Part of being a writer is meeting people and listening to their stories to add ideas to your own story.
I’ve spent time researching an idea I have for a book set in America in the 1930s. The internet has been invaluable for articles, audio records and photographs. But so have people who were alive then, like Sylvia who is ninety years old. She lent me the diary she wrote when she was aged ten. It had knock knock jokes, lists of presents she received, games played, movies seen and descriptions of people she knew.
Jim and Nancy shared their childhood experiences too and I wrote everything down in my notebook over a meal that lasted three hours. The chocolate ice cream dessert in the photograph was mine and not theirs!
My book is at the stage when I write the main things in each chapter on post-it notes and move my ideas around until I am completely happy with it. Then I use ten different coloured post-it note pads, give each character a colour and for each chapter, write down how he or she will behave, what they would achieve, feel and do. I now have a detailed plan to follow.
I was in Florida and spent time at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota working with students studying creative writing. I shared with them the process books go through before being published, then we made up a story together about a competition to build a structure with cotton wool buds (or Q-Tips as they are called in America). Great fun to do.
So thank you to all the lovely people I’ve met recently!