Oct 20

Your Story Should Be Like a Roller Coaster

Writing and a Roller Coaster

I’ve noticed that people who want to write a story, but are new to the arena, don’t understand what makes a good story.

I’ve seen lots of drafts that are cute, but they have no story arc. They’re a series of related events or incidents … they’re not a full story.

Another thing, sometimes along with these story ideas that don’t have a story arc, a lot of new authors don’t want to make their characters real, especially the protagonist.

A story and its characters should be like a roller coaster, not a carousel.

First let’s touch on what makes a full story arc.

The very first thing is your protagonist needs a big problem. Something he needs to overcome.

Here are a couple of examples of a problem that needs to be overcome:

  • Maybe Rafael is being bullied at school.
  • Maybe Sophia just got a new bike and was told not to leave it alone anywhere. She leaves it unattended at the park and it’s stolen.
  • Maybe Rick is the kid who no one chooses for their team and he’s getting very upset about it.

After the problem has been established, the main character (MC) needs to try to figure out how to overcome the problem.

But the problem can’t be overcome in one attempt. The protagonist needs to struggle to reach the goal. He needs to try a couple of things before he finally comes up with a plan that leads to success.

Along with the MC succeeding, there must be some kind of growth.

  • Maybe, he learns he’s not the person he thought he was, like with Wang in Walking Through Walls.
  • Maybe she learns compassion.
  • Maybe he learns that winning isn’t everything.

When thinking of a story arc, think of a triangle.

The story pyramid
  1. At the bottom of the left side is the introduction. The reader learns about the MC.
  2. The trigger. The problem appears. It may be internal or external, but it needs to be addressed.
  3. The quest. The MC struggles to overcome the problem. The action is rising as is the conflict. The MC finds obstacles that must be overcome on her quest to find a solution.
  4. The climax. The MC has made a critical choice and is engaging in his final attempt. He’s chosen his path.

Think of a kid who’s about to steal for the first time. Will his conscience kick in and stop him or will he go through with it?

  1. The reversal. The MC plays out his choice. This is the beginning of change in the MC. The action declines as everything unfolds.
  2. The resolution. This is the reward or consequence of the critical choice and the climax, and it should change the status of the characters – in particular your protagonist.

So, you can see that having a series of related incidents does not lend itself to a true story, to a full story arc.

Next up, you’ve got to create real characters, ones that are believable.

I hear it all the time, my clients, new authors, want a fun, engaging story but doesn’t want their MC to have any bad traits.

In a children’s story, this means the young MC can’t yell. He can’t do anything bad. He doesn’t think bad thoughts.

What kid will be able to relate to a perfect MC.

Your characters need to be realistic, believable. Kids yell, kids can be mean, they can be selfish, they can be liars, and so on. They have good days and bad days.

If your MC isn’t believable, the reader won’t connect with him.

Characters need to have ups and downs, just like the story arc and just like a roller coaster.

Sources:

https://www.writersonthemove.com/2019/10/a-story-is-more-than-good-idea.html

https://www.dailywritingtips.com/how-to-structure-a-story-the-eight-point-arc/

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need editing, rewriting, or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

Writing for children tips

Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

Take That Shot

Traditional Publishing – 4 Advantages to Consider

How to Write Better Endings for Your Stories

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Jan 31

Writing Fiction for Children – Character Believability and Conflict

Writing for ChildrenWriting in general is a tough craft, although many may not think so. The writer has to take individual words and craft them together to create: interest, suspense, romance, humor, grief, fantasy, other worlds . . . the list goes on and on. And, it must be done with clarity.

While there is an abundance of information about writing and writing for children, it can easily become overwhelming, and even confusing. But, getting down to the nitty-gritty, there are two basic elements or rules to writing fiction for children you need to be aware of: creating believable characters and having conflict.

Writing Fiction for Children – Your Characters Need Believability

1. Your Characters Need Believability

Your characters, especially your protagonist, need to create a bond or connection with the reader. In order to create that connection you will need to care about your characters. If you don’t, you’ll never get a reader to care. Make your characters believable and interesting.

In addition to this, you need to know your characters and remember their traits, physical characteristics, temperament, and so on. I’m sure there are instances, if you’re writing by the seat-of-your-pants rather than from an outline, where your character may do something you didn’t plan, but usually it’s a good idea to know what makes him tick.

Even the choices your protagonist makes will help define him, and create a deeper bond with the reader. Does he take the high road to reach his goals, or does he sneak in under the wire? Does he create options to choose from, or is he sweep along by the current of the story, grabbing at lifelines for survival? Are his choices a struggle?

You can keep track of your characters’ quirky telltale marks, expressions, behavior patterns, and physical features by noting them on a page as they become unveiled.

2. Conflict is a must

A story’s conflict is like a detour or obstacle in the road from point A to point B. The protagonist must figure out a way over, around, under, or through it.

Conflict will drive your story forward and give the reader a reason to stay involved. Conflict is basically an obstacle between your protagonist and what she wants or needs. It may be a crisis, a desire, a relationship, a move, or other. It can be caused by internal or external factors. Does overcoming one obstacle/conflict lead to another? Does she have help, or are others thwarting her efforts?

Along with this, there should be more than one conflict. For children’s writing, there may be two or three conflicts; as one is overcome another takes its place. A good rule is to think in threes: three characters, three problems, and three solutions.

This is only the beginning and most basic of the tips that new writers of children’s fiction should be aware of. There are many more that I’ll touch on in other articles.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Rewriting a Folktale – Walking Through Walls
The Outline Method of Writing (Are You an Outliner?)
Submitting Manuscript Queries – Be Specific and Professional

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)