How to Add Red Herrings to your Story

Red herrings are elements in your story that lead the protagonist in the wrong direction of reaching his or her goals. If you’ve ever read mystery novels like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, you know the value of red herrings. They help to add tension and conflict to a story.

Mysteries aren’t the only genre where red herrings are important, however. Most stories (if not all) have red herrings, in every genre. They are part of the journey that the main character goes through in order to reach his/her goals. They are distractions that waylay the main character and help him/her to figure out what is important.

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How to Add Conflict to your Story

Story conflict smallYou may not realize it, but every story has conflict. Every story. Just like the “story concept” and the “MDQ”, if there is no conflict, there is no story. Even the most innocent, feel good, lovey dovey, soft-hearted children’s book story has conflict.

With a chapter book, there is conflict in each chapter. With a picture book, ideally, there is conflict on every page! You won’t get that feel good emotional response at the end of a story if there is no conflict for the characters to overcome. I have read so many stories from aspiring writers that are beautifully written, well thought out and nicely formatted. I can see where the authors are going with their stories, but they, in many cases, are not complete. A story without conflict is like a run-on sentence. It doesn’t have the proper punctuation. Continue reading “How to Add Conflict to your Story”

How to come up with a Story Concept

Story Concept smallLet’s say you want to write for children. It’s something you’ve always wanted to do. But, coming up with a great idea for a story can be difficult. Don’t let writer’s block get you down, though. The first thing you should do is think about the story concept. What do I mean by “story concept” you ask? I mean, what will your story be about? Will your story be about a dog finding his way home? Will your story be about a cat who doesn’t get along with other cats? A strong story concept is very important. It is the foundation of your story. Later, it will help you and your editor target a certain market, i.e., children ages 3 to 8 who are interested in cats or dogs. Continue reading “How to come up with a Story Concept”

Does your Story Have a Major Dramatic Question?

MDQ smallDoes your story have an MDQ? What’s the MDQ you ask? The BIG QUESTION, i.e., will your character blank? “Will Billy find his bicycle?”, or “Will Janie learn to eat her vegetables?” Basically, “Will my protagonist achieve his or her goal?” The MDQ, aka the Major Dramatic Question is pretty important when writing a story. Without this question there is no story.

If you’re struggling with how to present your MDQ, go to your child’s bookshelf or the children’s section of the library or bookstore. Pull books off the shelf and look at how the author presents the MDQ. Don’t worry, the store workers won’t kick you out. They don’t know that you’re gleaning valuable insights from some of the best children’s authors out there … for FREE! It’s your secret… Continue reading “Does your Story Have a Major Dramatic Question?”