Tom Palmer's writing blog - How I write: how you write, Part Five autumn term
Posted by Tom Palmer
7 Nov 2011
“If characters were either completely bad or utterly good, they’d be boring. They’d be predictable.”
This week I have been writing a chapter in which the British Prime Minister is a character. I’ve not named him, but it’s a man a bit like David Cameron or Tony Blair. Quite young. Smooth-talking. A bit posh.
I love basing my characters on real people. For a start, I think real people are much more interesting than made up ones. They aren’t so clean cut good or bad.
Some people don’t like David Cameron. Some people do. He’s the kind of person who is not all good or all bad. Perfect for a book. If characters were either completely bad or utterly good, they’d be boring. They’d be predictable.
And that is a really important thing in a book: whether it’s predictable or not. If you knew exactly what was going to happen in a story it would be boring. You need to be surprised, shocked, upset by things you’d not foreseen.
I think Roald Dahl was the best author at this. Whenever you read one of his books you can never confidently predict what will happen on the next page, can you?
Think about it.
That is what I’m trying to do with the British Prime Minister in my book. In public he is kind and thoughtful, smiling and happy. But, when he’s under pressure, he might be different. He might get angry with some of the people he works with. He might lie to get someone to do something. He might have a dark secret of his own.
With my Prime Minister character I’m having to add extra things to make him seem more interesting. Dark secrets that someone so powerful might have.
Writers have to do that too. They take a real person as a start for a character. Then add more details to make them more interesting, evil or – even – nicer.
Schools Network members can also download a classroom activity related to this blog entry. View.
Read Tom’s daily blog from his website at http://www.tompalmer.co.uk/.
- Assessment without levels : a golden opportunity or a nightmare in the making?
- Local Government’s Role in Education: the way forward in 2013
- Supporting struggling readers and writers at secondary school: the three P's
- A new curriculum, a new definition for literacy?
- Fairly represented or not? Footballers can be role models
- Boom in literacy activity in Peterborough as Pop-up Literacy Hub attracts thousands in Literacy news by Joanna Franks
- Sign up for new and enhanced Premier League Reading Stars 2015-16 in Literacy news by Danielle Wright
- New OECD report highlights skills gap in the UK in Literacy news by Danielle Wright
- National Literacy Trust partners with Routledge to launch Support for schools in Literacy news by Liam Johnson
- Chitty takes off with 16,000 hours of reading! in Literacy news by Gemma Niebieszczanski
Blogs by the same author
- Five things adults can do to get kids reading for pleasure during the World Cup in Blog by Tom Palmer
- Why the World Cup draw matters to schools in Blog by Tom Palmer
- Tom Palmer Euro 2012 blog, part three: Literacy begins at home in Blog by Tom Palmer
- Tom Palmer Euro 2012 blog, part two: Confessions of a school-visiting author in Blog by Tom Palmer
- Tom Palmer Euro 2012 blog, part one: Reading Euro 2012 in Blog by Tom Palmer