I sat in my room, surrounded by white walls and all of a sudden, I found myself in a forest, in a castle, or anywhere else, really. It was long ago, and I was a kid, long before I was mature enough to start questioning myself. There wasn’t much space for anything else than fantasy in my mind.
When we reconnect with that quietness and those white walls, we allow the fantasy to come back to life. Our strange characters crawl around, and the wind starts whistling again in the forest of our imagination.
Kids stories aren’t just stories
Kids’ stories are canvas, blank canvas kids use to picture their ideas. When I choose the ingredients for my stories, I use my white walls technique. As an adult, I think about what I want to say, the final meaning. Then I close my eyes, and in a moment, the child inside me takes over, redesigning that adult idea into something that can be fun, too. Yes, kid’s characters must be fun. That’s a plus.
It’s time for the story to start its own life under the force of my fingertips. After a few days, I always return to the text I wrote the first time to add something, change it entirely and then reread it. When I’m writing for children, I have to do a further step. I have to think:
“I’m leaving enough space for the child to create his/her own story?”
When writing a story for kids, we must answer this question.
It’s not about us and the plot anymore; it’s about something more profound. We’re dealing with personalities, beliefs and strong emotions. We often forget, but children aren’t mere reflections of ourselves. In fact, they are way more complicated than we think.
Nodo, the chairs’ mover
When I first wrote Nodo the chairs’ mover, I had to keep it in mind. Nodo doesn’t have to be a hero or an anti-hero. It doesn’t need to teach anything at all. He’s the impersonification of fear, and children have to laugh about it. They must laugh at the twigs’ snapper in the forest and the keys’ hider when they see their parents getting crazy, searching frantically for their precious keys.
It’s when I heard a child laughing at my story, that I understood I was going on the right path. I created the right set of blank canvas for him.