by Natasha Graves, Age 16, United Kingdom
I challenge every young writer who reads this to pick up their pen and a notebook, leave the uninspiring walls of your bedroom or study and go out into the local countryside for the day. Bring along a picnic, maybe a camera and allow nature to take hold of your imagination, soak it up and pour out your inspiration onto the page.
Nature not only provides a backdrop for our stories and tales, but also for our characters. Why not focus on the traits of the characters in your story and try and assign each person an animal that matches their qualities? By becoming more familiar with the animals, you will become more familiar with your characters. This will allow you to create consistent, believable characters. For example, take Wormtail from Harry Potter, his rat-like qualities allow the reader to picture him vividly in their imaginations.
J.K Rowling isn’t the only author that has looked to nature to inspire her stories; I had a scroll through Goodread’s “Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once” and just from the title you can tell many of these great classics have been heavily influenced by nature. For example, To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, The Secret Garden to name just a few. In fact, Newlands Corner, Guildford, which is a short walk from the setting of this year’s Junior Authors Spring UK Writers Conference, inspired the famous poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Newlands Corner is a popular area of natural beauty in Guildford, comprising open chalk downland scattered with wild flowers, as well as tranquil woodland, perfect for exploring. The woodland provides a habitat to a range of animals including green woodpeckers and roe deer. The area also includes the ghostly Silent Pool. The spring-fed lake was a popular attraction in the nineteenth century due to the legend that surrounds the beautiful spot. The tale goes that a woodcutter’s daughter was drowned in the pool whilst trying to escape from King John’s advances. Some even say that the maiden’s ghost can be seen at midnight.
Newlands Corner is only a short distance from Guildford’s town centre, but the brief journey will take you a world away. The spot provides enchanting views of the Surrey Hills which could take you anywhere: a fantastical new world with travelling elves upon the hilltops; a safe haven for a tragedy struck hero; or the end scene for a deadly battle between good and evil. Surrey’s landscape could provide you with the perfect idea for that piece of fiction you’ve been working on.
If you are lucky enough to attend Laura Thomas’ first UK Junior Authors Writers Conference, your mind will be buzzing with new tips from the conference’s workshops. Such as Lil Chase’s teaching on how to clearly structure your story, and Katherine Garbera’s advice on developing protagonists. Therefore, you’ll be eager to put this new knowledge to the test, so why not start at Newlands Corner; it has all the inspiration a young author could hope for.
Perhaps you’ll be inspired to create a sensitive and gentle character based upon the roe deer that you see in the woodlands. Or maybe you’ll create a spin-off about the legend surrounding the tranquil Silent Pool. As if you didn’t already have reason enough to take advantage of this unique one-day event for young writers, you now have the prospect of visiting one of England’s beauty spots and be creatively inspired. So what are you waiting for? Early bird tickets are on sale now.