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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Overview Character Development: Story Question Part Two

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“The deep tension…comes from impossible situations, situations where there is no clear right or wrong, no clear winner or loser, no clear yes or no.”   Ronald B.Tobias

What’s the Story?
            Marion Dane Bauer

1.    Ask what the main character wants and what his problem is.
2.    What will the resolution be? Achieve? (may realize desire is not important)
3.    What is the climax?

When the character changes is when comes the point of resolution. She needs to struggle and not just internally.

Ask so what? Richard Peck says, “need to throw characters into the deep end and watch them swim out on their own.”

The hero must solve problem on their own. Adults must be absent or silent to the resolutions.

Deal with subject matter that is appropriate to the child’s age level. Understand a child’s sense of priorities or perception. One time a grandchild said with pride that his dad had let him be alone at the park, which we knew was impossible. In fact, his dad stood just a few feet away watching. But the child felt ‘big’ because there was some space between them rather than being hand held. His vocabulary though didn’t reflect the physical reality but did his emotional perception.

The subject matter must be true to the genre. An historical must stay true to the time period. Look at the motivations that can occur.

Start in the middle of the story with action & dialogue, no backstory upfront unless it is crucial to the character and must still be an active emotional encounter. Connect us to the main character immediately.

Who—what—when—where—why are timeless questions because they are relevant.

The story answers the main question what happens and this part must not be vague. Give specific answers, not only for the whole book, but also for each chapter. Each chapter (and sometimes scene) has its own mini story question. We’ll discuss this more next section in Plot.

As you are developing your options and focus keep asking a lot of “what if” questions. And then what happened. These ideas apply to developing conflict, the character development and the overall story trajectory.

Develop Possible Story Questions

            Make a cause-effect relationship between your character’s behavior and his fate, his deeds, and his rewards. Look at the various options.

            Will Joe get the girl?
            Will Joe get Ellen now that his arm is crippled?
            Will Joe want Ellen when he finds out she just wants his money?

Story grows out of research and brainstorming different possibilities.
Research—need to read ***. Are you visual? Gather photos. Write out the scenes you see in your mind. Use brainstorming techniques that work for you: journals, writer’s notebook, or idea file.

Consider three stages of story development. First the General overall for ideas. Next the Specific for genre, setting, sounds etc. and third Detail for atmosphere and accuracy.


            Make an outline not even a draft but “a preparation” Tobias says as your framework to think in
1.    Start with a beginning.
2.    Pick an ending.
3.    Set some short-term possible objectives for your character.

            When developing your story questions Swain suggest that the first step is to get the idea of your story clear and it requires five key elements: character, situation, objective, opponent, and disaster.
Then suggests you ask the “will he or won’t he” pattern.

Action Steps:

1.      Write a brief sketch for a plot that involves a character in an external purpose and an internal struggle (mental/psychological).

2.     List three or four turning points, possible crisis points, from your story.

Share: Name one objective or disaster you choose for your character.

Read deep, marcy

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