Writing for Children: Intro to Story Structure
People should take this class if…
you have an idea for a story and want to develop it into a magazine article or a book. It is also for writers who may have written a story but are not sure how to strengthen its narrative arc — one of the most common reasons for manuscript rejections. This class will give you a solid grasp of story structure, the scaffolding on which to build and flesh out your story. We will explore how this basic structure can be applied and expanded in the different genres of children’s books — from picture books and chapter books to middle-grade and young-adult novels — and you will come away with a concrete piece of writing that has had the benefit of instructor and peer review.
Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?
Yes. You can find me on Facebook and Google+.
Are any of your works online and available to the public?
You can read Hawaii’s Secret Seals, my latest magazine story for children; listen to an audio reading of my recently published essay called “Passages” in Secret Histories: Stories of Courage Risk, and Revelation (a book of short stories for adults); and view all of my books on my website.
What’s your teaching philosophy?
My goal as a teacher is to help you find your voice and create great stories for children with a clear understanding of dramatic structure, attention to detail, pacing, and language. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it’s the story that will grab a reader’s attention and hold it — or not. Reading and evaluating how other writers execute their stories is also an important tool in developing your own writing.
If you could have any famous actor read one of your pieces to you, who would it be and why?
I would love to have Will Smith read my book Soccer Dreams: Playing the Seattle Sounders FC Way because he would play up the humor and heart in the story and has a great voice!
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a book of stories about amazing endangered animal rescues.
What’s your favorite “rule” of writing to break in your own writing?
The rule “write from experience” should not, for example, hold you back from writing a story about a fighter pilot even if you’ve never flown a plane. You must do your research to immerse yourself in that world and talk with people who have had that experience. Then it is up to you to use your powers as a writer to ground the readers in that world so they can be swept away by your story.
What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?
I am currently reading Writing is my Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor, another Hugo House teacher, and Franny Billingsley’s The Folk Keeper. Depending on the time of day, I would pair it with a creamy espresso, a cup of Earl Grey tea, or a glass of dry, white wine.