This barely qualifies as a weekend workshop worthy book, but since I skipped a weekend or two and have nothing for the upcoming weekend, I’ll post it. LOL.
I picked up Write Your Own Mystery Story by Tish Farrell when it caught my eye while I was picking up a different book on writing from the shelf next to it. I thought I might find some useful tid bits for the kids version of Nano to Piblish which I may or may not teach at the coop next year.
As I have found with out “junior” how to books, it’s a little insulting to kids. This one calls it a burger joint rather than the Malt Shop but it’s still out of date and vaguely condescending. “Write” takes a youngster through a generalized plan, develop, write, edit, and publish run down. Guess no one needs my class after all. LOL. But it’s really, really general. Really general. Although it does say not to use the word really or very for that matter and to edit out all extraneous adverbs. (Is there anyone who hasn’t been influenced by King on adverbs and the road to hell?)
The book leans heavily on plot. On working it all out ahead of time. Plotting each scene. Fully knowing your characters before you start. And I maintain you need to leave room. Room for your characters to develop as you write, for the characters to grow. You can’t plan their growth arc. Anymore than I can plan my six year old’s growth arc. And you need to leave room for story to find it’s own way, for your characters who are growing and changing to show you the cool stuff that matters.
I did make note of some suggested writing exercises and then modify them for my class notes for next year. I’ll tell you about one here. I took a book suggestion and decided I would have my class invent a character and provide a short sketch of the character, just three lines. Then I would throw those into a hat. Each student would randomly select a character. Then I would have another hat of situations I had created and the students would randomly select one of those. Each student would explain either how the character got into the situation or how they are going to get out of it. I think it will be fun.