You Can’t Make It Dark Enough - talking about character with Cliff McNish

International bestselling author Cliff McNish shares his thoughts about getting to the deep core of characters, and how to avoid cliché by ‘never accepting your first idea’ and ‘staying in the moment’. We discuss the effectiveness of giving your protagonist seemingly insuperable problems, the darkness of picture books, and the need for a ‘desire line’: “Whenever you respond really deeply to a character, you always know what they want.” Full show notes available here:

Over a 20-year career, Cliff has written many fantasy, sci-fi and supernatural stories for children and young adults. The Doomspell Trilogy, his debut series, sold to 26 countries. His 2006 ghost novel, Breathe, was voted as one of the top 100 adult and children's novels of all time by the Schools Network of British Librarians in 2013.

Thanks as always to Christopher Pett for production and editing.

Links to resources:

Cliff’s website:

Cliff’s posts on 'Notes From the Slushpile':

John Truby on writing:

'Save the Cat' by Blake Snyder

‘Morning pages’, from 'The Artist’s Way'  by Julia Cameron: 

'On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft', by Stephen King:

'The Seven Basic Plots' by Christopher Brooker: 

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