Knopf Associate Publishing Director Melanie Cecka and Scott Treimel are faculty for the 2014 Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop and Retreat. Get set to learn your head off. The workshop format is collegial (attendees observe all critiques, e.g.) with professional face-to-face galore. Think of your growth as a writer. Get set to push it into hyperdrive.
* * * EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ENDS MAY 28 * * *
Pacing for dramatic effect Brewing tension Plot Layers
Subordinating plotlines Controlling the reader's experience
Narration: first person, third person— a lot to say (teach) on this one
Character Stakes The Antagonist Interior Logic More more mor
AND guess what— the venue sits on the Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay!
A collection of verses should not be a compendium of zingers. That creates a clumsy reading experience. Likewise, a musical (recalling JEROME ROBBINS BROADWAY, 1989) should not be two hours of show-stoppers. The audience, a reader, wants the equivalent of a palate cleanser: it sets off, and sets up, the razzle-dazzle of the big numbers. Mother Goose collections include light little-little rhymes for this reason, along with the brilliant entries, Hey Diddle Diddle, e.g. These balance the rest and make a better reading experience.
A little lighty-light SILLY SONG for the collection
One and Two and Three. Count like that and see. Numbers go and go, So One and Two and Three.
Think of a 3d Person narrator as a camera. The narrator shoots with three lenses— for close-ups, mid-distance, and long-shots. Each has different merits we very rarely see exploited. Hence this post, a mini-instruction.
We love 3d Person narration because its detachment from the action can be a place "to rest", to perch beside the storyteller and mull over the characters and the vexations (we hope) they face. We love the analytic prospects available to a 3d Person narrator, which, were they to come from a 1st Person narrator may well feel obtrusive, out of character, telling not showing. It all depends on the narrative stance.
A 3d Person narrator can present or withhold information— from all characters' points of view.
A 3d person narrator can pull up close to a character and detail his/her inner thoughts and feelings.
A 3d person narrator can pullback to show the same character as a small player in a larger drama.
The effects of these shifting distances profoundly, subconsciously, play on the reader.
So what about limited 3d Person narration?
Have you ever seen a (very) indy art film where the camera fairly sits on the protagonist's shoulder? It creates, pretty quickly, unease. The viewer cannot see around the protagonist, know what others are up to: the viewer is vulnerable.
In the distant past, for reasons that presently escape us, we respected limited 3d Person— for some kinds of stories. But lately limited 3d Person narrators make us feel imprisoned in a point of view, claustrophobic. The merit seems to be the relative ease limited 3d Person allows a writer: it is first person without a substantial character voice.
Jack and Jill was hard to hear our way through, because of the fancy ryhthmic breakaway. (Not a matter of counting syllables.) We saw this design perfectly executed by master technician Ogden Nash. Help us, gentle readers, determine if we need to rework or if Jack and Jill is finished. A mere Yes or No; and don't worry, we are professionals and can take it.
This is our favorite of the Silly Songs. It leads the collection.
There was an ugly duckling
Who became a lovely swan.
—Oh! The goings-on.
We love this verse because it summarizes our work world, but also because it reads horribly-horribly-horribly-horribly, the rhythm simply sucks*. You read it and did it not sound flat-dull-what-is-his-problem-anyway? That is because you read it wrong. The entirety turns on the "—Oh!" with the dash *preceding* the line. That is a clue for how to read the verse. This is no arcane rule; the leading dash derives its meaning within the context of the Silly Songs' punctuation scheme…it is the only time a dash precedes a line, signaling something special. That is the kind of close reading good poetry (stay calm: we do not presume the Silly Songs qualify) rewards.
So, how do you read The Ugly Duckling? There is speed going into "—Oh!" but a significant pause follows. "The goings-on" is to be read as befits the particular character of the phrase. Who uses the phrase, anyway? We do of course but we already know how to read The Ugly Duckling.The intonation of "the goings-on" is a combination of exasperation, affection, superiority, wonderment— the tone that might accompany an amused shaking of the head, as in Good grief, what next? We are happily to recite/perform Silly Songs. If asked nicely. Fees are reasonable. *merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.