Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Who Can Help Me Tell This Story?

This week I had the joy of interviewing my friend and picture book hero, Peter H. Reynolds, for the Children’s Book Hub. As usual, Peter said a million inspiring things and shared a number of jewels about writing.  Among them was a reference to his own writing process that set off lightbulbs in my head.  For those of you who have been participating in PiBoIdMo, or 12X12, or just find it hard sometimes to move from idea to story (as I do), this may be useful.

Once an idea comes to him (as they do all the time, because he has such highly developed Story Radar!), Peter asks himself, “Who could help me tell that story? What character and what situation can help demonstrate that idea?”

My ideas often start with theme  – with the take-away, so to speak. But good storytelling is all about character, after all. If the characters aren’t compelling, believable, interesting, then the reader doesn’t care… and if the reader doesn’t care, the take-away usually ends up being didactic or lost altogether.

Who can help me tell this story? What character, in what situation, solving what problem, can illuminate this idea?


5 Responses to “Who Can Help Me Tell This Story?”
  1. Beth says:

    “It’s all about the characters.” A wise man once said that. (Actually, he said it many more times than just once, in various ways.)

    Thank you for highlighting this gem from the interview with Peter — which was brimming with gems in dazzling and almost overwhelming amounts! I may need to print this out and put it on my desk. Or make that central question my desktop wallpaper for a while.

    Thanks, Emma!

  2. What an excellent question to ask, and one I hadn’t heard before. Thank you for sharing. Peter Reynolds IS hero -worthy. We adore his books in our house.

  3. Thanks, Emma, for sharing this with us. I’m writing down this idea generator in my notes immediately!

  4. Diane says:

    Thankyou Emma. Will put this “Who can tell me?” question down along with the “What if’s” question both very important…. in my book. Great interview by the way with Peter Reynolds.

  5. Thanks Emma. This is very helpful. I will definitely use this with my next story in the 12x12x12 challenge.

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