By Donna Cangelosi
Happy Takeaway Tuesday! We're delighted to welcome Alayne Kay Christian, creator and teacher of ART OF ARC, an online picture book writing class that addresses the elements of a traditional story arc. Back in 2015, I was a beta reader for the course and found it invaluable. Here's an inside look.
Welcome Alayne! How did you come up with the idea for Art of Arc?
After critiquing hundreds of picture book manuscripts, I saw the same issues repeatedly. As my professional critiques include mini lessons, I found myself recreating the same lessons but customizing them for each story I critiqued. There had to be an easier, more efficient way to do this. And a course was born. The reason I created a course that focuses on the classic arc is because 90% of the stories I critique are built around that structure. It is the number one structure in picture books.
Describe how the class is taught.
Art of Arc is a self-study course. Students work at their own pace. It includes 217 pages with ten lessons, seventeen supplements, and eighteen worksheets. Plus, bonus materials and resources. The course materials are delivered all at one time via email in PDF and MS Word formats. Students have access to a private Facebook group where they can ask questions and get support.
Please give examples of picture books with good story arcs.
The main plot points of the story arc usually include the exposition, ordinary world, inciting incident, rising action, climax, and falling action that slips into resolution.
Tammi Sauer's picture books tend to be perfect examples of arc so I have to include one here:
by Tammi Sauer and Scott Magoon
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2010
Ordinary World: Bernadette is a monster who is also sweet.
Inciting Incident: "When it came time to go to school with the other monsters, Bernadette felt a teensy bit nervous..."
Rising Action: Bernadette tries and fails several times to fit in with the other monsters.
Darkest Moment: Bernadette is left alone inside, watching monsters be monsters outside.
Inner Climax: Bernadette gets an idea that might allow her to be herself and still win over the other monsters.
Outer Climax: Bernadette puts the idea into action.
What Do You Do With a Problem?
by Kobi Yamada Illustrated by Mae Besom
Compendium, Inc. 2016
Ordinary World: Some books don't show the ordinary world, and this is one. It jumps right into the inciting incident.
Inciting Incident: A problem appears. Boy has no idea how it happened but it is there.
Rising Action: Boy tries and fails several times to hide from and avoid his problem, but the problem just keeps getting bigger.
Darkest Moment: The problem grows until the boy can't take it anymore.
Inner Climax: The boy contemplates his problem, has a change of thinking, and comes up with a plan.
Outer Climax: The boy puts his plan into action.
Resolution: The boy learns something about himself and his problem.
The Most Magnificent Thing
by Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press 2014
Ordinary World: Girl and dog do all kinds of things together--race, eat, relax. Girl makes things. Dog unmakes things.
Inciting Incident: Girl has an idea. She will make the most MAGNIFICENT thing.
Rising Action: She tries and fails to make the most magnificent thing several times. She attracts some admirers of her failures. But people don't understand. They can't see the magnificent thing she has in her mind.
Darkest Moment: The girl gets mad from frustration and takes her frustration out on her attempts at the most magnificent thing until she smashes her finger and her temper EXPLODES and then she gives up. "I'm no good at this. I QUIT."
Inner Climax: She takes a walk and discovers a new approach.
Outer Climax: She goes back to work on the magnificent thing using her new approach.
Resolution: She creates THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING.
Thank you for a wonderful interview, Alayne!
Alayne is offering a 25% discount on her Art of Arc course through April 15, 2018 if you mention KidLitTakeaways.
Alayne Kay Christian is the author of the Sienna, the Cowgirl Fairy chapter book series and the award-winning picture book, Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa. She is a critique ninja for Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12. Alayne is a graduate of the Institute for Children's Literature and has spent the last ten years studying under some of the top names in children's literature.
Art of Arc info: http://www.alaynekaychristian.compage05.html
Donna Cangelosi and Chana Stiefel are picture book critique partners & friends who are passionate about kids' books & are eager to share tidbits from their writing journey with other aspiring writers.