December 15, 2021Extremes

A little embellishment in the telling of Aunt Harriet's parking lot escapades makes her tale more interesting to hear. That's one of the secrets to writing a book that readers don't want to put down.

They weren't there to witness the event in person as it happened, so they have no emotional connection to the event. If you're telling a fictional story, then it's absolutely impossible for them to have been there, so, again, there's no emotional connection. If it's something mundane that everybody does everyday, well they're at least familiar with that and will understand, but just daily habits don't evoke much emotion.

If you were telling how today you were putting on your shoes and bent over to tie them ... well, that's not very exciting.

What if, while you were bent over, you happened to see 2 large yellow eyes staring out at you from under the bed? Ooooh! There's something to build on! Build the suspense and end with something to make your audience jump!

What if you're like many of us, middle-aged or older with a bit of a spare tire around the middle? If you bent over, could you even reach your shoes to tie them? What if you tried to bring your foot up to you? Come up with a way to tell this funny story about how you turned yourself into a human pretzel! Maybe you got stuck with no one around to detangle you! Make it funny!

Emotional connection is the secret to a great story. I've said it before: don't tell the story, show the story. Help your reader feel the story. Don't just state facts, you want an emotional response from the reader. If you can pique their curiosity and cause some mental images to begin forming, you'll get the response you're after.

Get creative with verbs. Don't just say He said. Say something like He gasped, or He stammered, or He growled.

Keep adjectives or descriptions direct and simple:

1. There were big, yellow eyes under the bed and I was frightened when I saw them.
2. Yellow eyes glowed menacingly from under the bed.

The first sentence tells the reader/listener what happened, but it was happening to the storyteller. The reader/listener is merely observing.

The second sentence shows them and pulls them into the scene, where hopefully they'll feel a shiver or two up their spine!

Simple metaphors and analogies work well, too. Eveybody knows what a pretzel looks like, so describing someone looking like a human pretzel while trying to tie their shoes conjures up all kinds of fun images in your head!

This is the fun of children's books. These are good tips for any genre of writing, but with children's books, you can push the envelope a bit. Get silly, get over-dramatic, make the spooky as delicious as you dare! Make it fun for those readers, and have fun doing it!

And don't think for a minute that exaggeration is only for the writers ... it's for illustrators, too! Check out The Meek and the Mighty for ways to build a little drama and excitement into those pictures!

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  • Cooley Dixie says:
    2021-12-16, 07:26:30
    Awesome, thank you 😊.
  • kathy says:
    2021-12-15, 19:05:20
    Hey, Sherry, hope you take it easy and have a full recovery soon!!!!!

    Thanks, Kathy!
    We're both doing very well ... the bad part is canceling Christmas plans!
    NOT FUNNY!!! Like some cruel cosmic joke.
    I will be very happy when December is GONE!!!- Sherry A Mitcham