Writing For Children Course: Week 3 and 4
You may remember last week I was a little distracted by the nit curse on our house (which has so far been just one infestation on one family member but a curse nonetheless) and didn’t post about week 3 of my Writing For Children course. So a two-for-one offer today with Week 3 and 4 getting a look in. In week 3 we explored dialogue in writing – what it looks like when it is done well, and done poorly.
‘What does it look like when it is done poorly,’ I exclaimed with much exasperation and contempt.
‘First of all, it is no good if it doesn’t sound like real people talking, which doesn’t mean you can put in lots of cursing and ums and ers, but make it feel real, and it’s no good if you don’t put question marks after a question or if you write a lot more than people can follow or even want to try,’ she cried sternly while sipping a milkshake.
‘What about using all the words that mean said instead of said.’
‘Don’t do it.’
‘But dialogue is fun.’
‘What, who is even talking now?’ they thought loudly.
We then completed an exercise where we were given two characters and asked to write a scene using just dialogue – no setting, no description, no action. One of the characters wants something from the other. This was my effort, try and guess what characters I was given:
‘Jeezus, what are you doing?’
‘Nothing, nothing, sorry. I’m just so excited.’
‘It’s alright, forget it. What did you want to ask me? Something about the movie?’
‘Oh yeah, the movie, well you know I just love everything you do. I mean I love you. Oh god I didn’t mean that, well I do but…’
‘Look love, I have about 300 other people waiting to see me. Ask me the question and I’ll sign the photo.’
‘Ok, ok, the question. Ummm, can I just feel it?’
‘What?! Is that your question?!’
‘No no, but can I feel it? It looks so shiny and soft. What do you use?’
‘You know what? That is your question. Your question is: ‘what do I use on my hair’. Well it’s shampoo. Ok? And here is your damn photo.’
‘Just one little feel.’
‘God, only if you leave…AAARRRRGGGH she pulled out some of my hair!!... Go on, get out of here, PSYCHO!’
Who are the characters? Did you guess it was a movie star and a (psychotic) fan? I decided the thing one character (fan) wanted from the other was a piece of (movie star) hair. Definitely not autobiographical. Although maybe if I had been close enough to George Michael in the 80’s…
Week 4 focused on plot - very important to a story! Cristy gave us some ideas on where and when to try and weave these plot developments into our stories:
The set up – the thing that changes in the protagonist’s situation.
The decision - when the protagonist is fully committed to reaching his/her goal.
The obstacles – escalating problems and a possible fake climax (come on, we’ve all had them).
The climax - when everything could not be worse and the protagonist has to save the situation by using his/her own inner strength and unlocking something deep within them.
The resolution – tying it all up. If it’s an American romcom, insert kissing here.
And now off I go back to the (other) writing. I am really trying to get some of my own goals in order at the moment. I have a few on the boil (if I publicly announce them I will be humiliated into achieving them, right?):
Send a 6000 word early-reader manuscript (The Great Race to Space) to a publisher by early April.
Send a 600 word (adult) short story to a competition by 5th May.
Send a picture book manuscript off to the KBR unpublished manuscript competition by whenever the hell that’s due AND
Get my nerves and bowels in order for a Writers Retreat at Rottnest Island in June (mostly frequented by well-published authors not hacks such as myself).
There's not enough time! I must stop doing my other job, parenting, going to the gym, eating, writing on this blog, and trawling the internet for images from Sixteen Candles (aaahhhhhhh…).