Experience 2: Author
Doing work experience with an author is a pretty tricky thing. Obviously most of what they do is write! Having someone looking over your shoulder while you’re doing it could be somewhat awkward. Luckily for me Ally Blake – Author had just submitted her latest book to be published and was in the very early stages of planning the second book of her latest series. Perfect timing!
What did I do?
A lot of what we did this week was talk. I don’t usually have a problem with that so we were off to a good start!
Ally talked about the way she plans her writing. Back in the early days she’d cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers and make a collage of them which she’d put on the wall. When she was ready to start writing she’d look at her storyboard, which would help her to put herself into the setting and feel the characters. Fast forward to today’s advances in technology, and Ally does exactly the same thing but uses Pinterest to find images for her storyboards instead. She has one for the hero, one for the heroine, and another for the setting amongst others.
As Ally already had an idea of what she wanted her male and female characters to look like, I had the job of finding images of a certain breed of dog on Pinterest and creating a word document to file them all. I was also looking for pictures of hinterland landscapes and towns, to help her build ideas around the setting for the story.
As well as getting an idea of the look of characters and settings in her stories, Ally gives a lot of thought to the background and personalities of her hero and heroine. She considers such things as:
- Their name
- Their family (brothers/sisters etc)
- Romantic history
- The car they drive
- Important things from their past (which is often the reason they don’t do things in the future – eg parents die young, a tragic event)
- Each character’s Goal/Motivation/Conflict (this is an important one, as according to Ally a character’s internal conflict is what drives a book)
It was fun for me to offer Ally my ideas for some of the above. I suggested a couple of dog names…hopefully one of them makes it into the book!
What did I learn?
As well as learning how to create boards on Pinterest, I was able to get an understanding of the way Ally likes to organise herself for writing. According to her, the plot of her stories usually follows the formula:
- Boy meets girl
- Stuff happens
- Happy ending
In her stories, Ally always starts with a dialogue or a point of action, as she likes to get the hero and heroine on the page immediately to engage the reader. The characters always meet in a memorable way. She calls it a ‘cute meet’, and said that in real life often people have a cute story they can share about the way they met. Because of this, she believes you can never run out of stories to tell.
Most often Ally’s books develop from a tiny idea that grows as she writes. She’ll often chip away at her stories, and although she does her initial planning and thinking about the character and settings, it can always change along the way. I love that Ally likes to surprise herself while she’s writing. It makes sense to me that you could think of events throughout the journey of writing a book that can alter the course of the story from what you thought it would be. In other words, pretty much anything can happen.
I learnt from Ally (and from writing these blog posts I have to say!) that writing takes a lot of patience and time. It is all about writing and rewriting.
If you’d like to get some insight into being an author, or have ever thought about becoming one, please head to the Interviews page or click here, to read my interview with Ally.