How To Structure Any Story — based on John Truby’s observations, this post includes my mnemonic. You will find this structure in almost any good story.
Opponents In Fiction — focuses on different kinds of opponents. The most interesting stories include a variety of different kinds — there’s often the ‘monster’ overlaying opponents closer to home, like your best friend who is your ally part of the time, in opposition the rest of the time.
A Taxonomy of Irony — because every good story, every good scene, includes a measure of irony
Differences Between Writing for Children and Writing For Adults — a variety of quotations here, and a variety of opinions. Some writers think there’s no difference at all. Others write differently for children and this post explains those differences. Where do you stand on this issue?
A Taxonomy Of Humour In Children’s Stories — Are you writing humour? This post takes the editor of The Onion’s categorisation of jokes and applies them to children’s stories. It was a fun exercise, though now I find myself analysing jokes.
What Is Meant By Mythic Structure? — for the last 3000 years the mythic structure has dominated storytelling. A good number of your favourite stories are based on the mythic form, and I’m not just talking about fantasy stories with monsters and whatnot. The modern mythic story might be a road trip, or an adventure around the neighbourhood. If you want to write something that’s really cutting edge, try the Female Myth. We’re entering a new age of storytelling, and the world needs more of those. (Note: a ‘female myth’ doesn’t necessarily star a female character.)
Shapes Of Plots In Children’s Literature — This is another fascinating way of looking at story. John Truby thinks of story in terms of shape — circular, linear, vortex and so on. You won’t be surprised to learn that a lot of children’s stories are circular. Did you know that stories for boys are more linear than circular, though, and that circular children’s stories tend to emphasise the seasons? This post combines what I’ve learnt from reading John Truby’s Anatomy Of Story and the books of children’s literature academic, Maria Nikolajeva.
Gothic Horror and Children’s Books — What does Gothic even mean, as applied to children’s literature? Historically, ‘Gothic’ children’s books were what we might now call ‘trash’. They were only type of story kids could find which didn’t try to teach them to be good little children. Now it means something different. The Gothic is making a big comeback. Daniel Handler is a big reason for that.
Reversals And Reveals In Storytelling — Most children’s stories contain some sort of mystery, in which case you want to master the manipulation of information.
Must Children’s Heroes Be Likeable? — I can’t give you the answer to that — only opinion. There’s always some sort of tweetstorm erupting about whether or not children’s authors are obliged to create model characters, or else punish them for wrongdoing. However, I have looked into how to write a likeable character if you want to. And also how to make a character empathetic despite doing unlikeable things.
What Is Magical Realism? — Like me, you may have noticed agents asking for this, and complaining that hardly anyone submitting seems to understand what is meant by it.