Start with the Shoes

Hi all! Kelly McKain here!

I’ve just got back from a fab writers’ retreat at Charney Manor, with twenty other authors who write for kids and young people, which was really inspiring! One of the things we talked a lot about was the characters in our stories and how to really make your characters feel real and get to know them. Everyone had really great tips about this, and I thought I’d share mine with all you keen writers here!

My tip is… start with the shoes.

So, if you have created your character already, you can go shopping and think about what shoes your character would wear, and even try them on and walk around. Or if you like drawing you could do some pix of them, or create a board on Pinterest (you could even put together whole outfits for them!).

If you haven’t created your character yet, you could actually start with the shoes. So, pick some shoes you like or that draw you to them

in some way – from a photo or charity shop, or even buy them, like I did with these ones.

First of all, have a good look at the shoes themselves. Think about how you’d describe the colour, how worn out or new they are, whether they are expensive or cheap, clean or dirty… If you have the actual shoes with you, put them on and have a good walk around. Do you walk differently in them? How do they make you feel? Does this give you any insights into your new, mystery character?

Next think about what else your character is wearing with the shoes. And where they are going. And who with. And what they’re planning to do when they get there. You can ask yourself these questions, or get a friend to ask you, and note down your answers as they come to you. Let whatever comes to you be okay – this isn’t the time for editing!

Finally, think about the bag this character has with them. It has three things in, one of them very unexpected. What are the things? At the very bottom of the bag there is a crumpled envelope, addressed to the character. Can you see what their name is, in your mind’s eye? Write that down too. Well done – you’ve just found your character!

Perhaps you have even found a new story, too!

Happy writing, all! Kelly x

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