Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Writing Tip Tuesday

Children's novels are a lot like scripts:
  1. They are relatively short.
  2. They need to reveal the story very early on.
  3. They need to be tight and active.
  4. They must be well-paced.
So I find studying scriptwriting, particularly with regard to structure, to be very useful.


When looking at a manuscript as a whole, you must be able to identify four key elements:
  1. Setup
  2. Development
  3. Climax
  4. Resolution


I think the most critical element in a middle grade novel is the setup.


The longer you take to start the story, the more you risk losing the reader.


The setup should reveal:
  1. Whose story it is
  2. Where the story takes place
  3. A sense of the style or tone of the story
  4. What the story is about
Number 4 (what the story is about) is, in my opinion, the most important part of the setup. In a 150-page middle grade novel, the reader shouldn't have to read 20 or 30 pages into the story to know what the heck the story is about.

According to scriptwriting formulas, there are two important parts of the setup:
  1. The catalyst
  2. The central question
Next Writing Tip Tuesday = Catalyst


Recycled from October 2, 2007

7 comments:

Andrea said...

Are the same four elements used in writing memoirs or do they have a different "script?"

Barbara O'Connor said...

I don't know, Andrea. I've never thought about how memoirs would be different. I would think not.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Clear, succinct and exactly right. Thanks.

Susanne Drazic said...

Great writing tips. Thank you!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

I've been working on a faster set-up right in the very first chapter so kids won't think it's boring (yes, I tend to be very wordy, and I know you *know* that, too, dear Barbara) but I think I may have finally moved closer to succeeding with that with my 2013 Butterfly novel. Fingers crossed!

The Many Face of Larry said...

Barbara,
I have been working with striving intermediate readers (who have not been readers) on the structure of texts.This is so huge from them. I think how important it is to teach kids that this is how stories go. I so agree with the quick "what is this story about" for kids. We used Popeye and Elvis this year with our fourth graders and they adored it...
Thanks for writing for kids (and me too :-) )
Barbara Coleman

Barbara O'Connor said...

Thanks for sharing that, Barbara!