We don't do stars...
We don't do thumbs...
We read children's books and grade them in 10 categories:
literary quality
descriptive ability
humor (if attempted)
illustrations (if present)
believability of characters
believability of situations
overall reading enjoyment

There is no grading curve. There are no points for classroom participation. There is no extra credit.
If you disagree, come speak to us after class.

The Grading System

A+.....this means (guess what) we think it's great. So great it surprised even us.
A.....this means it's pretty darn good. A book we'd recommend to just about everyone we know.
B.....better than most. Not exactly Shakespeare for kids, though, if you get our drift.
C.....mediocre. Like the color beige, it didn't stand out.
D.....we didn't like it. There were more bad aspects than good ones.
F.....it reeked of badness. We read it over and over when we are in dire need of hysterical laughter.
F-.....We're pretty sure Dante had a circle of hell for the people who wrote these...and a lower circle for those who published them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Special Topic: Thoughts on Plot (or, Just Because It Happened to You Doesn't Make It Interesting)

Here's a question posed to me by a former acting professor:
"How many truly dramatic moments have you experienced?"
The answer (pretty uniform through my class): "Um...two? Wait, maybe three... No: one, I guess?"
Which elucidates an important point: while true-to-life stories often make the best books, writers need to be selective about which scenes and moments (and how long of a time-span) they choose to represent.True-to-life and actual life are not the same things.
There is a big difference between the scope of plot in a fantasy novel and a contemporary fiction novel--but the fantasy writers often have the easier job, or so it would seem... Hmmm...things are getting slow: look! a giant, presumed-dead mythical creature just appeared and tried to bite my head off!
Only one problem: that's not real plot. It is action, and gives the allusion of movement and progression, but does it really further the character's story? In a perfectly crafted plot (or so I believe), every moment of action should be working double- or triple-time: yes, it should provide action and entertainment, but it should also further the main character's development and preferably be a result (whether direct or indirect) of the character's choices. Lastly, it should be truly dramatic. It should be a moment worthy of being written because it thrusts the reader into the situation, makes you question what you would do there, pulls at your heartstrings, intrigues your intellect, makes you relive the moment in your dreams and daydreams for hours or days or weeks afterward.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's actually a really good point about the difference between developing plot and merely adding action - I'll have to look for that in my reading!