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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Overview Plot Development: Historical Literature

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“This is perhaps the greatest challenge of the writer of historical stories: to make history come alive.” George Edward Stanley

What assumptions can we make about this particular ‘world’ based on this moment in time?                                             

Look at this ordinary day excerpt:

            “From the barn I see my mother on the back porch washing beans,
            my little sister with her dolls there on the stoop, my father
            leading horses from the field.

            Morning sun crawls up, a yellow dog just waking,
            stretching one leg and another, then
            its wide-mouthed fiery yawn.  I rub my eyes and push
            my hand behind a plank, grope until my fingers
            close around the edges of a wooden box. Crouched

            He stands inside the door, his hat pulled down, a bridle
            Hanging loosely in his hands. Behind him, sunlight
            Makes shadows dance across the dusty floor.”

What kind of scene are you seeing? What emotions do you apply to this reading? Pick out specific words that you think contribute the most emotional weight.
            “It’s not because my daddy thinks
            the South should fight against the North,
            but we’ve been so long a piece of Tennessee
            today we’re leaving for the war.”

Excerpt from Moon Over Tennessee, A Boy’s Civil War Journal by Craig Crist-Evans (pgs 7-9)

How does this sparse, yet detailed setting affect character and theme? Based on these few verses, what do you expect to happen?

“It’s important that the writer help the young person of today identify with the young person of yesterday.” George Edward Stanley

As an historical setting this passage establishes place, historical framework, season, time of day, moods, and atmosphere. Its authenticity allows us to fully participate.

A decision that needs to be incorporated is what is the level of historical importance to your world and what are the key factors that you want to maintain as its influence? In what ways can the plot points strengthen the history?

“The bottom line is that the portrayal should be truthful.” George Edward Stanley

Action Steps:

1. Choose a place in your novel and describe it with its history. Integrate what was there by first describing both the present, and the absent, and then the present and the past.

2. After you have chosen and written one from an “historical” viewpoint, rewrite it from a family history perspective within the same framework.

Share: Did you find some new plot points or patterns?

                                                   Read deep, marcy

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