Category Archives: Stories

Superheroes & Sidekicks

Brunswick Primary were delighted with the newsletter that Jennifer sent to them last week. They said that they had loved working on their superhero characters…and hope that one of their characters might appear in one of Jennifer’s future books!

They also had lots of fun thinking about the origin behind their characters, and also a possible sidekick (as they were so inspired by Jess, Dexter and Bob!)

Here is some of their wonderful work:

Jennifer sent them this congratulatory note: Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 12.38.31Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 12.38.50

I wonder what villains Jaguar class will come up with?! Or if any superhero and sidekick stories will start to bubble away in their brains?

Team AAA xx

Recommended Reading!

Letter writing continues apace at Cardinal Newman. This week, 9EF responded to Patrice’s challenge….recommending her some new books to read!

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We particularly enjoyed Tom’s question about Patrice’s geography in Orange Boy! Here is Patrice’s response:

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So, the geography in Orange Boy does work! It’s great to hear that Patrice’s readers interrogate her books though, especially when we learn from her letters about all the research that goes into them…all that background work is being appreciated!

Good luck with your reading, 9EF!

Team AAA xx


Questions Answered!

This week, Jennifer sent Jaguar class a lovely long letter, answering all of their questions from their last message!

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QUESTION ONE: How did you come up with this brilliant idea for the story?

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QUESTION TWO: Who inspired you to become an author?

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QUESTION THREE: What was your first book? How many have you written?

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QUESTION FOUR: Why did you become an author?

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QUESTION FIVE: Who is your favourite author?

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QUESTION SIX: What was your favourite book as a child?

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It’s so interesting to find out more about Jennifer, and all about why she became an author. What are your favourite books? Are there certain characters and stories that inspire you to write?

Team AAA xx



Perijee, Pineapples & Planets!

Over the course of the Adopt An Author project classes and their authors get to know each other really well – Ross Montgomery shared some details of an amazing holiday he recently went on to Montenegro:
WOWEEEEE what a beautiful place! An inspiring place to write too we imagine!
It sounds like 6L have been visiting some pretty cool places too!
Hello Ross,

We think your holiday looks amazing and we enjoyed looking at your photos. Lots of us have been on exciting holidays too including Mexico, France, Wales, Isle of Wight, Birmingham, Cornwall and London.

We’ve some more questions and comments. As you can see, we’re very interested in this new character Fi!……

Where did you get the idea of stealing a van? James
This is an excellent question – I’m not sure if I know myself! In the first draft Caitlin stole a Ferrari and immediately crashed it – I think I decided on an ice cream van because it was the only thing big enough to fit a cow and two girls inside, AND because it’s funny.
If you could, would you turn Perijee and Me into a series? William
Without giving TOO much away… I don’t know if I could turn PERIJEE & ME into a series! I’ve never written a series before, and I’m always tempted to revisit characters, but at the moment I think it works best as a stand-alone book. Perhaps you’ll understand when you finish it!
If you ever had the chance to put Perijee into another story what would it be? Alfie
I do occasionally end up putting characters from one books into other books – in fact, an early version of Frank was originally in my previous book THE TORNADO CHASERS, as a teacher called Mr Pewlish! In the end I changed the character completely and made the teacher a woman called Mrs Pewlish – but I liked the character of Frank so much I put him in PERIJEE & ME anyway, and I think he works much better there. I’m not sure where I’d put Perijee – I’ve got three more books out in the next year, and unfortunately he’s not in any of them!
Does Caitlin like being the character where she tells a lot of lies? Charlie J
What I like so much about Caitlin is that she often doesn’t REALISE how bad she is at lying! She’s too innocent to really understand what lying is, and how you can be good at it. Whenever I wrote her lying, I always thought of a child with chocolate smeared all round their mouth going, “Cake? What cake? I haven’t seen a cake round here anywhere…”
How did you think of Fi? Honor
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Fi didn’t turn up as a character until one of the very late drafts! Originally Caitlin found Mother quite quickly, and most of the second half of the book was about their relationship. My publisher told me this was boring – and to be fair, whenever people talk to me about the book everyone mentions Fi and no one ever mentions Mother! It’s a pity, as I really wanted Mother to be a strange, scary and memorable character – I’m not sure I got it quite right…
I realised that in order to make the story more interesting, I had to pair Caitlin up with someone who was the total opposite of her – streetwise, cynical, pessimistic and sharp. Someone who was totally appalled by how naive Caitlin is, but who is eventually won over by her warmth and love for Perijee. 
The character ended up coming to me quite easily – to be honest, I have a few characters in my other book who are quite like Fi! There’s Martha in ALEX, THE DOG & THE UNOPENABLE DOOR, Orlaith in THE TORNADO CHASERS…. there’s even a similar character called Ivy in my book published next year called MAX & THE MILLIONS! I guess I’m a fan of smart, sarcastic and slightly violent girl characters…
Why did you choose for Fi to steal a cow? Mothakin and Finlay
I’m so glad this joke went down as well as it did! I wanted the world after Perijee had taken over to be confusing and chaotic – Caitlin often doesn’t understand how the world works anyway, and it would be like dropping the reader right into the deep end as well. I loved the idea of Fi doing something absolutely bizarre and inexplicable as if it was the most normal thing in the world! And cows are pretty darn hilarious. Like pineapples.
What happened to Fi’s parents? Was she telling the truth when she said her mother was sick? Lauren
In truth, I haven’t ever decided what happened to Fi’s parents – I always wrote that moment thinking that she was lying about her mother being sick, but now that you mention it I suppose it could have been partly based on something that happened to her. The sad truth is that there are lots of children in the UK who live in very difficult home situations – more than we like to admit. Perhaps, if something as huge and catastrophic as an alien invasion happened, then there would be lots of children like her able to wander the country and steal things without being stopped.
Why did you choose the name Wanderly? Caitlin
What a good question! I often wondered this myself – I had to make up a name and it was the first one that came into my head. I think I wanted something that sounded like a town in the middle of the country – quaint, but big enough to have a town hall etc. Perhaps it’s because it has the word “wander” in it – rather than something more exciting or dynamic! Like Explosionville. Or St Nunchucks.
Did you have any other ideas of how Caitlin escaped the camp? Caitlin
I did! In fact, until the last draft Caitlin escaped in a different way – we still had her talking about putting her “disguise” on, then walks up to the exit. The guard looks at her… then turns away. Caitlin thinks her disguise is working perfectly, only for the guard to tell her to go back to bed. It turns out Caitlin is wearing a bedsheet over her head – she thinks if she dresses up like a ghost then no one will see her!
My publisher thought it was a bit too silly – after all, Caitlin often makes mistakes and misunderstands things, but she’s not STUPID. I much prefer the final version in the book – if nothing else, it helps remind us of the trouble Caitlin has with dyslexia!
Have you heard about a stolen cow before? Caitlin
Do you know anyone like Fi e.g. has her personality and attitude? Louis and Courtney
Yes – my girlfriend!! 
She’s probably be hacked off if she found that out – but then, so would Fi.
Where were you when your idea for Perijee and me swung into your mind? Mia
I’ve mentioned before that I was walking through a park near the place where I worked, and I saw the businessman lying on the ground – it’s right next to the Museum of Childhood, which is a wonderful museum – next time you’re in East London, make sure you visit!
What inspired you to have a 12/13 year old girl as a thief? Freya S
I like the idea of characters who don’t necessarily behave how you’d expect – I particularly like it when those characters are children! It’s one of the joys of writing a book – in real life, if you did what Fi did you’d get in serious trouble… but I love imagining her doing illegal things and getting away with it!
Why is her name Fi? Brooke
I realised this only recently! When I first wrote her, I chose the first name that came into my head – Fi just seemed to make sense to me, and I didn’t question why. It was only much later that I realised that when I wrote those new scenes, I had just read an early copy of a book written by my friend Katherine Rundell – THE WOLF WILDER 
(The best part about being an author is you get to read books before they’re published!)
Some of you may have read THE WOLF WILDER – if you haven’t, you should! It’s a wonderful book with an amazing main character – a young girl who lives in the middle of a snowy forest in Russia and teaches tame wolves how to be wild again. And her name is… Feo!
Basically, I completely stole the name and had no idea until much later. Luckily Katherine Rundell didn’t want to beat me up or anything – and she probably could. As well as writing books, she’s a tightrope walker, a pilot, and stuffs animals!
It was now Ross’ turn to set a task for 6L….
What do you think Perijee’s home planet might be like? Do you think there’ll be lots of aliens like him – will he have a family? What would their house be like? What would their cities be like?

Discuss your different ideas – then, as a class, have a go sketching your ideas down. Once again I’d like you to focus on your descriptive writing – if you end up drawing Perijee’s house, label it with really good descriptive words! Think about what a whole city of Perijees might need – roads? Parks? What would alien shops have to sell, and what would they look like?
If you like, you can each do a drawing – however you might prefer to do one big one as a class. I leave it entirely up to you!

We’ve picked a few of our favourite other-worldly landscapes to share – Perijee’s home looks pretty lovely – another exotic holiday destination to add to the list!
Bye for now!
Team AAA x

Gory Gladiators at Patcham Juniors

A couple of weeks ago, Patcham Juniors’ adopted author, Sarah Lean set the class a writing task. They had to describe a setting, lets read her email below:

I hope you found the mind maps useful to collect some ideas.

The setting is the place where things happen.

Leo imagines he is an amphitheatre, fighting bears or the gladiator of old, wearing a helmet

and with crowds cheering him on.

Imagine an amphitheatre…

In stories, a writer needs to think about the setting using all the senses: SIGHT, HEARING, SMELL, TASTE AND TOUCH, and also what it FEELS LIKE to be in a place.

Write a couple of paragraphs about a gladiator who is waiting underground and then comes into the amphitheatre to face their enemy. Describe what they would see, hear, smell, taste and what things are like to touch. It’s also important to know how they feel in that place. No need to do a battle scene, but concentrate on describing the place as fully as possible.

Things to think about:

What might a bear or lion smell like?

What does a huge crowd sound like?

How big is the amphitheatre?

What do the walls of the cells underground feel like to touch?

How does it feel to be wearing a helmet? Can the gladiator see clearly?

How does it feel to come out of the cold shadows underground to a hot arena?

The responses were fantastic as always and actually pretty gory! Here are two of our favourites:

Now, the pieces are gory, but also atmospheric and quite vivid! It’s almost like a film script, you can just imagine how the gladiator is feeling in that moment. How fantastic.

Well done Year 3 and I think Sarah agreed:

Dear Year 3

Thank you for showing me your work. I am impressed by the sense of danger and fear that you have all described in the anxious moments before a gladiator has to go out into the amphitheatre. Using all the senses brings the writing to life to conjure up a terrifying moment.

Herbie created super tension with the questions the gladiator is asking himself, something a writer works hard to do. And what a dramatic moment for the gladiator to be faced with his son!

George’s description sounded like poetry, as did Isobel’s, which really conjured up the feel of the arena. There were some vivid descriptions, and I especially liked Bertie’s range of smells and the lovely image of light through the bars of the cage from Isaac, as well as Lewis’s alliteration of smashing swords.

Isabella asked good questions of the gladiator in her letter to get a whole range of the experience of the gladiator, and I thought it was a super idea from Jane to have the gladiator write to his mother as it turned the writing instantly into an emotional read.

Well done everyone. I hope you enjoyed it.



“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

That quote is by American writer Toni Morrison – great words!

This is a fitting quote for Stanford Juniors’ next task set by their adopted author, Ross Montgomery …

By now you’ve invented an alien, and used similes and evocative language to describe different parts of it. 
Read either pp. 29-32 (Perijee turning into a person) or pp. 68-70 (Perijee appearing in front of Caitlin’s parents) – depending on how far you’ve got in the book! In these short extracts, we see Perijee changing and the effect it has on people. Try and spot some examples of similes and descriptive language I’ve used.
YOUR next step is to pretend you’ve written a whole book about your alien. You’re going to write the scene where your alien first appears!
1. You don’t need to write a whole story – just one short scene. A few paragraphs should be enough. You don’t need to come up with a whole backstory, or an explanation where this alien has come from.
2. In the scene, your narrator is going to discover your alien. You can write it in first person – e.g. “I gasped in shock” – or third person if you prefer – e.g “Daisy gasped in shock”. The choice is yours!
3. Start by imagining a good place for your alien to be discovered – it should depend on how you want the scene to “feel”. If you want the scene to be scary, a good place would be a barren forest in the middle of the night – perhaps your narrator is trying to find his/her way home through the fog with a flashlight when they stumble across the alien. If you want the scene to be awe-inspiring, maybe the narrator could go exploring an old abandoned cave and find it there. 
The options are endless: it could be in a foul stinking sewer, the narrator’s bedroom, a dusty old shed at the bottom of a garden… think about what works for your alien, and what you would enjoy writing!
4. First of all, take a sentence or two to describe the setting. This is a good way to build up a sense of how the reader should feel when they’re reading – scared, amazed, confused…
EXAMPLE 1: I crept through the dark, dismal corridor, my heart pounding with terror in my chest.
EXAMPLE 2: Jeremy walked mesmerised through the sunlit trees, towards the glade where the haunting music was playing…
5. When your narrator sees the alien, take a few sentences to describe the alien. This bit should be easy – you’ve already done the hard work! Look at the sentences you came up for your alien and choose the ones you think are most effective. You don’t need all of them – three or four should be enough. 
Make sure you choose a good mix so we get a “picture” in our head – it would be a pity if all three descriptions were about your alien’s feet, for example!
Feel free to alter or improve your descriptions if you think they could be better – you may have come up with some new ideas over the last few weeks!
6. Last of all, make it clear how the narrator feels after seeing the alien. Are they terrified? Amazed? Disgusted? Delighted? Does the alien know it’s been seen – do they talk to each other? The choice is yours!
I look forward to seeing your ideas! Remember, these passages don’t need to be long – it’s better to write something short and punchy than something long and boring!
Have fun and speak soon,
Well as we know, Stanford Juniors are a very creative lot and have approached Ross’ idea from a different angle – before they begin writing their first scene, the class have created a storyboard to help them plan their first draft. How organised!

Ross seemed impressed by this initiative and responded:

Hello Year 6s,

I loved your work this week! I wasn’t expecting to see comic strip storyboards, but it really helped show off and structure your ideas (and drawing skills!) When I write, I usually have to plan out every chapter in detail before I get started – it can be really tough but is vital if you want to make sure your writing’s going to be the best it can be. I particularly liked Suzi-Anne’s terrifying alien getting annoyed at being called ugly, and Ruby’s duplicating aliens being shoved in the wardrobe!
Speak soon,

Woodingdean, Stanford Juniors, Patcham Juniors and Carden Primary say a ginormous ‘GOOD DAY’ to you!

Its the first week of the project and each class have received their first emails from their authors!

Woodingdean have said ‘ALOHA! to their author Gary Northfield…


I’ve been zipping around the country the last few weeks, telling everybody about Julius Zebra, reading from the book and showing them how I draw Julius. The jokes were brilliant lots of school children from all over the country told their favourite jokes.

Here’s one of the winners:

Knock knock!
Who’s There?
Interrupting cow!
Interrupting co…

ANYWAY! Who wants to learn how to draw JULIUS ZEBRA? Good!
When I draw my cartoon characters, I find it much easier to draw them by breaking up the character up into easy, manageable shapes. This way, it doesn’t seem very hard to draw at all. I’ve attached a worksheet which shows you how to draw Julius ready to fight as a gladiator!

aaaaaaand here are class 4PA drawing away and look at the results! Gary might have a team of illustrators on his hands..

drawing julius

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you all in 4PA should be proud of yourselves, Julius has never looked finer!


Author Sarah Lean has cried a humongous ‘HIYA!’ to her class at Patcham Juniors…


When Harry was a puppy, I trained him to sit quietly in a basket on my bike. He also used to jump up on my seat where I had been writing when I went to make a cup of tea. I often pretended that he was talking to me and had something to say.

What do you imagine Harry might be saying in these photographs?

Ross Montgomery,  a tremendous WAVE to his class at Stanford Juniors from little old London…

Hi everyone!

I’m very excited to be sending you the first of my weekly emails. Mr Persaud tells me that you’re going to be working hard to send me some excellent pieces of writing and insightful questions! In return, I’ll do my best to come up with some fun activities to help you with your own writing, and on the way I’ll try not to mispeeell any wodrs.
By now, I’m sure you’ll have read some of my new book PERIJEE & ME. It was only published last Thursday, so you lucky lot have had a head-start on the rest of the country! 
In order to help the reader visualise Perijee, I used two SIMILES to describe him – can you find them? Why do you think I compared Perijee to these things – what do you think is the point of using similes? 
REMEMBER: if your alien is scary, then you should compare it to things that are scary!
GOOD EXAMPLE: The alien’s eyes were as red as erupting volcanoes.
BAD EXAMPLE: The alien’s eyes were as red as nice juicy tomatoes.


Marcia Williams has shouted a gigantic ‘GREETINGS’! to Carden Primary and have a few questions for Marcia to answer on her return from Dubai (sneak peak below)…


Who is your favourite female author and why?


If you could go back in time and meet 5 famous historical characters who would you pick and why?


When you go to libraries or book shops are you ever tempted to move your books so everyone can

see them?


Are you a Harry Potter fan?


Did you like history at school? If not, what inspired you to write/illustrate historical books?


Who is your favourite woman through history and why?


What encouraged you to become an author/illustrator and why?


Who is your least favourite historical character and why?


If you were stranded on a desert island and only had two historical people for company who would

you choose and why?


Summer J

Do you still keep a diary? If so, what do you write about?

‘That Carden gang are odd aren’t they?’

AF Harrold is back and he’s pretty impressed to find little nuggets of ‘oddness’ in the Carden clan…

Dear people of Brighton.

Gosh, some of you are odd, aren’t you?

We had a very wide range of intriguing, interesting and bonkers unreal and non-existent books in last week’s homework.

Among my favourite titles were: How to Put On Pants (For Nudists); The Boy Who Let Two Old People Try to Get A Library [Card?] for Him But Then They Kidnapped Him, by Fizzlebert Stump (I liked the idea that Fizz might have written his own account of his adventure, in which you’d really find out what happened, without having to trust me to tell you the truth); The Blue Dinner Plate (although some of the other titles might seem weirder, I think this is probably actually the weirdest title I got sent, I love it).

The Blue Dinner Plate really intrigues me – I think the idea that the middle bit of the book’s the best because that’s when the blue dinner plate finds a friend makes me want to read the book. I never even realised that a plate might want to find some friends, but of course now I think about it plates usually come in families – you usually have four or six or more plates with the same design in the cupboard (and a posh set that only ever come out on special occasions). Maybe the blue dinner plate is the last one of a set, all on its own… You see just the title and that one bit of information in the review has got me thinking and that’s a good thing. Also, the idea that ‘at the end of the book everything goes wrong’ is an interesting one. Usually at the end of a book everything has come right, the baddies are punished and the goodies are safe or free or happy again, but it sounds like this book is just the beginning of the blue dinner plate’s adventures – it ends all wrong here, so maybe in the next book the plate gets to put things right… I wonder…?

Some of the books were a bit disturbing, like the tale of Zig Zog the Alien, who is warned by his parents to never leave the crater or he’ll be caught by the horrible spaceman, but of course (like any child in a story told not to do something) he does, and he gets caught by the spaceman and put in a cage and killed. I’m sure there’s more to it than that when you read the actual book, you probably find out why the spaceman’s doing what he does and how Zig Zog tries to escape before meeting his grisly fate… but that’s the thing about reviews, they can’t tell you the whole story, but just enough to make you want to pick up the book. I’m very pleased that the Nillab was so involved with the story that when Zig Zog got caught it made her cry – that’s the sign of a good book, isn’t it?

Another book that sounds like a good book, was The Lonely Girl, which, although it’s not the funniest or most exciting title, sounds like a book with a lot of heart in it and real story that would pull you in. It’s about a girl, Katie, who runs away from home because she thinks no one likes her – and I’m sure we’ve all felt like that sometimes. I know when I was your age I certainly did, and sometimes pretended to run away (although I never actually did). When Katie runs away she has an adventure, and although we’re not told what happens it’s making me worry for her. I Hope it turns out okay for her. Apparently the ending is a bit disappointing, but we’re not told why.

This was quite common in these reviews – a lot of people found the endings disappointing, but very few people told me just why that was… was it because they didn’t make sense, or they were sad when they should have been happy, or did it feel like the author cheated somehow, or was the last page missing when you borrowed the book from the library? It would have been nice to know!


One of the other things I liked about these reviews was the range of people you recommended the books to – not just kids aged 10-12 or 7 up, but to comedians and fire fighters and plumbers and people with vivid imaginations…


There was a lot in these reviews that made me laugh. Thank you for that.

Well done guys! It’s made us want to read all the reviews too! But there is no rest for our budding writers, the next task has been set!


This week I’d like you to imagine you’ve been kidnapped by some old people and made to clean their house.

I want you to write a little thing sort of like a poem that begins, ‘In the rotten cupboard I found…’

I’d like you to surprise me with a list of the odd and unusual things you found there.

I’d like you to think about how a poem-type-thing might look on the page. It doesn’t just go to the end of the line and start on the next, does it? Each object in the cupboard might have a line of its own, perhaps?

And do you want to say, ‘In the rotten cupboard I found…’ before each object? Or do you just want to say it once at the beginning? Or do you want to say it a few times, maybe every three or four items? (That would be a refrain, in poetry terms.)

And when you say you found some sausages I don’t want you to say ‘I found some sausages,’ I want some more details – ‘some stinky sausages’ or ‘some sausages made from squirrels and stoats’ or ‘some sausages shaped like mouldy bananas’.

Maybe try thinking about using your senses – so ‘some sausages that smelt like the juice from a bin’ or more metaphorically, ‘some sausages that smelt like sadness’ or ‘sausages that sounded like a disappointed clown’.

If you’d rather find nice things, wonderful things instead of nasty, mouldy things, you might write a ‘In the magical cupboard I found…’ poem-thing instead…

Or you might want to use a different word instead of ‘rotten’ or ‘magical’ – you might pick your own word – if you’re repeating the line you might want a different word each time (a set of rotten words or a set of magical words).

How many things are you going to find as you rummage in the horrible cupboard? Six, ten, fifteen? I don’t know. See how you get on.

And think about the poems you’ve seen and the poems you’ve read when you write it down – look at how they look on the page and try to make your writing look poem-ish.

There’s a fun little challenge for you.
Good luck and enjoy describing your horrible surprises.




Until next time….

Post Easter Challenges

We’re back after a jolly good Easter and Rob Lloyd Jones has got back to Bevendean after taking up a new hobby…


Hello all,

I hope you all had fun Easter breaks, and didn’t eat toooo much chocolate!

I was busy working on my new book, about treasure hunters searching for a secret tomb in Egypt. I even bought a metal detector, to practice hunting for treasure.

I really enjoyed reading your character descriptions. It was great that you didn’t just write down what characters look like – which isn;t the most important thing at all. What matters, remember, is how they act and what they do. So your descriptions called them shy, shady, lazy, copy – which are all great ways to describe a character and how they act (or don’t act, if they are lazy).

So when you tell a story about someone, try to think what that person would do – not what they look like. A character’s actions make the story happen – if a bad person does something bad, or a good person does something good – those actions have consequences, which cause a story to start happening.

It sounds to me as if you would like to write more about these characters you created – so let’s do that next. Now that you have thought up your characters, lets do something with them.  Most stories begin with a character living their normal life (some people call this the ‘status quo’). That normal life doesn’t have to be a USUAL life to you and me – but just one that for them in their world is normal.  So Wild Boy’s normal life at the start is to live on a freak show and fight with Augustus Finch and spy on people using his detective skills.

Then SOMETHING HAPPENS to thrusts the character from their normal life and into an adventure. In Wild Boy that SOMETHING is when he defends Sir Oswald and so he has to run away. So then he has to steal money to survive, which ends up with him stealing the mysterious letter – and after that the story takes off.

I would like you to think of your character’s normal life that you have all described, and then think what THING could happen to them that would thrust them into a story, and maybe a little more in a paragraph about what that story might be.

Good luck with the challenge – looking forward to reading the results!

All the best, Rob


We can’t wait to hear the results either Bevendean! Now get jotting!