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.
- At the bottom of the left side is the introduction. The reader learns about the MC.
- The trigger. The problem appears. It may be internal or external, but it needs to be addressed.
- 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.
- 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?
- The reversal. The MC plays out his choice. This is the beginning of change in the MC. The action declines as everything unfolds.
- 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.
Whether you need editing, rewriting, or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: email@example.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!