Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Past

I'm delighted to have a Christmas story in The People’s Friend this week (December 13): Bicycles for Two.

It’s set in the 60s and the heading is:

Jilly and I were always getting in trouble for being late for school. Now we knew the answer to the problem!

The title gives away what the answer is – but it didn’t come about in quite the way that Isabel and Jilly hoped.

When I gave a talk to the lovely people at Ayr Writers’ Club last week on writing stories for women’s magazines I said that I hardly ever was inspired to begin with a character but with a setting or a situation. 

However, Bicycles for Two began not with a character exactly but with character sketches. It was from an exercise at a writing class whereby we had to imagine the contents of a handbag or briefcase and build up a character from that. Then we branched out into other character traits and, because it was nearly Christmas and I had fond memories of presents I used to get as a child, I imagined two characters setting about their Christmas shopping in different ways.

One liked buying things like bubble bath in bottles shaped like poodles, and soap that looked and smelled just like a lemon. The other, less frivolously, bought tapestry kits, and pencil cases with propelling pencils and pens with nibs. The character traits evolved into two people, Aunt Edie and Aunt Ann respectively, and then I put them away in my character file for putting into a story at a later date. 

When I reread the list of presents I could almost smell that lemon … but I remembered that what I really wanted the Christmas I was ten was a bicycle. 

Happily, I got one for my birthday the following year.

I hope your Christmas wishes come true even if they don't arrive on 25th December.


  1. Hi Kate, loved the soap. Also like the idea of emptying a handbag to get at character. will give that a go, thank you. anne stenhouse

  2. Lovely post, Kate. I enjoyed hearing how you thought up your story. Looking forward to reading it this weekend. (And love your photo!)

  3. Trying again to say really enjoyed this post. Brought back memories...

  4. Thanks, Rosemary - and for persevering with the comments box!