I had an amazing chance to hear Karen Cushman speak last week.
That is, twice Newbery-crowned lady of historical fiction, Karen Cushman of "The Midwife's Apprentice" and "Catherine, Called Birdy" shared her rules for writers.
Great stuff, indeed.
I felt my brain grow two sizes bigger as she drove home diligent concepts of
grace and flow in writing.
Inspired, I am hard at work...
or rather, I am in deep play with my characters.
I've discovered the Small family
is more complicated than I thought.
Think Jane Austen meets Dickens via modern paper dolls.
Remember the notoriously absent Mr. Small?
He took the train to work
the day after baby Ivy was born.
What with the Great Middlesborough Train Collision that very day on his line,
he is commonly thought
to be deceased.
The village of Dibbledip
is astir with eager gentlemen
all waiting for Millie Small to throw off her widow's weeds.
Boris Kerputnik, wealthy bachelor with ties to Russian royalty
in a silver Samovar.
He strolls by to hang over the fence
and chat about himself
while Millie hangs up her washing.
He does not do manual labor but has a wealth
of ideas on how Millie should tidy up the shambling yard
and shoe abode.
For her birthday Boris gave Millie a ruby necklace, fur cape and crocodile shoes.
With barely time to scrape herself off the floor at day's end,
Millie was not wooed.
She tucked his gift into the Pawn-pile to pay for groceries.
Writing advice I've heard from clever authors lately
that positively echoes with importance:
get to know your characters.
Get to know the main characters and small ones.
Find out what they eat, their favorite colors, their slang words, speech impediments, childhood heroes, secret fears, preferred methods of transport.
How do you get to know your characters?
We're trying paper-dolls and shoe-houses over here.
More Small stories later.
What are your secrets to knowing your characters?