New storytellers often have trouble telling the difference between “things happening” and “a story unfolding.” Without the ability to turn events into plots, there is no story, and audience will quickly become bored and spend ...
On Twitter, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats has compiled nuggets of narrative wisdom she's received working for the animation studio over the years. It's some sage stuff, although there's nothing here about defending yourself from your childhood toys when they inevitably come to life with murder in their hearts. A truly glaring omission.
Melodrama makes people think of bad soap operas. In fact, melodrama is about emphasising the emotional aspect of a story, but when you do that you can very easily tip over into hysterical characters who overreact to every little thing.
It’s a bit like overacting in a movie; a big performance can be enthralling if done right, and ridiculous if pushed too far. Melodramatic stories suffer a similar problem, although, like bad acting, they can still be entertaining when preposterous.
However, emotions are important in all stories. You want the reader to feel connected to the character and to empathise with their plight. And there are a number of techniques used in melodrama that can be applied (in moderation) to your story and help those feels reach your readers.
(As the author of hundreds of books across multiple genres and age ranges, Neil Gaiman needs no introduction. His appeal transcends age and defies labels. When I told my family that I’d be interviewing Neil the excitement was universal, from my youngest princess-feminist daughter to my head-in-the-clouds teen to my 40-something Sci-Fi loving husband. It is precisely because of this universal appeal that we avid readers–and reading advocates–owe so much to Mr. Gaiman. His diverse, accessible, and utterly riveting works have been the tools of ensorcellment which have brought countless non-readers into the book-loving fold. Here at Reading Rainbow, this is exactly our mission: to inspire kids not just to read for school or for their parents, but inspire them to love books, and to read for themselves. In this mission Neil Gaiman is an invaluable advocate. Whether you’re a child first discovering the written word, or a jaded and curmudgeonly bibliophobe, one story from the King of Dreams is sure to convert you to word-worshipping. For this, Mr. Gaiman, we thank you. —Jenni) At Reading Rainbow our mission is to encourage kids to love reading, and through books believe they can “Go Anywhere, Be Anything,” so I want to start off by asking how you got your start as a reader. You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you were an avid reader, can you remember how you came to a love of reading? Which events or books encouraged you down that path? Honestly, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading. I do think it’s fortunate that I had parents who thought I should be taught how to use a library, who would order books for me, and the arrival of those books would become a big special event. My mother would let us choose which books we wanted to read and then she would order them for us. I remember getting books such as The Song of Hiawatha. My mother loved reading me poetry and song lyrics at night. When I was very young there was an English author (who is now looked down on a bit) named Enid Blyton, who may well have been the best selling kids’ author of the 20th century in England. She tended to write stories aimed at certain age groups. The first books I remember were her Noddy books, about Noddy and a gnome called Big-Ears driving around in his little car. I remember shortly after those books you could graduate to more impressive Blyton books—which I did—with gnomes and elves, books like The Wishing Chair series and the Faraway Tree series. I can still remember seeing those books sitting on the bottom shelves and pulling them out to read. When I was six I discovered C.S. Lewis, and at that point I was lost. Two authors I discovered in my sixth year who I still love and respect are C.S. Lewis and P.L. Travers [the author of the Mary Poppins books.] I had seen the Mary Poppins Disney movie when I was about three and loved it. I remember later seeing the book with a still from the film on the cover and I talked my parents into buying it for me. On the one hand it was very strange how different the books and film had been, and I had a sneaking suspicion that while I missed Julie Andrews, the books were better; deeper, more powerful. I loved the way Travers told stories. I loved that she didn’t explain things. She left things unexplained for the reader to figure out. Have you passed your love of reading on to your own kids? They are avid readers. Although interestingly, my oldest son Mike didn’t become a reader until I had almost given up on him becoming one. He was around 11 or 12 and I thought I had failed. I used to read to him every night, but he just wasn’t interested in picking up a book and reading for himself until one year I took Mike with me to a convention where he met Kevin Anderson [author of the Jedi Academy trilogy and other Star Wars spin-off novels.] Kevin sent my son Mike one of his Star Wars novels and at that point Mike was hooked. He became an avid reader, and while I was always a proud father, I became an even prouder father. My two daughters, Holly and Maddy, are avid readers and always have been. In fact, I remember the day—I felt happy and sad at the same time—when Maddy was 12 or so; I had read to her every night since she was about two, it was our thing, and on this particular night we were halfway through Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and she said, “I think I’ll finish it on my own, Dad.” As a parent, do you try to encourage your kids to be avid readers? How so? Other than reading to them every night, I just made sure the books were there for them to discover. I think the most important thing I did to raise kids who love reading was to surround them with books. Also being a reader myself. It is a really good thing to be an adult and to let kids see you reading. When kids see you reading they want to read. They think it’s cool. There were, however, definitely things I did wrong. Things I did slightly wrong and things I did appallingly wrong. My wrongest thing was with Holly: When she was 11 or 12 Holly came home from school clutching a Goosebumps book by R.L. Stine. She loved the Goosebumps books. I did what I thought was the correct thing, and said “if you like these then you’ll love this…” and I went and got a copy of Stephen King’s Carrie for her. Well, she didn’t like it, not at all. And that was it for Holly and horror. After that she tended to read books with happy people on prairies. All of your books, whether they’re shelved …
I was a mystery writing pantster. I was rather proud of it.
This approach worked enormously well for me. Until, one day, it didn’t.
I was on a deadline and realized the book had several huge plot holes that I’d not seen until close to the end. I pulled some all-nighters and initiated a writing schedule that made NaNoWriMo look tame. I hit my deadline, but it was enough to shake me up. It shook me out of my complacency.
Today I want to talk about a subject that I haven’t really addressed much before: Bad Guys. And there’s a reason for that, because for a long time, I struggled with creating good antagonists for my stories. They were weak, and weak villains make for weak plots. It’s not easy to write a gripping novel […]
Real young adults need to see fictional ones self-destructing or fighting back because it’s ok to be angry, says CJ Skuse, who admires girl power at its rawest and finest in fiction There’s an angry girl in all my books.
I have found my new all-time, favourite writing advice:
'The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that. You don't write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid's burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance.' ~Richard Price
Sometimes after people learn I’m a writer, they confess to me in private they have a book inside them. They dream about it and long to make that happen.
I know others who talk a lot about writing. They post writerly quotes on social media, links to publishing articles and always know the latest industry buzz. Another set are voracious readers; they can discuss a variety of cool topics or brainstorm story ideas. They love the whole literary scene.
Whenever I get stuck writing, whether it be in the pre-writing stage or in the middle of a draft, my go-to tool for getting unstuck is the free write. Take a look at how you too can use free writing to get your writing unstuck!
Everyone has their hot buttons topics--the ones that get their blood boiling, or makes their skin crawl, or triggers an inappropriate response to the situation. While this isn't much fun to encounter in real life, it's a great way to create conflict and tension in a novel. Pushing someone's hot button (either accidentally or on purpose) can cause a character to act in ways they otherwise wouldn't.
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