I wanna tell you a story

But before that, comes the research.

One of the motivations for going freelance was the opportunity to try writing a children’s book and, since Christmas, I’ve spent some more time on that.

Lately, I read more children’s picture books than your seven year old and feel utterly conspicuous as a lone male in the low-shelved, beanbag section of the local library. The librarian is a mere heartbeat away from hitting the DEFCON 5 Social Services alert, I’m sure.

There’s also lots of “how to write a book” research. Sadly, I know I can’t just bash out 500 words, FedEx them to Penguin and expect a seven figure deal. Some research is kid’s book specific, some is more general, like the infamous Robert McKee Story principles.

Story is aimed at screenwriters but it’s an important book – even if you don’t agree with it all. As a result, I know exactly what my protagonist’s previous four decades of life were like, even though I seriously doubt we’ll have any time-travel adventures.

And then, as of this week, there’s some new research – I started volunteering as a reading buddy at a local primary school. I’m already psyched to see there’s still The Witches, still Charlotte’s Web, still Stig Of The Dump. Getting to hear first-hand what kids think about books will be ace. I hope I can transmit some of my enthusiasm onto them too.

In preparation for the school visits, I bought Garth Jennings’ new children’s book, The Deadly 7, which came out last week. Garth used to make achingly brilliant pop videos, back in the day when making achingly brilliant pop videos was what we all aspired towards. Then he directed the Hitchhiker’s Guide film and made Son of Rambow. Now he’s locked away in the studios of the Despicable Me makers, rustling up a new animation. Can’t wait.

Garth’s an insanely enthusiastic guy to listen to, you can’t help but get carried along with him, so if the book’s written in the same vein – and the jacket description suggests it might be – it’ll be a riot. Of course, I’m only reading it for research…

RESEARCH QUESTION: Tell me, what do your kids love reading right now? Or what books did you love as a child?

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  4 comments for “I wanna tell you a story

  1. Russell Wilson
    22nd January 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Chris, my nephews love me reading them Potter and Rings as I do all the voices. They are 8 and 10. Always find they are more engaged if you put effort in.

    I’m a keen bookworm myself and positive it was down to my Mum reading to me and taking me to local library. I started on usual stuff Mr Men, Ladybird, Munch Bunch, the learning tree. On that last one I found the talking tree slightly creepy but fascinating. This may have put me on a path to love of horror/science fiction. Also enjoyed A Mazing Monsters which again appealed to me as the stories could be twisted. Def recommend you seek them out. Even Mog the cat had dark moments which I remember. I guess in summary I liked to be scared as well as entertained. Wonder if kids still do at that young age??

    • chrisparsonswrites
      23rd January 2015 at 8:43 am

      Thanks for the comment Russell – some great inspiration in here!

      I’m with you on the getting taken to the library thing, I used to love those trips to see what I might find. I wonder what percentage of kids still get to do that? E-books and tablets have changed the landscape somewhat.

      I’d never heard of the A Mazing Monsters books so looked them up – they look fantastic! I love that the author’s son did the illustrations. I’m sure you’d never get away with that now but they’re really good, really expressive. I see you can now buy all the books as a box set – you must be tempted???

      I definitely remember Mog books being a bit dark too. I’m sure some kids do still enjoy that but definitely not all, judging by my own family experience.

      I wonder if anyone else knows kids that like to read a little bit of a gentle fright?

  2. Andy Morrison
    23rd January 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Hi Chris

    Pereseverance is the key stick at it and you’ll be fine. About the research there was an episode of Celebrity American Apprentice with Gary Bussey in it where the had to create a childrens book.

    Gary Bussey & a childrens book the mind boggles I know bit you should try and see if you get it on catch up anywhere well worth a watch and will help you in your endeavours


    Mr Mo

    • chrisparsonswrites
      23rd January 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks for the words of encouragement Andy, and indeed for the unexpected American Apprentice recommendation! I just looked that episode up – it already reads like a very bizarre story!

      Are there any more TV programmes about storywriting out there?

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