Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mr. Potato Head and Lisa Mangum

What am I reading now?
Princess Academy Palace of Stone
(Shannon Hale)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?
Miri and the other girls from Princess Academy leave the mountain again, this time to live at the Palace as a Ladies in Waiting to Britta as she prepares for her marriage to Prince Steffan.  One word disrupts the preparations and the kingdom with the power to take their peace and their lives. REVOLUTION.

I didn't think Princess Academy needed a sequel, but I enjoyed this one as much as the first. I highly recommend it for the classroom libraries of readers in grades 4-8.

Mr. Potato Head and Lisa Mangum

Lisa presented at Utah Valley Writers' Workshop a few weeks ago about how to build better characters. We started off with Mr. Potato Head bodies and parts and had to build characters (hero, villian, damsel in distress, comic relief...) Then she had the audience guess which role in a story the figure represented. Here are a few notes I jotted  during the rest of the presentation:

Contrast your characters past with their present as you move them to through new environments in each scene.

Look inside the character. Determine characteristics that make them different from everyone else in the book.

Personalize the challenges. What is it about them that could be exploited to further the tension and plot? For example: If they are afraid of speaking up, force them to speak to a large group about something they are passionate about.

Give the cast of characters a variety of beliefs relative to the plot so they will naturally be pulled into conflict with each other over it.

My FAVE of the presentation was when she asked, "If you gave that character $500 what would they do with it?" That's what makes each character different.


Donna K. Weaver said...

Wasn't that an awesome presentation?

Christy said...

Loving your site Canda! I love how you give us opinions about current books, and then writerly advice that you've picked up on. Thanks!

Also, I have to give you a gigantic thank you for posting your beat sheet. I used it a few weeks ago at a writing retreat and it was an amazing tool! I am such a visual person and it is helping me to "see" the scenes in my head before I write.

Keep up the good work!

Canda said...

I know, Donna. Lisa gave so much great advice in her session.

Also, Christy, I'm glad you like it. I'm trying to learn and sharing the new things I'm trying helps me use them more.

Renae W. Mackley said...

Love your site too.
The one about characters with a variety of beliefs is useful to me right now. Thanks.