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Isobelle Carmody p2

Some more great writing tips from fantasy and young-adult novellist Isobelle Carmody at the Brisbane Oz Comic-Con...

Not only did you need lots of questions as a writer, but this was especially the case with writing for children and adolescents. You had to share the questions with them: questions that were real for you once. And you must not have the answers for them, as it shuts them out of the story.
Or you might have concerns about a topic, like social media, but you should not write directly about that topic. She said issue novels were not the way to write about issues. Advice is arrogance, she said. You needed humility. You had to listen to the character. You had to look at the world around the character and not know all about that world. Don’t answer all the questions; leave that for the audience to do.
It was like letting her brothers and sisters into the story when they played The Monster Game when she was a teenager. They fought with each other to find hiding places: they brought something to the story.
A story involved a character struggling with something around them in the world. But it was also good to start with a character’s inabilities, maybe your own inabilities, which they also struggle with.
Ms Carmody said she had to know what a place looked like when she was writing about it, and eventually thought about a map and a genealogy. She didn’t believe in making a geographic map to start with. She must have been there already, before the map is produced. She said a map doesn’t take you everywhere. Like at a hypothetical comic-con, the map won’t tell you which aisle is blocked or closed.
Have characters react the way you would react. Or react the way that character would react. And characters have an arc sometimes, where they change over the course of the story, so you must have the character react the way they would at that stage of their change. Characters not only undergo a physical journey, but also a mental, emotional and spiritual journey.
And if the character doesn’t react the way they should, have a good reason why they react that way.
[Wikipedia says a character arc is where a character changes from one type of character to another as a result of responses to developments in a story. Some e.g.s might be: A Christmas Carol: Ebenezer Scrooge is a miser. He is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. He becomes remorseful, then generous;
Bible: Saul of Tarsus persecutes Christians, is confronted by God, changes his name to Paul and starts preaching Christianity;
Astronaut Scott Kelly in his memoir Endurance: A year in space, a lifetime of discovery, talks about being an average student, then reading Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff and deciding to be an astronaut. He realises he’ll have to study harder, and cut out partying. Inspired by his mother’s efforts to make the police force, he sets goals and gets there;
Star Wars: Han Solo starts off a selfish space pirate and through a romance with Princess Leia and friendship with Luke Skywalker, he changes his attitude and ends up going out of his way to help the rebels.]
Ms Carmody said this changing of character could also be a long and gradual process.

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-copyright Simon Sandall