Monday, 26 November 2018

A Good Q and A Session • Lynne Garner

For a while I’ve been struggling with my picture book writing, simply no ideas. Then typically three evolved within the same week. The ideas germinated because I asked myself a few questions. This has happened to me before. Many years ago whilst checking on a hibernating hedgehog I was looking after I asked myself “what do hedgehogs dream about?” The answers I came up with finally became my very first picture book A Book For Bramble.

This then made me wonder if other authors had had the same experience. Having asked myself this question I needed to know the answer. So, as I have direct access to the Picture Book Den team, I posed the question to them. It appears I’m not the only author to have had this experience and the following books are the results of questions these authors posed themselves.

In no particular order:

Neon Leon by Jane Clarke

Jane wondered what would happen if a chameleon couldn’t change colour. She’s aware the real answer would be that it’s likely it would’ve been eaten whilst small. But, this book shows what a little imagination can achieve when you ask yourself one of those random questions.

You Choose by Pippa Goodhart

In Pippa’s own words “after seeing my children’s enjoyment of catalogues of toys, catalogues of clothing, kitchen and garden equipment aimed at adults, I asked myself, ‘would it be possible to make a catalogue of the much bigger choices we make in life?’ Her answer was “Yes! Simply use that catalogue treatment of showing a mass of choices, but take it into the realms of fantasy a little by offering children a mix of realistic and over the top homes, food, friends, jobs, and so on.” This format has worked so well that Pippa has also written Just Imagine and You Choose in Space.

Farmer Falgu Goes on a Trip by Chitra Soundar

Chitra asked herself the simple question “is silence better than noise?” Her answer, which is explored in her book is “noise is joyous.”

The Crayon Man by Natascha Biebow

After watching an episode of Sesame Street featuring how Crayola crayons are made with her son, Natascha found herself wondering who had invented them. So, she started digging for “story nuggets.” She used the archives at the Smithsonian Museum (Washington, DC), visited the Crayola factory and contacted the inventor’s family. All this research resulted in a non-fiction picture book that tells the story of Edwin Binney and his wonderful invention, the Crayola crayons.

So, it would appear I’m not the only author who has posed themselves a question and ended up with a book idea. So, the next time you’re suffering with writers block ask yourself a random question and see where the answers lead you.

Alternately if you’ve asked yourself a question and you need a few more imaginative answers then post them here. I’m sure between us we can help you create your next story.

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Jane Clarke said...

I do ask myself a lot of questions - sometimes very useful, but I have to confess they often go nowhere :-) Currently contemplating if an alligator wants to be seen later, it might be impatient and want to be seen now.

Lucy Rowland said...

A lovely post, Lynne. Thank you. I agree, asking questions is a great way to come up with story ideas. During my school visits I often ask children to think of their own 'what if?' questions. I came up with the idea for 'The Birthday Invitation' (illustrated by Laura Hughes) when I asked 'What might happen if a child dropped one of their birthday invitations on the floor?' and 'Who might find it?'

Chitra Soundar said...

Great post Lynne. Asking questions are how kids learn too.

Lynne Garner said...

Good question. If later then how does an alligator practice self control?

Lynne Garner said...

Thank you. I love playing the 'the if' game when I'm teaching creative writing. I tend link with a well known fairy story. It amazes me where the students end up once they've asked this question.

Lynne Garner said...

Thanks - I can remember my niece went through the stage of asking questions about everything. In the end we turned into a game but asking her if she wanted the real answer or a made up one.

Alison said...

It might talk to a crocodile who once had the same problem. Or perhaps spending some time with a sloth could be just what it needs.

Natascha Biebow said...

Great post, Lynne. Thank you for including my book's story! I try to learn something new every day and asking a question is a great way to do this. We were learning all about the Mars lander Insight the other day. Exciting times for future generations!

David McMullin said...

Mine may not always start with a question, but at some point in the process, the questions start rolling in. I love when they take you in completely different directions than you first imagined.