Monday, February 11, 2013

Picture Book Workshop #3: Character Objective

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to part three of my PICTURE BOOK WORKSHOP. 

Today I thought it would be good to start crafting a story.  The first thing you're going to do is create a main character and then, establish what the character wants.

Here's an example.  In the wonderful picture book, STUCK by Oliver Jeffers, Floyd's kite is stuck in a tree.  He tries tugging on it, but it won't come down. 

Who's the main character?  Floyd.
What does he want?  To get his kite back.

Simple enough.  Right?

The humor and charm comes from the different things Floyd throws up into the tree to loosen his kite.  And, as you can imagine from the title, they all get stuck in the tree.  The list starts with normal things, like a shoe, and escalates far beyond reality.  

It's crazy funny and OH HOW I LOVE THE ART!  (But that's another blog post.)

Now, in a book like I MUST HAVE BOBO by Eileen Rosenthal, illos by Marc Rosenthal, everything is a bit more routed in reality.  A boy, Willy, wakes up and can't find his beloved monkey, Bobo.
So he searched for Bobo around the house.

Who's the main character?  Willy.
What does he want?  Bobo.

This one's actually a little more of what I call a STATUS QUO STORY.  Willy doesn't want something outrageous or even out of the ordinary.  His status quo has been interrupted because his cat, Earl, keeps stealing Bobo.  All Willy wants is to return his life to normal.

Also, there is an antagonist in this story: Earl the cat.  Willy and Earl are fighting over Bobo.  Earl causing all the conflict in this story.

In STUCK, Floyd has to solve his problem, but there is no antagonist. 

That's something to think about as you're building your story, what's causing conflict?  Is your story about a character who has to overcome something within himself?  Is there a "villian?"  Or does the character want something that is so far out of reach there are a ton of obstacles in his way?

In MONKEY ONO, by me, I took an regular picture book character, a stuffed monkey, but gave him an irregular goal.  This particular stuffed monkey loves the beach.  He wants a fabulous beach day.

The problem for Monkey Ono is that when his family of humans goes to the beach, he gets left behind. 

The core of the book is Monkey Ono making Mission: Impossible-style plans to get to the beach, failing, and making more plans.  Because he's just a little stuffed monkey, his goal is beyond his control.  He only has limited skills and resources - I mean, he can't drive a car.  He can't call a cab. -  but he has unlimited imagination and gumption.

I won't go into the endings of any of these stories, because that's a different blog post as well.  But if you're getting started with your own story, think about your character, what that character wants, and what's standing in the way.

If you can create a scenario with a lot of fun possibilities, you're on the right track.

Have fun!


Mirka Breen said...

Nicely put. I have heard the "More than anything MC wants..." as a sort of anchor to story concept. Go, Ninja!

Julie_c said...

Thanks Mirka - that's a good one too!