Part 5, Assignment 5 – Reflective Commentary

I’ve loved Part 5 and I reached the assignment quicker than I thought, even though I fully participated in all the exercises.

Creating a fantasy land was a valuable subject and actually sketching one, whilst not using it for the settings of my assignment pieces, helped me mentally to plan my second assignment.  I knew in my mind where my characters were in their journey and I felt more confident that the drama unfolded “realistically” to the mental picture I had; it made for useful fictional continuity.

I came away from Assignment 4 feeling that I needed to look far more carefully at my POVs and I consciously chose a different POV for one of my two stories at Assignment 5, namely the omniscient.

This viewpoint gave me a very different perspective.  I had a wider view over the action, and I didn’t feel confined as I have done when writing from one person’s experiences and feelings.  It was definitely a refreshing change. On reflection, I would probably want to write from this POV for the older age groups rather than for younger children. The style needed for the younger age group requires a more immediate, empathetic perspective such as first or third person can provide.

Creating names for my fantasy land characters and places was daunting. I felt enormous responsibility to get this right and because I had carte blanche to make them unusual for a change, it wasn’t easy.

I took inspiration from various sources as suggested; cook books, atlases, medical dictionaries, herbs and spice lists.  This lessened the intimidation factor and as soon as I found some names I liked, it helped me settle into writing the stories.

For Story 1, this was for 5-7 year olds.  I knew that I wanted a name for my protagonist to be silly.  Holly Toogood seemed appropriate and I could imagine it being a talking point if the story was ever read out loud at school.  Was she too good or actually quite naughty?  It also gave a humourous edge which I felt was important for this age group.

Ever since I read Derek Landy’s “Skulduggery Pleasant”, I’ve wanted an opportunity to write dialogue in a similar comical, dry style.  Thus, my witch’s small sections of dialogue should bear more than a passing resemblance to Mr. Pleasant.

Story 2 was for the 9+ age group.  This story was an extract from a longer story, something that I’ve not tried before, but like the change of POV, it was a refreshing change and because I knew that I didn’t need a conclusion at the end, I was comfortable with where I drew it to a close.

It had more complicated, interesting names for the characters, the lands, and the sentences were longer.  There was more description and more suggestion of threat and danger to the protagonists. I made this far more obvious in Story 1.

During Part 5, I have been reading Philip Reeve’s “Fever Crumb”, which has been a superb inspiration for fantasy writing.

I have also been re-reading Philippa Pearce’s “Tom’s Midnight Garden”, which has reminded me of a common theme amongst stories of this time; children being sent away and having an extraordinary adventure (Chronicles of Narnia, The Secret Garden).

And waiting to be read is Alan Garner’s “The Moon of Gomrath”.