Isabella Kung’s debut author-illustrator picture book NO FUZZBALL! is a masterclass in how to use dramatic irony to tell a laugh-out-loud comedic story using a well orchestrated combination of words and images.
The more specific a story, the more universal it becomes. This is one of the most enduring bits of writing advice I have ever received. When we can write to one particular story, experience, character with specific detail and nuance, it makes it real. It feels true. There are always spaces to find our shared humanity, and this is only possible when we come to understand the richness around us.
“I create my characters’ flaws, misconceptions, and spiritual wounds around a theme or a question that interests me, and then I give them a personal conflict that directly challenges those flaws, misconceptions, and wounds. After that, it’s a matter of developing broader challenges, events, relationships, and conflicts that can revolve around the same theme.” ~ Misa Sugiura
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.
A lot of people want to be allies, or seen as friendly and open to the idea of friendship across races, cultures and social strata. This idea of “just talk to each other” may seem like it’s wildly oversimplified, but it turns out that if you want to know someone, it really is that simple. You may be nothing like a diehard gardener or wide-eyed tween, but if you’re willing to see a potential connection between the two of you, it will be there.
Empathy has its drawbacks, especially when reading the news, but on the plus side, I think it helps me create deeper characters. The secret for creating unforgettable characters is to give them impossible choices.
By identifying archetypes in my story, I figure out how to strengthen the conflicts as I revise. In researching this blog post, I realized that I’d chosen the wrong character to be the Shadow in the novel I’m currently writing. Understanding the role of the Shadow archetype, and selecting a more appropriate character to play it, made my book’s external plot and main character’s growth path stronger.
Soaking up the sun and reposting some favorite craft posts, starting with Jen Jobart’s analysis of Jason Reynold’s GHOST through the lens of Cheryl Klein’s THE MAGIC WORDS craft book.
Subity blends humor, action, Norse mythology, and character beautifully to make a story that’s sure to be a hit with middle grade readers.
I ask you: What questions do you need to ask your characters? If that feels too challenging, Walter Dean Myers’s advice in Just Write: Here’s How! is to “Come up with a bunch of questions you might want to ask about someone you just met in real life.”