Monday, August 10, 2009

Ann Paul - Starting Strong

Well, for those of you not lucky enough to be in the room with Ann Whitford Paul right now, I have a small consolation prize at the bottom of this post.

One of Ann's rules for a strong beginning: Let the reader know right away what the tone of your story is - sad, silly, scary, serious, etc. Imagine reading a story that has a happy title and starts off sounding cheerful and finding out a few pages in that the characters beloved PET dies!

Ann then provides examples of differently toned stories.

A good example of a sad story done well: THE TENTH GOOD THING ABOUT BARNEY by Judith Viorst (and the fantastic illustrations of Erik Blevgad).

First page text:

My cat Barney died last Friday.
I was very sad.

I cried, and I didn't watch television.
I cried and I didn't eat my chicken or even the chocolate pudding.
I went to bed and I cried.

The first line of the story sets up the tone. The two first lines are 'telling' lines, yes, says Ann, but then we go on to be 'shown' how sad the main character is in the next three lines. We also get a little taste of humor with the line about chocolate pudding. A very strong start to a wonderful picture book.

Ann gives other examples of strong story beginnings. She tells the audience about her 'W's (one of which is 'Wow') and Ann provides the workshoppers with some, pardon my French, freaking awesome handouts.

Would you like to find the WHO WHAT WHERE WHEN WANT and WOW of your story?

Lucky you, Ann has a great new book out:

Read about it here and here and check out the book trailer below.


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