Poof and the Piglet is a homemade picture book written and illustrated by a 10-year-old who was given the title as inspiration. The 10-year-old has also been taught universal story structure.
Poof is the star of an entire series of books. Sometimes she has a sidekick called Worm-hoop (an English owl). This time Worm-hoop is replaced by a pig. I think she may have been influenced by the Elephant and Piggie series.
She has played with lettering on the front cover, understanding that one of the stand out features of pigs is their curly tails.
Inciting incident. Continue reading “Poof and the Piglet”
“Flowering Judas” is the standout short story by Pulizer Prize winning Katherine Anne Porter, included in a collection published 1930 when Porter was 40. This short story reminds me of “A Dill Pickle” by Katherine Mansfield. Both stories are clearly about the way in which women are socially acculturated into providing emotional labour for men, but written in a time before such language existed to described the phenomenon. Instead, female short story writers showed it by dramatising such relationships in fiction. Continue reading “Flowering Judas by Katherine Anne Porter”
See, “The Gift Of The Magi” (1905) is why we don’t buy secret gifts. Aren’t we always told in relationships that communication is key? Yes, yes it is. Either buy your own presents, or drop strong hints in the lead up to gift giving season.
Wait, that’s not what I’m meant to take away from this story, is it. For the likes of me, reading the story a century later, O. Henry does a Charles Perrault and tells us exactly what we’re supposed to takeaway in a dedicated paragraph at the end — that sacrificially giving gifts is excellent for human relationships.
O. Henry was the pen name of William Sydney Porter. Continue reading “The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry”
You may not believe in ghost stories. I don’t either. But once you understand how ghost stories work, you’ll understand how tools of persuasion are used in other realms. Studying the ghost story is a fun way to study the techniques of persuasion.
Ghost stories have plenty of other functions, too. Continue reading “When Everyone Else Is A Ghost”
Unmentionable (1991) is a collection of 9 hi-lo short stories by iconic Australian author Paul Jennings.
STORY STRUCTURE OF “ICE MAIDEN”
In “Ice Maiden”, a boy falls in love with an ice statue, but he gets over his love for the ice once he meets a real girl.
I have some sympathy for the phenomenon whereby adolescents lust after (hopefully) safe targets — celebrities, cartoon characters, teachers, coaches. These objects feel safe because they will never reciprocate our nascent lust.
“Ice Maiden” is about the humiliation sometimes felt when lusting after someone — or something — utterly unattainable.
There are strong echoes of Pygmalion in any story with a plot like this. Jennings has rewritten Pygmalion knowingly, with mention of a Greek statue. I’ve written about Pygmalion previously. The Greek myth is inherently sexist. When writing this humorous retelling for kids, Paul Jennings didn’t manage to subvert that aspect at all. I don’t believe he manages any subversion in “Ice Maiden”.
The image of the beautiful frozen girl is also inside a glass case, which has echoes of fairytales such as Snow White. Continue reading “Unmentionable by Paul Jennings”
Unbelievable is a short story collection by Australian author Paul Jennings, copyrighted 1986. These are tall tales for eight-year-olds. Australia has a long history of tall tales, and Jennings very successfully adapted the techniques for a child audience. The 1980s was the decade of the irreverent male children’s author. Roald Dahl was the stand-out giant in this field, after starting out writing stories for adults. These days we have David Walliams and various other male authors. This genre of story continues to be a masculine domain, even though children’s literature is an industry full of women. This is carried over in Jennings’ stories for children. Continue reading “Unbelievable by Paul Jennings Hi-lo Short Fiction”
Unreal is a collection of 8 short stories, first published 1985. This was the book that really kicked-off Jennings’ career as a children’s author. Though it wasn’t called that at the time, these books are excellent examples of hi-lo literature.
I am revisiting the work of Paul Jennings with the benefit of 2019 hindsight. I’d like to clarify what writing lessons I can learn from Paul Jennings, against what to throw out. Continue reading “Unreal by Paul Jennings Hi-lo Short Fiction”
“The Murders In The Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe (1841) is thought to be the first modern detective story. (Oedipus is sometimes considered the first one on record.)
For me there is little interesting about this story, except for its influence on the crime genre. That in itself makes it worth reading. As I read, I tried to put myself in the mid of a mid-nineteenth century reader. Unlike us, these readers were not bombarded daily by one nasty crime after another. We’re now at a point where it’s necessary for your mental health and happiness to limit exposure to your newsfeed, but “The Murders In The Rue Morgue” was written long before the notion of ‘serial killer’ existed. I imagine this story was gripping. Continue reading “The Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe”
A detective story is a type of mystery told through the eyes of law enforcers. Crime stories, in contrast, are often told through the eyes of the criminal. An example of a crime story is The Sopranos.
Detective stories relate the solving of a crime, usually one or more murders, by a main character who may or may not be a professional investigator. This large, popular genre has many subgenres, reflecting differences in tone, character. It always contains criminal and detective settings.
Though a typical audience probably doesn’t have a firm idea of the differences, from a writer’s point of view detective, crime and thriller are three very different forms and structures. Detective stories are often marketed as mysteries, perhaps with mystery in the title.
Detective stories are super popular. The detective story, specifically the police procedural, is far more popular than crime, worldwide. Continue reading “What is a detective story?”
Below, I list a collection of thought-provoking tips on writing the thriller genre. It’s not that easy to pinpoint what a thriller is, because a lot of descriptions focus on the tone. But this doesn’t help writers much. From a writing point of view, the thriller must contain certain things, otherwise it’s not a thriller.
Thriller is a hybrid genre of mystery and horror with crime and action elements. Each thriller story will have its own balance of these things. This explains why we can still be surprised by a thriller, even though the genre conventions are so strict.
The thriller is difficult to write. You’re writing characters who don’t tend to act as people do in real life, yet the audience has to believe they could behave like that, given the same outlandish circumstances. So when writing a thriller you have to come with all the reasons why the hero doesn’t just call the authorities. Continue reading “All About The Thriller Genre”