A CALL TO ADVENTURE
Increasingly editors are interested in two things in fiction (1) adventure and (2) something a boy might read. But many writers are stuck when it comes to thinking about adventure. What makes up an adventure and can you do it well in 2,000 words or less (sometimes a lot less). Sure you can. After all, Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is a perfect adventure story in 336 words.
The adventure story is the basis for so many classic myths and legends–so much so that “The Hero’s Journey” has become almost a guidebook for adventure. So how could the circular structure of the basic “Hero’s Journey” help us craft a magazine adventure story? Let’s begin by looking at a simplified version of the Hero’s Journey structure, keeping in mind that for magazine fiction, the story must focus on the main character:
Ordinary World–Stories begin just before the thing that ultimately changes the main character.
Call to Adventure–A need arises, the main character has a challenge.
Refusal/Commitment–the main character resists the challenge, doesn’t want to undertake the task but ultimately accepts that the challenge cannot be avoided.
Approaching the First Ordeal–The main character begins to understand the size of the challenge and the stakes are raised.
Ordeal–main character faces a serious challenge and overcomes.
Reward–a time of rest for the main character, sometimes a false sense of completion.
The Road/Resurrection–more complications, when things look much worse than expected and the biggest challenge met.
Mastery–The adventure resolves, often a sense of coming full circle. The main character has changed.
Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/039
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Stories for young children are sometimes written in unusual forms. These could be a great way to ...
You’re probably familiar with the standard plotted story that appears on the magazine page with an illustration (or sometimes two). But there are others, and it’s worthwhile to know them, in case they’re exactly the right form for you.
This one is familiar to many (if not most) magazine writers. In a rebus story, concrete nouns are replaced (or illustrated in the line) by small pictures. Thus, if you used the word “tree” in your story, a tiny tree would pop up right in the middle of the sentence and either the printed word “tree” would be in tiny print below it or it would disappear completely. Sometimes there is a kind of “key” in the illustrations bordering the story that reveal what the pictures stand for.
Rebus stories are very short––often 100 words or slightly more. They often have some kind of twist or surprise at the end. They almost always use each concrete noun more than once and limit the number of concrete nouns overall. So, for example, a rebus with a fall theme might show us “tree” three times, “acorn” three times, and “squirrel” four times. They try to avoid nouns that cannot be illustrated, and stick to very simple concrete ideas.
Magazines that use Rebus Stories: Highlights, Ladybug, and Your Big Backyard (their rebus is done in-house, they don’t buy them––but you can see examples there.
Learn more when you listen to the entire episode!
Listener question of the week:
Would today’s fourth grade children be interested in what life was like for kids back in the 1920s and 1930s?
Get the links to the articles below in our downloadable show notes HERE.
How to Write a Rebus
What a great way to get published!
Metafiction - What Is It?
Metafiction is not new, but it’s being used in new ways. This is a great article to learn more about it.
Wordless Spreads in Picture Books
How and why to use them. Awesome article!
Episodes you might like:
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Really? Now you want to talk about this...at the start of summer?
Whether for Christmas, Independence Day, Fourth of July, Hanukkah, or whatever, magazines are a prime spot to sell your writing for children, but you need to submit it way early! Holidays as a cultural experience are welcome at many magazines. They expand reader horizons. You can also do well with holiday crafts, recipes, and activities. These are especially welcome if they offer more of a season feeling than a tie to a specific holiday. If a treat can be shaped like a Christmas tree or a Chanukah dreidel, you can probably find an interested magazine but if it can be shaped like a snowman, a snowflake, or a snowy tree, you'll have even more takers.
Learn more by listening to this episode.
The tips in the show notes, which you can download at writingforchildren.com/006 include:
Chase’s Calendar of Events -
If you're looking to tie a promotional event to a special month, travel to a music festival halfway around the world, blog about a historical milestone or do a celebrity birthday round-up on your blog, Chase's Calendar of Events is the one resource that has it all.
Goofy Days of the Year -
Get inspiration for new stories, or tie your book into one of these funny holidays.
How to Tie Your Book Into a Holiday -
One creative way to publicize your book is to tie it to a holiday or special event. You'll be able to reach your audience on a more personal level by promotion your book alongside a holiday, theme month, or cause.
Our listener question of the week is from Angelique and she asks, "What are the key differences between writing a story for a magazine and a book? How can we tell if our story is better suited for one or the other?"
Episodes you might like: Episode 002 - Three Keys to Writing Nonfiction for Children
Episode 006 - Magazine Nonfiction That Connects