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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Give 'em a Problem

Want to get an agent interested in your children's story?  Give the protagonist a problem. This is what drives the plot.  Sure, you can write a piece for kids that has a lyrical language and a beautiful setting.  But without a problem, readers won't root for the main character.  There is no conflict.  The protagonist has nothing to go after or achieve.  


There are four types of story conflict:  person vs. person, person vs. self, person vs. nature, and person vs. society. Harry Potter vs. Voldermort is an example of person vs. person conflict.  In the book  Number the Stars,  the conflict falls into the last category.  For more examples, click on this link: https://catchingreaders.com/2012/01/06/four-types-of-story-conflicts/

The best children's literature contains a problem that kids can relate to and understand.  It's important that the protagonist finds a way to deal with it. In the end, she must not rely on parents, adults, or friends to help her.  She must solve the problem by herself.

In my upcoming book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell, the protagonist is Maggie. She's a bit like Charlie Brown, a kid down on her luck.  She has a big problem at school.  She's the only kid in her class who has nothing to bring for show-and-tell.  Maggie's conflict is person vs. self.

Maggie thinks out loud and comes up with unrealistic outrageous solutions. Midway through the story, she is filled with self-doubt and begins to lose hope.  This is a big deal for Maggie.  She doesn't want to come to class embarrassed and empty-handed.  

When there is conflict, your story has a better chance of attracting an agent.  Agents know that readers want to care about the main character. Readers want to learn how the problem is going to be solved. 

And Maggie's problem?  What is she going to do?

You can find out what happens to Maggie this summer.  Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell will be released in August.  





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