Tom Palmer's writing blog - How I write: how you write, Part One autumn term
Posted by Tom Palmer
19 Sep 2011
The Big Idea
“The reason I want to write this book is because I am worried. In 2030 – when I am either old or dead – the ice may have gone from the Arctic and there could be trouble. That’s my big idea.”
I went on a research trip to the Arctic last week.
The book I am writing is set in the Arctic Circle. It’s about how the North Pole ice is melting. That’s bad for the world, as we know. It means sea levels will rise and polar bears will have nowhere to live, amongst other things.
But there’s another reason that the melting ice could be bad. When the ice is gone several countries want to start drilling for oil and gas up there.
Some people think that’s good: the world is going to run out of oil and gas, so it means we’ll get some more.
Other people think that’s bad. There are five countries that have a solid claim on the resources under the seabed in the Arctic. Norway. Canada. USA. Russia. And Denmark (because they own Greenland). Look at a world map and you’ll see that they are the countries that border the Arctic ice.
This could be bad because the five countries haven’t sorted out who owns the seabed up there.
Think about it. Say if you live in a house that shares a field with four other houses. Everyone plays out in that field and nobody knows who owns it. But it doesn’t matter. Until, that is, someone discovers gold buried under the field. Suddenly everyone will be claiming parts of the field for themselves.
In my story, the five countries that own the Arctic are working out who owns what. But someone else is trying to make trouble. They want the countries to go to war, so that they can sell them guns and bombs.
Five children, The Squad, have to stop the trouble-maker from starting a war.
The reason I want to write this book is because I am worried. In 2030 – when I am either old or dead – the ice may have gone from the Arctic and there could be trouble. That’s my big idea. If you’re ten now, you’ll be 29 in 2030. If there’s a war, it’ll be a dangerous world to live in.
Writers often write about things to do with their big idea. Take Michael Morpurgo. A lot of his books are about how war affects children and animals. It’s clear he hates war. That’s his big idea.
Or think about Jacqueline Wilson. Her stories are often about children in care or having a difficult time without someone to look out for them. That’s her big idea: vulnerable children.
If you were a writer, what would your big idea be?
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