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Writing techniques & tricks
Writing Magazine

Writing techniques & tricks

Posted Tuesday, 8 December 2015   |   5048 views   |   General Interest   |   Comments (0) The former Children’s Laureate writes with humour and gritty realism about what life is like for modern children, says Tony Rossiter

She’s written over a hundred children’s books and sold more than 35 million copies. Her first book was published in 1969, but it was another twenty years before Jacqueline Wilson became a bestselling author. She found her voice – and her audience – with The Story of Tracy Beaker (1991). Tracy is a feisty, often bolshie, ten-year-old who’s been taken into care. Hugely popular among eight-to-thirteen-year-olds (particularly girls), in 2002 it was turned into a BBC television series, making both Tracy and Wilson household names.

Tracy Beaker
Jacqueline Wilson was leafing through her local newspaper when she came across an advertisement about children in care who needed foster parents. This was the starting point for the first Tracy Beaker book. She obtained a pile of leaflets about children’s homes from a foster care association. Among these was a booklet for the children themselves to fill in and say things about themselves. As soon as she saw this, it gave her the idea of writing a story with the first-person viewpoint of a child in care, a ten-year-old girl who is starting to fill in her life story for the benefit of her long-suffering social worker.

Tracy Beaker is not an easy child to live with – perhaps her bolshie attitude to authority is one of the attractions for young readers. She desperately wants to be loved, but her behaviour makes this very difficult. She’s lonely and frustrated, and has ‘behavioural problems’ caused by her troubled upbringing and her mother’s neglect. She lies and steals, and confuses fantasy with reality. She has an over-developed imagination and a fondness for telling tall stories, including about the mother who has abandoned her: She’s a famous actress in Hollywood. She is. That’s why she shoved me in this Children’s Home. She’s way too busy to look after me. I understand. I do really. 

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