Monday, 12 September 2011

Writer's nugget #3: Morris Gleitzman

I first came across Morris Gleitzman's work through a stage version of his brilliant Two Weeks With The Queen.

This funny, sad and moving story was staged by Alan Ayckbourn's Stephen Joseph Theatre Company at the Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness-on-Windermere and I was reviewing the play for the local newspaper.

Morris Gleitzman
Gleitzman bravely tackles the subjects of cancer and its effect on children. Ayckbourn's adaptation was one of the best things I've ever seen in a theatre - 17 years later I can still remember it vividly.
Here, then, is Morris Gleitzman talking about how he goes about writing those wonderful, funny, challenging stories for young people.

"I have to plan things in advance. Once I know who my main character is and what their story is in general terms, I start planning the story into chapters. I write a few sentences about each chapter – notes to myself about what happens in each chapter and how the main character is feeling. I usually do more drafts of the plan than I do of the book itself. Ten drafts of the plan sometimes (17 with Belly Flop), and usually only two or three of the actual book. I need to know how the story will end before I can start writing the chapters. Sometimes, though, the ending changes as I'm writing. I revise the plan a lot as I'm writing the chapters.

Two Weeks With The Queen
"Almost none of the incidents and events in my books are from personal experience. I make them up. (OK, some might be from experiences I've forgotten.) But the emotions in the stories are not made up. I don't know how to invent emotions. I can only use the emotions from my own life. We all share the same range of emotions, which is why we can share the feelings of the characters we read about. So part of the storytelling process for me is to find interesting and unusual reasons for characters to have the emotions that the rest of us experience every day for familiar reasons. I'm lucky, I can write just about anywhere. I prefer not much noise and no distracting views. I keep the curtains in my writing room at home closed all the time so I can pretend it's night. I write better at night."