Tag Archives: writing

WRITING CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS: The Struggle Between Opposing Forces (part 12)

By Yvonne Blackwood ~

In our very first article in this series I asserted that every story begins with an idea. I further emphasized in part 4 that every good story has a beginning―the point where you introduce your main character and grab the reader’s interest―a middle―the place where conflict builds up, and an end―the place where conflicts are resolved.

Conflicts

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, conflict is, “competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons.” Conflict is the soul of drama, and a key component of all fiction that is required to hold the readers interest. Without conflict there is no drama; your story will be dull and uneventful.

Types of Conflict  

Literary scholars have narrowed down the types of conflicts to five:

Man versus self

Man versus society

Man versus man

Man versus nature

Man versus supernatural

In your Johnnie Rabbit story, you will substitute Johnnie for man and determine who or what he has a conflict with. Is it farmer Jones next door (man)? Or is it against the vegetables in the garden (nature)?

The Importance of Conflict

An important question regarding fiction writing is, why is conflict so important? In some of my earlier articles I wrote that character, plot, setting and dialogue were key components of fiction writing. I must now add conflict. It is the glue that paces a story; it builds and builds to a crescendo. As conflict builds, it keeps readers reading, wanting to find out more―what happens next.  In my Nosey Charlie Goes To Court story, Charlie has a conflict with his Aunt Leticia. She has instructed him never to leave the park where they live, and he is to stay with his cousin Pete at all times. But Charlie is overly nosey; he must find out what is going on in the white building next door. He sneaks out of the park without Pete or his guardian knowing, and enters the building. A chain of events occurs after that. He is almost trampled by the many feet going in and out of the building. He slips through the first door he sees and finds himself in a courtroom! The drama escalates when someone screams RATS! Mistaking him for one of those hated creatures. The story climaxes when Charlie is locked in the courtroom unknowingly and he can’t get out.

There must be a resolution

Of course, as long as there is conflict there must also be resolution―you do not leave your young readers hanging. In part 10 I mentioned The Three Little Pigs; the conflict in that story was resolved when the big bad wolf fell into the pot of scalding water and the pigs ate him for dinner. In Cinderella, she married the handsome prince and lived happily ever after. In Nosey Charlie Goes To Court, Charlie returns home safely (though scared to death) apologizes for leaving the park and Pete is assigned to stay with him at all times.

FREE BONUS GIFT, a 32-page Nosey Charlie Chokes On A Wiener! Colouring Book  offered to eBook purchasers Nosey Charlie Chokes On A Wiener! picture book for a limited time. Books are for ages 3-8.

WRITING CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS: PLACE, PLOT, AND IDEAS (Part 4)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

Let the writing begin! You have followed the previous three steps (parts 1, 2, & 3) I have laid out and now you are ready to put pen to paper, or better still, you are ready to let the keyboard sing! What else could you possible require?

Like any other trade, a writer needs the tools of the trade—a comfortable workspace to read and write; a computer of course; a thesaurus and a dictionary—okay, I know that you can easily access these documents on your computer, but having a paper copy is a good thing for a few reasons.

Quick access book

(a) Having these books at your fingertips provide easy access so that you do not have to boot up your computer to check a single word. (b) Microsoft does not know synonyms and will sometimes give you an incorrect spelling of a word, or indicate that your spelling is incorrect when it is not. (c)When you need to find the perfect word, sometimes the computer will not provide it. The other things you need are a printer and paper. Trust me, no one writes a perfect book in one sitting. You will be doing a lot of printing and checking, and rewriting. I suggest you write two manuscripts initially (more about this later).

The next move is to write a plot of your story. Remember that every good story has a beginning—the point where you introduce your main character and grab the reader’s interest—a middle—the place where conflicts builds up, and the end—where conflicts are resolved and you leave your reader wanting more. The plot does not have to be sophisticated; it is merely a guide to keep you on the straight-and-narrow! Since we do not usually think through everything logically, sometimes you have to change parts of the story so that it makes sense.

When I began to write Nosey Charlie Comes To Town, I already had half of the plot worked out based on my original idea. The story was going to be about a family of squirrels living in a park in a city, and it was going to revolve around the fall season because I saw the crab apple trees laden with fruits in the fall. So what? What would be the conflict? How would it be resolved? These details were unknown. This is where imagination took over and as the creative juices flowed, all kinds of ideas came to the fore and I was able to complete mt plot.

Nosey Charlie Goes To Court is now available at Amazon.com.

WRITING CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS Part 1

 

A whole lot of reading going on

 

So you have a brilliant idea: “I must write a children’s book. The kids will love it!” Or maybe you do not have any ideas yet, but you have always wanted to be a children’s book author and you feel strongly that the time has come. What do you do? Every journey begins with a first step, and every story begins with an idea.

Ideas can come to you from out of the blue. This happened to me and I incorporated the idea into writing Nosey Charlie Comes To Town. But magical ideas don’t always appear this way. If you want to write your first children’s book and no ideas are percolating in your head, you need help. The writing industry employs all kinds of methods to generate ideas, but first you must decide if your story will be non-fiction or fiction. If you plan to write non-fiction, your story will be based on things or people in real life, therefore, it will be a matter of researching the subject, using your own knowledge, and determining the angle you wish to focus on.

In this article and subsequent ones, my focus will be on fiction stories in which you use your wild imagination to concoct the narrative.

IDEA GENERATION

 You have been around for a while; you have lived a full live. You have many experiences. You could use some of these experiences, or tap into your more recent exciting forays, or delve into your childhood days for story ideas. You are sure to find past experiences or events that you can shape into a new children’s story. Remember when you first attended kindergarten and you held onto your mother and wouldn’t let go? You can build upon such an idea.

Another way to generate ideas is to make old stories new. In other words, come up with a new way of looking at an old story. Angela Carter is excellent at doing this, however, her stories are for adults. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. You may be able to write a story like Goldilocks, but instead of three bears, it’s about three raccoons and they are brothers—not Mama and Papa, and baby, and it was not a pretty golden-haired girl who came upon their home in the woods, but a mischievous boy.

Or, how about an intriguing story in the news recently? You could mould it into a tale of pure joy by changing the characters, adding dialogue, and adding character idiosyncrasies—the potential is limitless. If these ideas do not work, you can resort to some proven methods such as brainstorming, mind mapping, visual prompts—photographs, and even musical prompts.

Next article: “You don’t know everything. Research, research.”