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JOIN US IN EXPLORING OTHERS' CRAFT AND BUILDING OUR OWN

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.

Jen Jobart details how Jason Reynolds puts to use strategies for developing compelling characters that Cheryl Klein outlines in her craft book The Magic Words. More than that, she introduces us Ghost, one the great middle grade characters of the last five years.

In your story, consider how your character’s Lie and Fear impact the plot. And look to the Midpoint and All is Lost moments to ratchet up the stakes for your character. See how the climax resolves both the plot problem (what the character wants) and the Lie (what the character needs to change).

More important than their differences and easily distinguished voices, these sisters work together as a team. And arguably, it’s this aspect of the novel that makes it so appealing. We see their cohesiveness in the initial reminiscence of the opening, but we also see it through their interactions and their family codes and practices.

craft review by Anne-Marie Strohman In the last two posts in this series, on Bridge to Terabithia and on Jacob Have I Loved, we’ve seen how Katherine Paterson creates inevitable and surprising endings, in both a conventional ending (Bridge) and an unconventional one (Jacob). In both cases, the character’s emotional arc concludes, and the character’s […]

craft review by Anne-Marie Strohman In The Art of Fiction John Gardner repeats Aristotle’s claim that the climax of a story must be “inevitable and surprising” (172). He is cautioning writers against leaving the big moment to chance—a stray semi on the highway, or an incident of food poisoning. The same can be said of […]

craft review by Sarah S. Davis In Part 1, we saw how Kisner shapes Brynn’s political awakening through internal conflict. Read on to find out how Kisner creates stakes that push Brynn toward change. Even Losers Have Something to Lose So what could possibly change her mind and push Brynn towards risking not just a […]

craft review by Sarah S. Davis When readers meet Brynn Harper at the beginning of Adrienne Kisner’s Dear Rachel Maddow (2018), her life is in freefall. Dumped by Sarah, her high-achieving girlfriend, Brynn has also recently been kicked off the school paper because of poor academic progress. Meanwhile, at home, after losing her beloved older […]

craft review by Kristi Wright A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE by Lisa Moore Ramée follows “allergic to trouble” Shayla as she navigates seventh grade, including her evolving friendships, her first crush, track and field, and her burgeoning awareness of what it means to be Black in America. After she experiences her first Black Lives Matter […]

craft review by Lindsay Lackey It’s no surprise that a two-time Newbery medalist is a master of her craft. Kate DiCamillo’s books are international bestsellers and have garnered numerous awards. She’s known for writing complex and compelling characters, rich Southern settings, and crisp, clear prose—all of which are on display in her 2018 middle grade […]