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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Welcome to the White Stone Series

Light That Fractures is released. J

            Still struggling with months of grief, Geena Morisi resolves to begin the New Year with hope instead of holding onto her anger. When an unexpected windfall arrives, she has to choose whether relinquishing her desire for justice betrays her twin sister’s memory or honors her life. Geena wavers back and forth between past and present trying to decide which path to take. Can she return to her art studies, manage her day care job, and raise her orphaned niece only on her own terms? Her decision will have repercussions to change not just her life, but Ana’s too.

White Stones Series: Hope, Faith, Heart

Six young women face life transitions that create tense relationships and struggles of faith. Will they have the courage to challenge their personal fears and experience new beginnings that stretch their hearts into hope?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Overview Plot Development: Patterns Part Three: Story of Purpose

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“It must be something he or she will be willing to fight for with tremendous drive and force.”  Lee Wyndham
A sense of purpose achieved is often seen in short stories where a character has a problem or purpose and must chose what to do about it. And it works equally well for a developed novel when the problem creates several twists and turns.

Often the problem can be stated as a question, which then makes the solution to the answer. The problem must be valid and within the possible achievement of the main character. Then the plot evolves from the situations and the characters. The solutions are achieved by one, or all, of three means: courage, ingenuity and special capacity.

In the engaging 1880’s historical, The Adventures of Pearley Monroe by Marci Seither, twelve-year-old Pearley faces a variety of problems including a jewel thief, a mining explosion, and a bear.  One special capacity, when he encounters the bear, is his knowledge and experience so that he can save himself and his little sister. If his sister had been the main character then her being little could have been the key to a solution to save them. Or the fact that she was a very fast runner.

Definition of Purpose achievement: situation +problem +solution=synopsis. The Character has to keep struggling right up to the end. The Climax is the answer.

This pattern works well in all genres. Here are a few more examples to explore.

Realistic: Jacob Have I Loved, YA, by Katherine Paterson (courage and ingenuity).

Mystery: The 101 Dalmatians, ages 8-12), by Dodie Smith, (courage and ingenuity).

Quest: The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, ages 11-YA, by Patricia McKillip (courage and ingenuity and special capacity).

Jane Fitz-Randolph recommends answering each of these questions before you write a Story of Purpose Achieved pattern.

            “What does my character want?
            What prevents him from getting it?
            What does he immediately do about it?
            What happens because of what he does?
            What Black Moment does all this lead to? (This is the crisis)
            What, finally, does he do to achieve his purpose? (This is the climax)”

Action Steps:
1.     Go to the library and choose a variety of magazines in different age groups. Skim read through the short stories, and see how many fall into the purpose category.

2.     Choose the plot line that held the most interest and adapt the pattern to one of your own story ideas.

Share: What did you decide your character wants?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Overview Plot Development: Patterns Part Two: Incident Story

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

            “The surface story is the one in which the action occurs, the one where the suspense is, the one that keeps the reader reading to find out what happens.”
                                                                                              Jane Fitz—Randolph

In her book, How to Write for Children and Young Adults, Jane Fitz—Randolph notes five plot structures that work well for these ages.

Incident Story

Technically according to the definitions we’ve looked at the incident story is not a plotted story but it works well for the very young and their perception of plot in that it captures their attention. The main character becomes interested in what happens around him and responds. A good example would be the classic Good Night Moon where a sleepy child notices her environment. These stories are usually quite short, about 300 to 700 words.

In an Incident Excursion the environment is more or less familiar, such as a trip to the grocery store, or a walk in the park. Each incident or encounter becomes more interesting.

            “When we reach our favorite
spot Mr. Squirrel
waits on his branch just for me.
We say hello.

First he somersaults, then runs
fast upside down
leaps up trunk, twirls down again.

We laugh, we clap.
He flourishes fluffy tail
then takes a bow.”  Excerpt from A Walk in the Park (not yet published)

In an Incident Adventure the situation is unfamiliar. Fitz—Randoph reminds us to “remember adventure from the very young child’s pov”. The very popular “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak definitely takes our hero on an adventure.

But for the very young an unfamiliar situation can be as ordinary as a fire truck hosing down a fire or watching a puppy given a bath for the first time.

Incident stories still must have an interesting sequence of events that build to a climax and both must have unity. Look for ways to us repetition, rhythm, and rhyme when appropriate to the story. In the story “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst, the terrible, horrible, very bad day phrase is repeated throughout each frustrating incident that he encounters.

For this story style the more specific and concrete the better.

            “Paint word pictures that help the child to visualize.”
                                                                                                Jane Fitz—Randolph

Action Steps: (Suggestions taken from Jane Fitz-Randolph)

Begin to practice tracking plot patterns for different ages and genres. For every story you read look for the plot patterns.

1.     State the story in one sentence. Then write a brief synopsis.

2.     Make specific note re the Beginning: Time, Setting, Principle characters. Include the Set up situation or problem.

3.     As you read mark the Middle: continuing scenes/action/plot.

4.     End: climax/resolution.

Share: Did anything surprise you? Why?

Read deep, marcy
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