Louise Hawes: I often spend months (sometimes years) filling a notebook with my character’s responses and thoughts before I begin writing an actual draft. That notebook is all in long-hand, as you know, and I don’t stop to edit or erase anything. My characters’ letters are in the first person, and result from a fluid, bodily connection from my heart to my hand to the page. In contrast, my draft will be typed on a laptop, the far less spontaneous product of me thinking and feeling my way into a story that features the character whose voice has already filled my notebook.
Backstory is a necessary part of telling a story, but how much to include and what to leave out can be complicated. It’s rare in books for kids to have many pages of backstory in a row (though Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate does it with style). At KidLit Craft, we’ve explored backstory in many categories and genres. Here are our favorite posts about backstory.
into YA and picture books (and even some early readers and chapter books). Today, we’re highlighting a range of picture book posts, from an overview of picture book elements to backmatter. Enjoy!
The 4th post in our “In Summary” series, collecting our best posts on point of view. These posts detail how different authors approach point of view, and tools they use to craft each point of view effectively.
Our summer series, In Summary, draws together a number of posts from are archives on specific craft topics. Today’s posts offer strategies for how to capture your characters’ emotions, communicate them to your readers, and make your reader feel something too.
Place matters. A story set in Paris can be transported to Atlanta, but the story fundamentally changes because of the geography, culture, language, idioms, weather, daylight hours, experience of time, and so much more. These posts explore how to establish settings and leverage them to enhance the reading experience.
This summer, we’re introducing a new series called In Summary, where we collect up some of our favorite posts on different craft topics. Our first post is on BEGINNINGS. Beginnings give writers the opportunity to capture a reader’s attention, to draw them into the story, to give them a sense of the tone, style, and point of view, as well as whether the character is one they want to spend time with. Beginnings can be slow or fast, voicey or reflective, action-driven or character-driven. There’s no one right way to start a story. But there are more and less effective openings for each particular story. These posts will help you determine what choices you have as you write and revise your opening and prompt you to experiment. We hope you get inspired!
Just because you have to use simple words doesn’t mean the story has to lack emotion or depth. It’s challenging, but early readers can still use all the elements of story—character, plot, setting, etc. In fact, looking to early readers as a model, writers in other categories can see how efficient storytelling can be without sacrificing emotional depth.
In our final Crafting Characters post, we dive into character relationships. These authors share the questions they ask, the strategies they employ, and the exercises the use to develop rich character relationships.
What does your character want? Desire drives a story. Yearning creates propulsion. But how to you find/create/discover your character’s desire? These seven authors give us their strategies for engaging with their characters’ desires in ways that make their stories richer and keep readers turning pages.