Friday, October 25, 2013

What Thomas the Train Taught Me About Writing...

Okay, maybe by now you're thinking I've just watched one too many pre-k movies. But today I went to a "Day out with Thomas" event with my boys. From the moment we got into the shuttle to take us to the "real" Thomas train who was hooked up to the front of a real train, it was like we were being taken to Disneyland. There was magic! There was suspension of disbelief! The shuttle was filled with kids, mostly boys, under the age of five. You could practically feel the anticipation. As we drove down the road, our driver pointed to the left. "There's Thomas! Can you see him?"

Everyone looked.

Then there were gasps. My three year old looked. Looked up at his dad. Looked again. Finally looked at me so I could see the expression I'd known I'd see there. Disbelief and delight, all mixed.

The character he loved so much was real.

We took pictures with Thomas once we got to where he was. We took a ride in one of the passenger cars (which, if you're a Thomas fan, were not actually Annie and Clarabel, but we called them that anyway...). We played all kinds of games, shopped in the gift shop, and met Sir Topham Hatt (who is the superintendent of the railway, in case you don't have kids. Or you have girls. Haha.).

The only thing that could have made it better is if it were on the Island of Sodor itself, a made-up place that I would totally go to for vacation if it was real. Seriously. Watch the intro to a Thomas movie. It has mountains, beaches, and trees where the birds sing! Anyway...

My point here is to watch the details in your stories. It was SO fun to see Thomas today, because he's the main character in the movies. And he almost seems real! Especially if you're three. But if it was just Thomas, kids wouldn't love the show so much. The other characters are believable and multi-dimensional too. And the setting, like I said, is phenomenal. Yeah, they had to make up their own island to make it so epic, but still.

So make sure in your stories that it's not just your main character who shines, but ALL of your characters, all of the places in your story. Make them REAL to us. Make them real to you first.

I told my husband the other day that my character's favorite flower is bird of paradise. That's not what she'd say if asked. She'd say daisies or roses. Something safe and expected. But deep in her heart, she's a bird of paradise type of girl.

My husband raised his eyebrows, said if I was thinking of stuff like that, maybe Norah was becoming too real. To which I said "Isn't that the point? If she's not real to me, how can she be real to them?"

So which do you need more work on--secondary characters? Or setting?

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