I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a mum on the run. (Kristy sings Baby Shark). I love filters because it means I don’t have to put any makeup on. Back in the day, I studied film, and it would take us ages to get our talent ready. We’d have to put their makeup on, we’d have to set up the lights. But now, we have amazing filters. So, no make up for me, no lights for me, just this filter. You should see what I really look like in the mornings! Today I’m going to talk about my process of writing books for kids. So first, I have a film and TV degree. That helps a little because I know how to write scripts. Second, I’ve read a lot of books about writing. That helps a lot too. The book I like the best about writing is The Hero’s Journey, because it shows me the structure of a story broken down into sections. My friend Katheryn Lefroy told me about Invisible Ink, which is the Pixar way of writing stories. This helps a lot too, to think about character and plot. And every new writer always reads Stephen King's book on writing … I’ve forgotten what it’s called, but I’ll put it in the video. So, the first thing I do when I want to write a story is work out my characters. Who are they? And because I write chapter books and junior fiction, the main character is usually always a little boy, or a little girl, or a little person. I need to build a journey for my character or an arc. I need to have the character start in one spot and either go up with enjoyment and end in a happier place, or go down with sadness and end in a sadder place. Or go down and then up and end up in a happy place. As long as my character goes on a journey, then I’ve done what I am supposed to do. So, I think about all my characters this way. So, who is the enemy? Or who is the person or the character or the feeling or the emotion or the problem that the main character has to overcome? And that’s the key to making the story interesting. There has to be conflict. I like to develop characters that aren’t cliche. If I develop a character that feels like it might be a girl or it feels like it might be a boy, I like to switch those up. If I develop a character that’s cheeky and sassy, then maybe they’re not the kid that always gets in trouble, or maybe they are. So, I just have a think about what people normally think a character would do or be and then I try to switch it up a bit. You know, give it a bit of spark or spunk. Usually, I look for inspiration. I’ll search the web for pictures that remind me of my character. I’ve even hired an illustration off Fiverr to draw my characters to get me moving. Once I’ve worked out who my characters are and stuck some reference pictures around my room, that’s when I turn back to the Writer’s Journey, and I plot out the story. You need to have one main idea, something that the characters do, something they are going to achieve. I like to think about my setting as well. How is my setting involved in the story? Then once I’ve kind of got that idea, then I plot out each section of the book, each chapter. I use the Writer’s Journey to do that. I make post-it-notes, and I do the world before things change, then I move into the middle section where the world changes, and then I go towards the end where I really “up” the ante. Lots of conflict and lots of quests and lots of problems to overcome, and then at the end we come back to the real world. And the characters need to change. They need to learn something. They need to be different in a way that a reader can identify. Once I’ve got my story worked out, then I write. I just see where it takes me and I try not to worry about it. I try to get through a full draft. And then I can worry about it and do some edits. Maybe I can punch out a first draft in 6 months. But then showing it to people, getting constructive criticism, finding out what works and what doesn’t work, making changes, re-writing, editing, re-writing again … it’s a vicious cycle that goes on forever. The hardest part for me is getting the time to write. With two kids and a job and a house and a family and an extended family … it’s almost impossible finding time to write. That’s definitely my biggest hurdle.