Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wizardry Writing Wednesday #9 by Wizard Lexiconi - The Plot

Hello again, young scribes. I do hope your holiday was blessed and your buttons didn't pop off your britches. 

The frogs and I went up to the Castle and joined the Royal family in their feast. It was a grand time, until the dragons decided they wanted to be in charge of tree decorating. We skedaddled quick, let me tell you. There is still a cloud of smoke hanging over the castle towers. I'm sure it'll clear eventually and I hear they found another tree to replace the charred one. 

That's what happens, friends, when you let dragons get too close to combustible materials.  

Well, now for today's lesson. 

Now that you have your story idea in mind and have developed your main characters, including the good guy, the bad guy and any supporting characters, it's time to plan out how your story will flow. 

Not everyone likes to plan out stories. Some, called "seat-of-the-pants" writers love the thrill of discovery. To know what will happen next in the story kills the desire to keep writing. For them, writing is like reading or seeing a movie for the first time. They are glued to the keyboard eagerly anticipating what will their characters do next. 

THE PITFALLS: Such writers generally have more editing and rewriting that needs to be done afterward. They also risk running down boring rabbit trails, unnecessary story plots and dead ends they can't figure how to get out of. However, there is very little that can't be fixed. 

If you think you fit this description, then it's best to just sit down with a basic outline in your mind and write, write, write. Don't worry about deep editing or fixing until you've allowed the story to pour fourth however it comes out. Have fun with it.

Then there are the "Plotters" who look at their story like a big jigsaw puzzle that they need to piece together. Some go to extraordinary lengths to plot out their stories. 

You might start with a simple plot line like this: 

The exposition is your introduction where you introduce the character and the story problem. From there, the rising action consists of the problems your character faces, the defeats and the achievements. The climax is that moment your character will either triumph or die trying. Then the following falling action and resolution is the wrapping up of all the small plot threads you've created in your story. 

Another option is the storyboard, pictured below. I like having a visual not only of where my story will go, but pictures of my characters, as well. 

Beware, this does become a bit tedious and time consuming. However, if you really want your story to come alive for you, this helps a lot. 

PITFALLS: Some people plot out their story so much, it looses its flexibility. More often than not, I can plan, but them my characters decide to take another option. Don't be afraid to let your imagination run away. You can always reel it back in if needed. Sometimes, you'll find out information you didn't know and it makes your story so much better. Don't get stuck in the plotting so much you lose your creativity

Well, that's a good place to start for now. There are other ways to plot and you can do an on-line search for graphs and such. Keep it simple, silly. Don't be a toad about plotting out your story or it may never get written. 

Happy Writing, friends.
Let your imagination weave some wacky tales. 
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wizardry Writing Wednesdays # 8 - The Book of Thanks

Hello fellow scribes.
Today, we are veering off the beaten novel writing path for something a little different. Today I want to present a challenge. Today, I encourage you to open your creative minds and think.

Think about all the things you have to be thankful for.

Yes, yes, I'm sure you've heard this before. A hundred times even. But I'm going to be the 101. It's important.

Here's the first thing you do:

Make a small pocket sized book. You can get fancy or simple. If you are unsure how to put together a book of your own, here's a few links that might help.

A Place of Our Own: Homemade books

The Crafty Crow provides several options

There are more sites out there to get your ideas flowing, but these should provide a great start.

And why, you might ask, would I, Wizard Lexiconi ask you to make a book, instead of purchase the book? Because putting your time and personal touch to it makes it more special to you and you will more likely actually use it.

I do encourage that the book be able to fit into a pocket.

Now that you have your book made, look around and begin listing things you are thankful for. Fill the book with a simple list. Journal about experiences you've had that left you feeling blessed or thankful. Draw pictures of people and things you are grateful for. You can even take photos and glue them into your book. Collect items such as leaves, buttons, ect. There is no limit. This book is strictly for you.

Well, focusing your mind on things you are thankful for, things you've been blessed with improves your mood, lifts your spirit and brightens your outlook on life. It also fights stress and you never  know, there might be some great stories that you can later incorporate into your writing.

It's a win-win activity. I hope you'll join in.

There is always the frog pond for you if you don't.

Thinking blissful thoughts and the prospect of a big turkey!
Happy Writing Dearest Friends.

Let your imagination weave some wacky tales. 
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Animal Eggs: An Amazing Clutch of Mysteries and Marvels!

Animal Eggs: An Amazing Clutch of Mysteries and Marvels!

By Dawn Cusick & Joanne O’Sullivan

Publisher and date: EarlyLight Books (February 1, 2011)
Reading level: 7 and up
Book Info: 48 pages
Genre: Non-fiction picture book
ISBN: 0979745535

Book Summary
Kids who like animals will love Animal Eggs! Discover amazing colors and dozens of shapes and sizes—pink, yellow, orange, red, purple eggs, spotted eggs, speckled eggs, see-through eggs, and so many more. Explore dozens of wild and wonderful ways animals protect their eggs: male fish that protect hundreds of eggs in their mouths, female turtles that make elaborate nests on seashores, and female spiders that spin a silk ball around their eggs and carry the ball with them everywhere. Marvel at the surprising places some animals lay their eggs—in fruit, on the bodies of other animals, and even in dog poop!—so the baby animals have food to eat from the minute they hatch. Discover the tricks used by snakes, mammals, and bugs to steal eggs from other animals. Features a dazzling variety of animals, including snakes, amphibians, insects, spiders, crustaceans, fish, birds, and even mammals, all in four-color photography. Includes glossary and index.

Activity Adventures:
Readers will find everything they wanted to know about eggs and more.

Young Readers:
Egg match. Take a few of the more common types of animals and their eggs. Print or draw a picture of the animal on one note card and the corresponding eggs on another. Let kids match the animal to their eggs.

Older Readers:
The book is interactive in itself. At the end is a section titled: Whose Egg is This? Take time to guess who each egg belongs to before turning the page for the answers. How many did you get right?

Take a walk outside. Can you find a few of the eggs in the book? Search high and low for them. Make a list of all that you find. This can be turned into a Scavenger hunt type of game.

Crafty Ideas:
Gather your fabric, paper and assortment of crafty supplies. Make your own special eggs. Use some from the book to gather ideas.

Writing Prompts:
Create your own field guide of eggs that you find during your exploration and the animals they belong to.

Authors Arena

Dawn Cusick is blessed with many talents. She combined her writing and artistic skills and spent nearly twenty years working an in-house author and editor for a craft book publisher, producing titles such as Tabletop Fountains, The Michaels' Book of Arts and Crafts, and multiple editions of Quilt National. Her fascination with science and nature has now led her to create children's science books. In between books, Dawn teaches biology at a community college in western North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and not nearly enough cats.

Other works include: Animal Tongues and Bug Butts

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wizardry Writing Wednesdays # 7 - Character Arcs and Charts

Wizard Lexiconi here with some places you can seek for aid in developing your story characters.
Some writers simply see a character and begin writing the story about them. They are called Seat of the Pants writers who enjoy learning about the character as they go along. These people write for discovery.

Then you have your plotters. They need to know beforehand as much detail as possible before they can begin the writing process.

There are many ways to go about creating your story. It's up to you and your distinct personality on what will work for you.

Here are some places you can find help when creating your characters:

The Hero's Journey at Read, Write, Think

The hero's journey is an ancient story pattern that can be found in texts from thousands of years ago or in newly released Hollywood blockbusters. This interactive tool will provide students with background on the hero's journey and give them a chance to explore several of the journey's key elements. Students can use the tool to record examples from a hero's journey they have read or viewed or to plan out a hero's journey of their own.

Over at Enchanted Learning, you can find several graphic organizers to print. 
Graphic organizers can be useful in analyzing the personality traits of fictional characters (like sad, happy, talkative, quiet, smart, silly, lazy, hard-working, optimistic, pessimistic, confused, scared, brave, strong, weak, loyal, friendly, down-to-earth, snobbish, honest, emotional, etc.).

For beginning writers, learning what a character trait is the start of helping them to understand why characters are important to their story. 
Here's a PDF page to print and use on Character Traits.
And one more from Teacher Vision on getting to the gist of your story with the 5W and an H. 

Well, my young scribes, this should help those of you who need a visual means of creating characters. I hope you'll find something that works for you. Feel free to try different methods until you find one that fits what is comfortable for you.

Let your imagination weave some wacky tales. 
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire

Monday, November 14, 2011

Books to Movies - Newest Releases

Hello fair readers!
The Queen here today to talk about books that are about to be released into movies. I do love a good movie, but sometimes, the movies based on books leaves one disappointed and sometimes bewildered. There have been times when I've wondered, what happened to the wonderful story the author created for me? If movie people wish to make their own story, don't tie it in with this marvelous piece of literature.

I've spoken to many knights and wizards who are a bit reluctant to go see a movie after they've read the book. They fear the whole wonder of what they've read will be tainted in some way.

Well, I'm on the drawbridge about this issue. I have to admit, there have been a couple of times where the movie proved to be better than the book. But generally, that happened when I saw the movie, then decided to read the book afterward. Not often, has this happened.

With the holiday season approaching, there are a few books that have been turned into movies are are soon to be released.

The first upcoming release is Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer.
I have already procured my tickets, have re-read the book and am ready to see what they do with this blockbuster story. I know there are many young and older people I'll be standing in line with for the mid-night showing. I'll be sure to give a royal wave.

The next release of this season is The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Book Description from
Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

The movie is scheduled for release on November 23. What a fantastic Thanksgiving treat that might be. However, I encourage you to read the book first. I find little ones love the reward of seeing a movie of the books they've read. What a great incentive to encourage reading!

Here is the official trailer. Enjoy!

Finally, just released today is the trailer for The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
This movie isn't scheduled for showing until spring of 2011, so you have plenty of time to read all three books to get ready for it. Today's trailer release tells me the movie promises to be as exciting as the books.

Well, if you haven't read these books yet, you still have time to run up to your local library or bookstore and prepare yourself for some lively entertainment.

Happy Reading, and Movie Watching!
The Queen

Friday, November 11, 2011

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Good Day Friend Readers!
The Queen here with another perfectly fantastic read and activity adventure for you. I love the way Hall takes an ordinary square and transforms it into an out-of-the-box experience for young readers. This proves, things are more than what they seem. I do hope you'll take the adventure challenge and see where your own imagination will take you.
Happy Reading!

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Product Details

  • Ages: Pre-school and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061915130
  • Genre: Fiction picture book

Book Description
A perfect square is transformed in this adventure story that will transport you far beyond the four equal sides of this square book.

Adventure Activities:
You'll need some colorful sheets of paper. Cut the papers into various shapes. They don't have to be just squares, though that's a great starting place. Now, clip, cut, tear and crumple the paper into new things and places. Where can your imagination and some simple shapes take you?

After creating your master pieces, put them in your own book of shape adventures that you can share with family and friends.

Now, take your cameras out and about and snap pictures of shapes that you encounter during the day. Do you realize there are triangles in roofs, rectangles in buildings, circles in fountains? Oh and much more. Go on a shape hunt. This will also help you whip into shape some fantastic ideas for your perfect paper pictures.

Author's Arena:
Michael Hall is the creator of the critically acclaimed and nationally best-selling picture book My Heart Is Like a Zoo. He is also an award-winning graphic designer whose work has been widely recognized for its simple and engaging approach. Michael Hall is the co-owner and principal designer at Hall Kelley, Inc., and lives with his wife and two daughters in Minnesota.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wizardry Writing Wednesdays # 6 - More About Characters

Wizard Lexiconi here with another discussion about developing your characters.

First off, I can't stress enough that unless you have an interesting character that the reader will care about, nobody is going to care for your story. 

This is why it's important to really know your character, decide what the character wants and needs, and how you as the storyteller, are going to keep that character from getting what they want until the very end. 

So, now that you know what your hero and villain want, think of ways to hinder them. What problems will your character face? How you have developed your main character will determine how they face their problems. 

For example:
You've developed a mild-mannered little pig who gets frightened easily. So, when faced with a challenge, if   pig becomes suddenly brave, the reader will not buy it. They will hurl your story across the room and go read something more sensible. They might also wish that you be turned into a frog, which I can certainly oblige them if you do this kind of nonsense to a character. 

Keep your character's consistent. If your pig is a coward, then let them face each challenge the way a coward would. If you wish for them to be brave by the end of the story, then you will let him work on small acts of bravely, on purpose or accidental, throughout the story. By the end of the story, I might be more willing to believe your pig will stand up for it's fat little self after a few scenes of it progressively gaining confidence. 

This is called Character growth. And is also known as the Character Arc. That imaginary arched line that takes your character from the pathetic creature to something we can truly cheer for. 

All characters change during the story. 
Dorthy figured out she really did love her home. The Cowardly Lion really was brave. The Tin Man had a heart and the Scarecrow was smart all along. 

Harry learned, through seven books, that he really could be a great wizard because of his willingness to put love above power.

Wilbur learned he really did have value and was important. Charlotte gave him the words and the pig took them to heart and began living them. 

So, how will your character grow during the story? Think about what they start off as and what you want to see them end as. Make a few notes and tuck them into your story folder so you can check on how he/she is progressing along. 

Come back next week as we delve a little deeper into character arc and how it effects plot structure. There are different kinds of arcs to follow that can help you along. Trust me. Frog's honor. 

Let your imagination weave some wacky tales. 
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beginning Reader Books: Pinkalicious and Friday the Scaredy Cat

Pinkalicious: Pinky Promise
Written and Illustrated by Victoria Kann
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (July 26, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061928879

Book summary:
When Pinkalicious uses all of Alison's pink paint in class, Pinkalicious knows just how to make it up to her best friend!

Author Arena:
Victoria Kann is the award-winning illustrator and author of the picture book series featuring the whimsical and effervescent character Pinkalicious. Victoria coauthored and illustrated the first two books, Pinkalicious and Purplicious, as well as the play Pinkalicious: The Musical. She wrote and illustrated the New York Times number-one bestseller Goldilicious and is working on several more books about the adventures and antics of Pinkalicious. Victoria teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Recently she built a tree house for her Princess Pinkerellas. She often hears galloping in the house and wonders if it is Goldilicious or just her Pinkerbelles.

Activity Adventures:
Color mixing: how is pink made? Let your kids experiment with color tones using black and white to lighten and darken colors.
Take it further by starting with primary colors and finding what colors appear by mixing them together.

Color Books: Find items in your favorite color. Yellow is the sun, bananas, bees... what else can you find? Pick any color and look through magazines, take a walk and collect items or find your colors during your daily routine. Draw or paste items into your color book.

Friday the Scaredy Cat

Written by: Kara McMahon
Illustrated by: Maddy McClellan

Product Details 
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Simon Spotlight; Original edition (June 28, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1442422939

Book Summary:
Ready-to-Read. Level 1
Black cats are supposed to be scary, but no one has told that to this little black cat named Friday. So instead of being scary, Friday the Scaredy Cat is scared! When the doorbell rings, he jumps, runs, and hides. When a car horn beeps, he jumps, runs, and hides! But when something really scary appears, what does Friday do? Find out in this fun, sweetly spooky easy-to-read level 1 story!
Author's Arena
Kara McMahon is the author of dozens of books for children. She lives in New Yourk City with her husband Bryan, and their cats Angela and Friday, both of which were adopted from shelters. Supporting animal shelters is a cause she holds close to her heart, and she hopes that after reading about Friday, more people will make shelters their first stop when looking for a pet.
Adventure Activities:
Write a story about what is you are most scared of. Make it as silly or serious as you want. Some times the best way to face a fear is to recognize what it looks like first.
Make a black cat puppet using a paper sack and cat face cutout. Walk around your house and see what things your Scaredy Cat might be afriad of.
Maybe you don't need a new pet, but did you know shelters are always in need of pet food donations, blanket and items that make dogs and cats stay there more comfortable? Maybe you can find other ways to help the animals that live in shelters find a new home? What do you think you can do?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wizardry Writing Wednesdays # 5 - Motivating Characters

Hello again young scribes. Wiz. Lexiconi here to talk more about developing characters.

Just like us, without being motivated to do something, we would spend our days as couch potatoes. However, whether you like it or not, you get up every morning for school, spurred by the fact that you need an education. You work or do chores, especially if there is money involved. You practice and play hard at sports with the incentive that you might win a championship.

But that's not good enough for a storybook character. The stakes need to be higher.

Sometimes, it's a life or death situation your character needs to be up against, but not always. However, whatever the is motivation that drives you character, the consequences of not getting it need to be substantial.

Wilber, in Charlotte's web faced certain death if he and his friends didn't find a solution to save him.

Harry in Harry Potter had to face the evilest wizard ever to save himself and his friends. He was willing to sacrifice himself for his friends.

Wendy in Peter Pan didn't wish to grow up, but eventually accepted the fact that it had to happen.

Dorthy in The Wizard of Oz followed the yellow brick road into danger just so she could get back home.

Each hero had something they wanted more than anything which drove their actions and made the story interesting.

Here's your assignment: Get out your quills and parchment and copy the following paragraph, making sure to fill in the words in parenthesis with information from your own story.

Somebody (your character's name) wanted (what do they want more than anything else?), but (what is the biggest hurdle or obstacle that gets in their way?). So, (what is character's plan B? That thing they do to overcome the obstacle?), then (what is the outcome of that plan b?)

Again, it goes like this:

This is the gist of your story, the main idea of what your story will be about.

Please feel free to share what you came up with if it pleases you.
Return next week for more about character motivation. Remember, your villain also has to have a motivation. Try filling in the blanks for all your characters and see what kind of story frame you begin to come up with. Soon, we'll be moving on to plot and structuring your story.

Who is thinking about taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge? It starts tomorrow and it's not too late to sign up.

Let your imagination weave some wacky tales. 
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire