Monday, April 20, 2015

The creative process for writing a story

Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay is a treat.  It’s an exploration of the creative process for an omnipresent author as she writes a story.

It starts as the author visits a school where children ask all sorts of questions:

 How did you learn to draw?
How many books have you written?
Which is your favorite book?
Can your cat fly?
Where do your ideas come from?
Where does a story start?

…and many, many more.  You get the idea.Though I did notice she didn't include the one I remember always coming up: How much money do you make?

It’s the last couple of questions that I listed above that really drive this book.  It’s about how Marie-Louise Gay comes up with idea.  Maybe the colour of the paper she’s working with will inspire her and she’ll end up writing a story about a snowstorm or a jungle or the sea.

Or maybe random words and ideas will give her an idea to play with.  Sometimes these fragments might sit around for a long time before they get used.  You just never know what might work.

 And if she comes up with a blank? Well, she’ll doodle, paint, sketch, play around and ‘shake up’ her ideas, letting her mind wander. Things might get a bit messy and be a bit hard but eventually, something always comes.

Using a story-within-a-story to illustrate this process works really well.  Besides showing this as being a ‘process’ there’s always a great sense of play, curiosity and exploration that is emphasized.  The children in the book become part of the process of working out ideas, creating a portion of the story being developed and just enjoying the ride to the end.

I've always loved Marie-Louise Gay’s illustrations.  If you know her Stella series then you’ll know what to expect. (Stella and Sam even have a cameo early on.)

I highly recommend this for early elementary grades when discussing story development and creative process.


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