- Final words from Linda Sue Park.
- My outline for novel structure comes from author Lois Lowry (I’m a strong believer in learning from the best!). I read about how she builds her stories:
- Complications and choices
- Once again, I've adapted another writer’s advice to suit the way I work. I divide “Quest” into two sections: Internal and External. In every scene I write, the character must either make progress toward or face impediments to the quest(s). As a corollary, it follows that the greatest number of words is spent on “Complications and Choices. ”Here’s an example of how I used this outline when writing my first book, Seesaw Girl:
- Character: Jade Blossom, a 12-year-old girl, daughter of a wealthy family, living in 17th-century Korea. Extended family? Grandparents?
- Quest (external): To discover what lies beyond the walls of her home.Quest (internal): To find her place in a world that severely restricts the activities of girls and women.
- Complications and choices: Depiction of Inner Court life. Possible escape? Friendship with someone who leaves home? Sees French missionaries on the road. Wants to paint what she has seen. Second escape?
- Climax: Idea for seesaw Conclusion: Sacrifice (what?) to accomplish goal.
- Change: character growth, but how? acceptance?
- As you can see, it's quite a rough outline and it's also the full extent of my planning before I begin writing; a detailed chapter-by-chapter plan doesn't work for me. I find the act of writing itself triggers creativity, and I want to leave myself lots of room to follow the story where it goes as I'm writing it.
- The final version of the manuscript differs in several ways from this initial outline, especially the “Complications and Choices,” but using it as a blueprint keeps me from wandering too far off track. What I like best about Ms. Lois Lowry's outline is that there is NO step labeled “Theme.” I think she believes as I do: That theme should grow out of the character and the story. If a writer begins with theme, the story is likely to be heavy-handed and messagey ... the kind of book kids run away from. And I”m running right beside them! -copyright@2000 Linda Sue Park and used by permission
July 26, 2016
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