Today I am delighted to join the blog tour for Bears Don’t Wear Shoes and welcome a guest post from author and illustrator Sharon Davey describing her creative process.
How to write character led stories by Sharon Davey.
Character led stories are at the heart of picture book making and perfect for young readers who like to know whose point of view they are following from the very first page.
For me, most stories start with a character sketch that makes me laugh. It could be a penguin stuck in a teapot or a leopard sunbathing. Now to write the rest of the story.
I use the who, what, where and want approach.
Who – Suzy – the only child in a family of parents and grandparents. Also affectionately known as Dearie and Little Lady. She’s bubbly and playful with the confidence that only another pre-schooler would understand.
What – she’s a natural negotiator and creative organiser. She likes biscuits, painting and colouring and dressing up. She doesn’t like waiting.
Where – she’s between houses and feeling pretty worried about that.
And then we give her a problem.
Want – she wants a friend. Someone to play with and to persuade into doing her favourite activities.
A popular picture book sequence is to create a character, give them a problem, make it worse, resolve and end with a twist.
When you start with a character rather than a theme or story idea your biggest challenge is often how to end the story.
I find it useful to work your way through the problem.
Problem-Suzy wants a friend,
Worse -Suzy’s new friend is not as cooperative as she would like, and they disagree.
Resolve -Suzy learns to compromise, she loves Mr. Bear (Even without the shoes)
Twist – Suzy now wants to find a friend for her friend, for when she’s at school so he doesn’t get lonely.
If you create a super appealing character and are looking for a story to write around them try keeping it simple and following the problem all the way to the end.
Thank you so much Sharon for the insight into your writing process and for the use of your beautiful illustrations. I absolutely adored this book with its vibrant colours, lively protagonist and message of acceptance. It recognises a situation which raises anxieties in many children; will they find a friend as they start or change nursery, pre-school or school and resolves the problem with humour and empathy. Suzy is a delightfully appealing character and her interactions with Mr Bear reveal so much about their personalities. I particularly love the scene above where she is interviewing him for the position of best friend with all the confidence of a pre-schooler who has got their hands on a clip-board!
For me, this book had echoes of two classic picture books, The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Not Now Bernard; I heartily recommend that you add this to your picture book collection where I am sure it will be much loved by children from 3-6 and any adults with whom they share it!
I am grateful to New Frontier Publishing UK for inviting me to join this blog tour and for providing me with a review copy of Bears Don’t Wear Shoes, and to Sharon Davey for the guest post and artwork. Do read the other posts by a wonderful selection of book review bloggers on the tour throughout this week.