Friday, December 2, 2011

Big Idea

What's the BIG IDEA anyway??


As promised, I'm sharing a series of posts with you on all the great info from the Mary Kole webinar I attended. Honestly, there was so much, that I'll have to break it up into several posts. Now, I'll be putting Mary's words into my own because that's just how I roll ... but know that all of it was inspired by Mary's awesome lessons on writing for kids.

To kick it off, I'll start with the basics .... and that is the BIG IDEA.

Big Story Idea, that is. In boiling down our stories there has to be a big idea or big question, or there's no story really. Pretty basic, but it's easy to toss so many ingredients into our story stew that we forget  the most important one of all.

So we figure out our BIG QUESTION or BIG IDEA and if you're like me, write the logline before the first draft so the BIG IDEA stays forefront in our mind throughout the drafting.
Next, we determine what idea will contradict our BIG IDEA--therein lies the prime conflict and heart of the story. It helps if we know WHY we want to tell our story. WHY the world will want to know about our particular characters and plot.
From this, we figure out our HOOK and the EMOTIONAL TURNING POINT. Each story must have them or who will want to keep reading?? In determining these basics, you have a rough draft for a query as well.

So what does a STORY ARC or plot look like:
* Inciting Incident
* Turning Point (or point of no return as James Scott Bell puts it)
* At least THREE attempts to solve BIG PROBLEM, each time stakes being raised.
* Black Moment (when all seems lost)
* Climax
* Resolution

And just a bit on the kid market, as advised my Mary Kole:

Right now, modern and future settings are working very well for MG. Some violence and romance are okay, but should be kept to a  minimal  for MG. For YA, romance is always powerful. Paranormal and dystopian are a tough sell right now. Some currents trends are light sci-fi, time travel, dream worlds.

Voice is vital for the teen market. And endings are best when bittersweet. The idea of sacrifice and the complexity of a world of possibilities is what draws these readers in. There needs to be BIG decisions made, consequences, disillusionment, and tests of courage and character.

Tune in next time for more on First Chapter Objectives from the uber amazing Mary Kole.

Tell me, have you noticed anything new trending in the kid market or market in general? What questions do you ask yourself before knowing if your story idea is worth writing? 

23 comments:

L'Aussie said...

Thanks for this PK. I've saved it to my Writing file. Excellent.

Denise

Stephen Tremp said...

I like to see characters challenged, then having to overcome by either digging real deep and finding something they realized they did not have, or by relying on help from their friends.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Ironically The Big Idea is the title of my guest post on Sommer's site next Monday. Must be something in the air...
If the story challenges the main character to change and grow, it's a good idea to me.

DL Hammons said...

How do you feel about open-ended endings that are obviously written that way with sequel in mind. The last couple YA novels I read were written this way and I didn't care for it. Seems like everyone is striving for a series nowadays.

Old Kitty said...

Thanks for an insightful post about the current trends at the moment! And the story arc summation is most helpful too! At the moment I'm concentrating on short story writing (of the women's weekly variety) so I guess my big question is am I writing the story the mags I wish to submit to want?

Take care
x

Jay Noel said...

I walked through the YA stacks at Barnes & Noble. And I'm thinking that there's a flood of books that feature a scantily clad female on the front. Last year, the half-naked girl was lying on a bed or something with a little red somewhere. But this year, the hot girl is holding a sword, or a gun, or both.

Anita said...

One thing I like about all the indies is that people are putting out such a VARIETY. So we're not getting bogged down by trends as much. It's cool.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

Go big or go home, right? But yeah...big ideas make for great stories. Just look at all the successful television series out there as examples of this.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Enjoyed the read, wonderful.
Yvonne.

Carol Riggs said...

Great stuff!! I need to run my new novel idea through this sieve. Thanks!! And yep, I think romance to one degree or another is crucial for YA. :)

Donna Hole said...

I'm a fan of open endings too. They are like life; once you finish once aspect there is always something new.

.......dhole

McKenzie McCann said...

I hate to be contradictory, but I do not believe teens want to read books with bittersweet endings. Teens are dramatic enough as is, and things with mixed feelings just don't sit very well with us. We live in a world with so much gray, that sometimes a pure black or white ending is a breath of fresh air.

alexia said...

Great notes! Thanks for sharing. And have a great weekend!

Catherine Stine said...

I like high stakes, a little bit of an open-ended story, lots of unexpected twists, and fresh invention. I agree with the person who posted about seeing too many photos of scantily clad people on covers for YA. I am into bringing back (or pushing forward) the great, painted book cover. How about you?

erica and christy said...

Well, I'm super-hoping that light sci-fi YA holds true. :)
erica

Marissa Farrar said...

I'm starting my own YA next year (a spin off of my adult series)so I'm currently hoovering up all advice I can find on writing YA! Great post, PK. I too will be saving this somewhere!

fOIS In The City said...

PK, these posts can be used for all writers, not just YA or MG writers.

Process and asking questions, doing the log line, putting in the tension or conflict, all of these can translate to other genres.

I only ask myself one question: would I recommend this book to someone else? That means it is a story I would like to read and when I like books, I do what you do, I tell others about them.

For writers in all genres it is a trap to think or write to "trends." So the best way is to write what you love and if you did your job, someone else will love it and tell someone about it ... Badda Bing as the man said :)

DM said...

I think in the children's area there are too many stressful, violent books being published.

When writing, the question I ask myself is 'has this been done before?'

Richard said...

Hi PK,
I've given you an award on my blog.
Richard

Carol Kilgore said...

This is excellent stuff. I came here this morning and never closed the window. I've been writing all day and came back to re-read before leaving a comment. Yep. Still think it's worth bookmarking. Thanks.

William Kendall said...

Thanks for posting this, PK.

I've been following very much an arc like that... my characters find themselves confronting the worst possible scenario.

The Desert Rocks said...

The secret is in the execution of the Big idea....

Scary word for young adult, huh? LOL

LTM said...

ooo, I've been waiting for these posts! These are great tips! Thanks for sharing, girl! :o) <3