Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Common Thread In the Stories We Write

Have you ever noticed a common thread emerging in the stories you write for children? Take a look at what you're writing. Is there a pattern surfacing? A common theme?

Well, several months ago, I was looking at the body of my works-in-progress and I said, "Holy cow!" The majority of the stories I write revolve around the themes of family and relationships. Wow! I hadn't stopped to think about this before. But the more and more I thought about it, I realized, why, of course. Family and relationships have been the fabric of my life.

The backbone to who I am.
Where I come from.
And what's important to me.

So it only makes sense that it should appear in the stories I write for children -- from picture books to middle grade novels.

I Can Swing and I Can Run are two of the newest picture/board books I've written for young readers about two friends who share their escalating imagination whether they're swinging high or running fast.

In Grandpa's Girl, it's the story about a girl and her grandpa and their unconditional love and memories that transcend long after his life ends. He lives on in her. And my grandmother lives on in me.

My brother  and I in 2008
Geraldine June Acts Out spilled out of me in relation to my brother and sister relationship and yet it's entirely different from my childhood. There are pieces of me and my brother woven into the fabric of that story, but it's the characters Geraldine June and her brother Bo who tell the real story. Their story.

The above are just a few examples in my work. What are some of yours? Have you stopped and studied your works-in-progress or published books? Do you know what you like to write about? The stories you want to tell? And are there common threads floating to the surface? It doesn't necessarily mean you'll continue in this pattern, but it might give you a clue to uncovering the "real" story when you vomit up that first draft or re-envision the story. What is it that you're trying to say? What's inside of you? I know it's helped me to know what kinds of stories I gravitate toward.

Something to think about on a lazy, cloudy day. On a day where you're in between drafts.

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