Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Story Storming

The prolific Rick Walton, author of picture books such as Baby's First Year and Mr. President Goes to School, contributed this "story storming" idea:

"Let's get started. What are you afraid of? No, that's not a rhetorical question - I'm not suggesting you are afraid of writing a manuscript a day. But really. What are you afraid of? List all of your fears, all of the frightening experiences you have ever had. Add to that list the fears and frightening experiences of your children, your siblings, your friends. And then, start asking questions.

For example, I am afraid of walking home alone at night in the dark. During the day, no problem. I can see that that bush is just a bush, that there is nothing behind that tree, that on the hill next to my driveway there are no mountain lions ready to pounce on me. But at night, oh my! Is that a bush or a bear? Is there a tiger behind that tree?

So I decided to write a story about someone walking home alone at night in the dark. The first question -- who? The next -- why was she walking home alone at night in the dark? What did she see? How did she respond? How did the story end? Step-by-step, question by question, I wrote the story. It was published by Putnam. A Very Hairy Scary Story.

Now, pick one of your ideas and start asking questions. Who? What are the problems? What are the goals? What are the obstacles to achieving them? Who else is involved? How do they achieve their goals? Writing a story is like piecing a puzzle together. You do it one piece at a time. As long as there are questions unanswered in your story, keep asking. When there are no more questions, your story is done. (Hint: don't skimp on the brainstorming! One prompt might keep you going for several days.)"

Thanks Rick, for that story prompt that many of us probably sorely need by now!

If you've been anxiously waiting for the 2012 t-shirts, totes, and mugs featuring Will Strong's fabulous "Leap!" logo, check the now-updated marathon store. But don't spend too much time there - get back to writing!

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