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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Overview Character Development: Classic Literature

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults
“So the tale as it is retold on the page should still be pleasing to the ear.” Jane Yolen


What to you makes a classic? What is your favorite classic? What favorite stories did you hunger to read as a child, as a teenager, as an adult? What do they have in common? What is different?

Common Ground

There are many variations of genre and style that are listed as classics but they all have some common features. Our books may never become a classic but if we can study and integrate some of their characteristics then our stories can carry a stamp of credibility.

Classics attract readers from generation to generation. Many once began as oral tales such as Tales of King Arthur, One Thousand and One Nights, Aesop’s Fables and Cinderella. The delivery style might change but not the core heart of the story.

For example, Cinderella is the most familiar folktale worldwide with over five hundred variations listed in Europe alone. According to Wikipedia there are over a thousand known versions. Picture books, poems, novels, operas and films explore this age-old blueprint, originally told in the traditional form of an anonymous storyteller.

And we still keep adding to the collection in both novels and movies.

Classics continue to be read across the centuries and across cultures. They cross genres as well showing up in historicals, fantasy, sci-fi, regional and mysteries. How do they engage such a diverse audience of readers?

One point is the credibility of the characters. Each of the classics taps into the emotional core of feelings even when their circumstances are beyond our reality.

Another is the reality of conflict. The conflict the heroes and heroines experience isn’t manufactured but true to their own emotional and physical events.

The themes underlying their struggles are significant and not superficial.

Then the storytellers engage their readers with their quality of style. They use language and metaphors and pacing that resonates with their listeners.

Most of the classics have their roots in the categories of traditional literature such as legends, fairy tales, tall tales and folklore. Also included are religious stories, songs, fables, myths and epics.

Action Steps:

1.     Choose which category listed above one of your favorite classics has roots in and read some modern adaptations.

2.     Look for any movies that may be based on your childhood choice.

3.     Make a list of what has remained the same and what is different?

4.     What scenes do you still find enthralling? Why?

Share: What is your favorite classic and why?

                                                       Read deep, marcy

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