Tom Palmer's writing blog - How I write: how you write. Part Three
Posted by Tom Palmer
16 May 2011
"At half time in a game one of the boys took his boots off and started sewing them up. He couldn’t afford new boots"
I’ve been writing scenes set in Poland this month. Most of The Squad is set in Poland, during the days before the 2012 European Championships. The book will be published before our teams (hopefully) head off to take part in that tournament, so I thought it would be good to set it there.
When I write a story set in a foreign country it is really important to me to get my facts right. I set Off Side (the third Foul Play book) in Ghana. I’d never been to Ghana and didn’t know very much about the country. I could have tried to write about it without actually going there, looking things up on the internet, etc. But nothing is as good as going to a place. So I went there.
If you go to a new place and just sit, you see so much. It gives you ideas for what to put in your stories. And it tells you things you can’t put in. Details. Facts. Colour.
Going to Ghana was the best decision I could have made. I needed to know about young Ghanaian footballers. While I was there I met several and talked to them about their lives. I also watched them play football.
I’ll always remember one thing; at half time in a game one of the boys took his boots off and started sewing them up. He couldn’t afford new boots, so he had to repair them midway through a game. I could never have made that up. It was a great detail that I was able to put in the book.
Poland was the same last month. I went to Krakow where the book is set. I took lots of photos, so that when I was home and writing I could see what the town looked like, also the football stadium and a few buildings, as you can see:
The picture of the church was really important. When I was sitting near the church, I heard a trumpet. Then 15 minutes later I heard it again. I found out that a real trumpeter plays a tune from the church tower every 15 minutes all day and all night. That’s when I had the idea that the whole novel turns around. It worked perfectly.
If I had not gone to Poland I would never have had that idea. So that alone was worth the trip.
Now I hope I will have written a novel that represents Poland well. I know there are a lot of Polish children living in the UK, so I have to get my facts spot on.
Next week's blog is about how I am going to use a video game this week to help me write some action scenes.
Schools Network members can also download a classroom activity related to this blog entry. View.
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