Drive That Character
I decided to take a break from writing. Often, when I am working on a piece, it becomes an addiction. I open my laptop every free moment and start typing, editing, and changing. Most of the time, this process isn’t that fruitful. So I told myself, take a break. I have not touched my writing for a week, but I have had an otherwise action-packed and eye-opening weekend that has indirectly fueled by writing.
Firstly, my husband and I attended the Jio Mami Film Festival where we saw two films and attended one masterclass. The first film, ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’ produced by the team behind AIB was a humorous take on Indians who have been left behind in war-torn Iraq. Overall, it is light and warm, but there are some moments that puncture in your heart. ‘Nimtoh’ is a film by Saurav Rai, a director from Darjeeling and it has gone for the Cannes film festival. It is slow-paced, does an excellent job of recreating life in the mountains and creates the division between the servants and those being served.
While I was fascinated by the screenplay and the direction, the thing that was amiss in both films (to me) was a strong, tangible character that I was rooting for. This made me realize that no matter how good the writing may be, unless you have characters that the reader is connected to or feels for, the piece will fall flat. The protagonists in both films were young boys and while I felt sad for their situation, I wasn’t invested in them. It dawned upon me that this is KEY- especially if the story is character driven.
My first picture book, ‘Burrito Has A Butterbody’ has garnered love from children everywhere and to be honest, it is a simple story. There are no intricacies or deeper meanings. When I think about it, the simple reason for this is that Burrito is a very amiable character and the children are rooting for him. Moreover, a lot of them have been in situations like him and find him relatable.
I recently came across a useful tip by Hannah Holt on the 'must-have' elements of a picture book: