I’ll be doing a day of creative writing workshops in a referral unit next week. We’ll be looking at how to create fictional characters that are engaging, larger than life and yet inspired by experience and real life at some level. Fiction that is completely unrelated to the real world doesn’t work. There has to be a relationship even if it is is oblique. That’s why Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude works so well and why his kind of writing is so difficult. Too may writers just set sail into their own private fantasy world leaving the reader on the shore wondering quite what’s going on in their heads. There must be some sense of shared experience.
I have visited about fifty schools this year—a fascinating experience. Many children have a natural and elegant way of blending the real and the imaginary. One boy began a story with the words , ‘as I was walking home from the tattoo parlour.’ That intriguing sentence led into story with engaging twists and turns, told with a light touch and plenty of humour. Children know intuitively, or from experience perhaps, that chaos is always just about to knock on the door.