St Francis sponsor Marlborough Literature Festival

Caroline Lawrence
at the Marlborough Literature Festival 2014

Litfest web

Caroline Lawrence appeared at the 2014 Marlborough Literature Festival, in an event sponsored by St Francis.  It was a jolly entertaining way to spend a Saturday morning!  The author of The Roman Mysteries, Caroline, talked about her inspiration and where and how she liked to work.  She invited all of the young readers there to become writers and she shared her top tips to formulate a hero and seven steps to writing a good story.

Tip 1 – The formula for a good hero and complimentary characters goes something like this:

You (your name) + a character + Achilles’ heel. For example, you might take the name Adam and use the surname Skywalker and your Achilles’ heel or weakness might be the fact that you are impulsive and that you can’t help thinking about cars all of the time.  Or you might be Jojo of Arundel and your Achilles heel means that everything you touch turns to ice.  The hero is allowed to be a baddie (think Despicable Me).
Every hero needs a faithful sidekick. Now, it might be a dog called Snowy or Dusky, or a horse called Bullseye or Corde or it might just be a faithful friend and not an animal at all, like Dr Watson.  The most important thing about the sidekick is that he or she or it, must possess qualities that the hero doesn’t.
The Funny One. Every story needs someone to diffuse the tension when things are tense.  The sidekick can provide this: think Ron in Harry Potter.
The Wild One. This character is perhaps part-animal: Chewbacca, Hagrid, or the Lion in the Wizard of Oz are good examples.  Sometimes, this character can betray the hero.
The Mentor. Often this is a man with a beard, who provides a talisman.  Dumbledore springs to mind but so does Yoda, who gives Luke a light sabre.

Tip 2 – Steal from the Greek Myths.  The basis for so many great stories, they are told and retold.

Tip 3 – Choose a cool setting.

Tip 4 – Follow the seven plot ‘beats’ of a good story.

Desire (this needs to be specific and visible, the hero needs this to be able to and to want to solve the problem)
Opponent (the bad guy!)
PLAN (journey)
Battle (conflict, climax or clash)
Knowledge (the hero gets this as his or her reward)
New level (the happy or sad ending). If the hero doesn’t win, the story becomes a tragedy.
Right at the end, Caroline threw in one more idea, she called it the ‘rubber ducky’.  This was something that haunted the hero from the past.

Tip 5 – Use artefacts or objects.
Caroline shared the details of her own favourite artefact – the Roman poo stick (don’t ask)!  She talked about her new books and read the fantastic opening of her new book, The Case of The Deadly Desperados, in her fantastic best cowboy accent!

Caroline Lawrence could easily have kept us entertained for a further hour but when it was time to go, we had an opportunity to ask her to sign our books.

Review by parent, Kay Kiggell.