A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Main character: I really need to develop you. It’s no good, you’re sounding and acting far too much like me, your creator. Sometimes you behave too much like that favourite fictional character of mine, or even another character I’ve created myself. This really can’t go on. You need a mind and motivation all of your own. I’m sure you agree.
Frankly, I’ve put off developing you further because I’ve been far too excited by your plot. And, if I’m honest, the suggestion to ‘develop more’ often panics me a little. Partly because I don’t always understand what it means (develop more? Why, what’s wrong with you?). Partly because I might draw in extra layers and end up with a version of you that no longer connects with the story or its setting – or (the fear that lurks) you become plainly unlikeable.
So I think there’s only thing one thing for it – we’ve reached that ominous midway point up the mountain where I need to break off from my journey and plan it again. It’s time to poke deeper inside your grey matter. I must put you on the couch.
Sit down, lie back. Eyes closed? Optional. Wait a minute, let me just hang up my own emotional baggage firmly outside the door. Don’t want any awkward transference or projection do we, after all this isn’t an autobiography (well, not directly). So, are you comfortable? Good. Then let’s begin.
If we can start with the basics. Tell me again about your family. Habits. Friends. Dislikes. Pets who died. Holidays you loved. Favourite films (Really? That’s my favourite film too. Maybe you need to find another one.)
Describe yourself. Okay, that’s slightly different from how I see you. And I never knew you had a birthmark there.
Moving onto the aspirational. What is it you want? Yes, I know we’ve done that before, but humour me. And for how long have you wanted that and WHY?
I must ask, Is what you want the same as what you need? No? Good.
Now, if we can take a look at significant past incidents – what happened and when and why and what has it meant to you?
I apologise in advance, but can we also weave in a bit of: And how did that make you feel?
And the way you see life – Is there a script you have learnt from others, to deal with situations and people and emotions? Ah, yes, my grandma used to say that too. But your foster mum’s approach is new to me. That’s yours.
Going deeper still. What’s scarred you? Who’s hurt you? What’s your worst fear? (mine too, but I’ll let you have that one) What tears you apart?
Attachment theory? Really? You poor thing. How did that make you behave?
Okay, and to put it all in context. What’s going on right now? And what are you going to do, and why?
Oh, look at the clock, your hour’s up. You go and do something fun (sorry, yes, of course you did just say, you’re detached and anti-social, and you don’t know how to do fun). Well [shuffle notes like I know what I’m doing here], you go and have some brooding non-fun and I’ll join the dots and we’ll soon have you developed.
Nice knowing you.