Justin, and Tukum must play a dreadful ball game of life and death and maybe survive. Will they emerge alive from the jungle? Will Dr. Khalid find the third Stone of Power before they do?

The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper is available to purchase on Amazon.com.

Print Length: 318 Pages

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Adventure

Publisher: Bublish, Incorporated (November 2017)

ISBN: 978-1946229465

About the Author

Fiona Ingram is a children’s author, but up until a few years ago, she was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked her new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with her mother and two young nephews. They had a great time and she thought she’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, she had changed careers. She has now published Book 3 (The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper) in her middle grade adventure series Chronicles of the Stone, with many awards for the first book,

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, and a few for Book 2, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and one already for Book 3! She also teaches online novel writing for aspiring authors and she finds that very satisfying. Relaxation time finds her enjoying something creative or artistic, music, books, theatre or ballet. She loves doing research for her book series. Fiona loves animals and has written two animal rescue stories. She has two adorable (naughty) little dogs called Chloe and Pumpkin, and a beautiful black cat called Bertie.

You can find Fiona at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/secretofthesacredscarab/

Website: www.chroniclesofthestone.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/FionaRobyn

Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com

Blog: http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2868182.Fiona_Ingram

Thanks for being at Choices today. Please let us know your thoughts and experience about writing for kids. 

Comments

  1. Many thanks for hosting me on your wonderful site! I hope my article will prove to be useful to teachers and even parents wanting to encourage youngsters to try their hand at creative writing.

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      You are very welcome, Fiona. It is my pleasure to have you here. Your article is very interesting and helpful.

  2. Great guest post!! I have never tried writing for kids before. I know that, with adult lit, I meet my characters first and the plot comes after. But for children, I can see how it would be the other way around 🙂 Thanks for sharing this!

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      Thanks for your interest Megan. I think you and I will both have to try writing for kids. I wish you huge success with it. Madeline

    • Fiona Ingram says:

      Hi Megan and Ginger, this post is aimed at youngsters wanting to try their hand at writing and I have found that sometimes kids don’t have enough experience to understand how to build characters, until they have a story to set the scene.

  3. DJ Sakata says:

    Love the colorful book cover

  4. Great to get to know Fiona. Lovely guest post.

  5. I will share this post with my sister who is a teacher, thank you!

    • Fiona Ingram says:

      Many thanks! She is the best person to share it with and I hope it inspires her to try the tips on her class.

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