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“As a product designer, I am used to solving creative problems. I think that’s partially why I’m drawn to different formats, because I get inspiration from the problem. My design experience also helps me take critique feedback well as I’m very used to harsh critiques and revising based on understanding the problems that a critique uncovers.”

Through a combination of humor, culture, warmth and language, Hernandez uses voice to make his characters unforgettable and his novel hard to put down.

Lots of classic books have two main characters–Frog and Toad, Max and Ruby, Elephant and Piggie. I bet you can name some other favorites too. These stories work well, especially in a series, because the differing personalities create built-in conflict. In order to figure out how to approach a story with two main characters, let’s look at Kristen Mai Giang’s Ginger and Chrysanthemum, illustrated by Shirley Chan, a contemporary story of two cousins who love each other but don’t always get along.

This particular inspiration was already the second or third version of this story, which I knew I wanted to be about girls and friendship. In previous versions, they weren’t cousins. And for each version, I did literally dozens of revisions.

For Ginger and Chrysanthemum, part of that was due to the submission process, during which agents and editors asked to see widely varying changes. The characters of these hot-and-cold cousins never changed once they were born, though, and it wasn’t until then that the story began to attract attention.

Sometimes in planning a story, you might find that the character’s desire is a little too abstract, or that their desire isn’t really something they can affect. There is a solution: a controlling belief.

If you only give your readers one conflict after another without tension in between, you are in danger of exhausting, and maybe even boring them, to the point that they lose interest. Tension turns the page.

With an issue of a debate being at the heart of this story, it’s of course important to try to truly explore the issue, and I hope I did that.

Framing your story with a STORY QUESTION that gets answered by the end of the novel works because it adds forward momentum, keeps your reader wanting to turn the page, and–since you delay the final answer to the question until the end–builds tension

I’ve been struggling to fully understand the protagonist’s path in my own WIP. My protagonist and Max have a lot in common, so taking a moment to pull apart what made Max’s journey work was helpful in understanding where I need to take my own story.

Weisfeld envisioned a book series and a brand that encouraged and taught girls to be entrepreneurs through engaging, adventurous stories.