Peachy Weekend

I (and a group of local children’s authors) spent a great time last weekend in historic Hermann, Missouri–a scenic wine town along the Missouri River. We stayed at Captain Wohlt’s Inn where innkeeper, Mat Wilkins took special care of all us.
Senior Editor, Lisa Mathews, joined our company and provided us with many interesting insights into children’s literature.

Here’s her explanation of STORY STRUCTURE:

1. Act I: Setup—here is the mood/tone, hook, catalyst, antagonist (which can be a situation as well as a person), the intro to the MC/personality, the issue which will lead to the turning point—conflict must come right away. There does not have to be a great deal of setting and character analysis right at first. It’s more important to have action with a purpose which propels the story
2. By the end of Act I, there should be a problem/turning point (a challenge revealed)
3. Act II—problem intensifies/ a barrier/ complication
4. Character has a temporary triumph
5. New info (a reversal) leads to more problems/ and perhaps a deadline looms
6. Dark Moment—the MC fails (or seems to) and the goal seems even farther away
7. Another turning point—the MC has to make a decision
8. Act III—the final obstacle (MC is pushed to her limit)
9. Climax—she faces the obstacle
10. Resolution

Lisa also spoke of a STEP OUTLINE for help in writing a story.
In this type of outline, a phrase/sentence for each chapter provides a very brief outline of the story and shows the story arc. I was encouraged to hear her explain this concept because it is basically what I do when developing a story. It provides a very loose framework that allows me to know where I’m going—which helps eliminates writer’s block—but it is so basic that it also encourages me to be creative with each new scene. I usually don’t know exactly how the scene will play out or what the characters will say or do. I think it helps keep the story fresh.

The two Peachtree books at the top are by my writer friends, Kristen Nitz and Jeanie Ransom, who also attended the weekend retreat. Here are their websites where you can find out more about them: