Michael Morpurgo: How does he write his books?

Here are some facts about Michael Morpurgo’s writing method.

  • Michael Morpurgo believes that ideas for stories are everywhere. He tries to live a full and varied life, and he’s always looking out for the next interesting idea.
  • Many of his stories start with a picture or image.

  • He is a big believer in writing things down so that you won’t forget them. He jots down story ideas, descriptions, fragments of dialogue and his feelings about a place or situation. Some of these notes have made their way into his books.
  • He spends a lot of time thinking about his stories before he starts writing them. He uses this time to fuse together disparate ideas into a story framework.
  • He uses his wife, Clare, as a sounding board, and he talks through his story idea with her before he puts pen to paper.
  • He writes the first drafts of his stories by hand in a school exercise book. He is usually on his bed when he does this, propped up with pillows.
  • Although Michael Morpurgo has a rough idea of how his stories will end before he starts to write them, he doesn’t plot them in detail. He likes to allow the story to evolve and grow as he is writing it.
  • When it comes to editing his first draft, Michael is guided by how the story sounds when it’s read aloud.
  • Many of Michael’s stories are written in the first person. Some even feature a main character named Michael.

Writing Advice and Tips from Michael Morpurgo

  • Don’t produce a strict plan or plot structure before you start writing. This will prevent a story growing organically when you are writing it. You must have some idea of where the story is heading, though.
  • Writing won’t always be enjoyable. Sometimes you need to stick at it when the ideas aren’t flowing. The blank page will always be a challenge.
  • Don’t worry about spelling and grammar when you’re writing the first draft. Don’t agonise over your choice of words. Just sketch out the story, mistakes and all, as if you were telling it to your friends.
  • If you want to be a writer, you should also be a reader. Read everything you can get your hands on – novels, non-fiction, short stories, poetry.
  • Write for your book because you are passionate about the story you are telling. Don’t worry about how successful the book will be after it’s finished.
  • Write every day, even if it’s only a few lines. The more you write, the better you will get. In the end your writing will come as easily as speech. You’ll be able to speak your story onto the page.

What next? Discover some more Michael Morpurgo facts.