Since many of you tell me you appreciate it when I interweave book reviews with comments on craft, this review will focus on three basic elements: The Beginning, Middle, and End using materials Barbara O' Connor provided at the fall SCBWI-Carolinas regional conference.
- Whose story it is
- Where the story takes place
- What the story is about
- A sense of the style or tone of the story
In the photo, the pelican's pouch was raggedly sliced from its beak, hanging loose like a war-torn flag. The caption screamed Pelicans Brutally Slashed. (p. 2)She runs inside, shoves the paper in front of her mother and says,
"This is sick." Kenzie's stomach churned. "It's inhuman. It's despicable!" .... A cinematic swirl of jagged knives, dripping blood, and murderous human eyes hijacked her brain. (p. 3)
- advance the story
- reveal more about the character
- and contain action that revolves around the central question or problem.
Kenzie talks to her friend Ana about Angelo's lack of figuring out who is harming the pelicans. Ana reminds Kenzie that Angelo's father's business depends on selling fish caught by local fisherman. Kenzie determined that the birds were often injured by fishermen because the birds stole their bait and snatched their catch.
"Ana, look. I get what you mean about Angelo and fisherman, but he said he wasn't interested because he had no time. I think Estefania Betancourt is the reason. Yeah, he has to work after school and weekends, but Christmas vacation starts in a week. He could make time then." (p. 75)
"Oh my gosh. I almost forgot to tell you. Donna at the Wildlife Center started keeping a chart of mile marker sections were injured pelicans are found. You'll never guess where they've found the most."
He was almost afraid to ask. "Where?"
"Mile markers 21-31. We're smack in the middle. There has to be a connection between abusing pelicans in Key West and abusing them around our islands. Something's going on. We have to figure it out and stop it." (p. 201)
- Answers the central question or solves the problem raised in the setup and happen just before the resolution.
- Should show that everything was foreshadowed was resolved
- The central question answered or the problem is solved
- Show that the character has grown or changed
Angelo lifted the key pendant. "I'm sure glad your mom got this for you. Wish I could have bought it, though." His voice cracked. He hesitated, cleared his throat and continued. "Remember why I wanted you to have it?"
He made it sound like the right answer would be the key to solving a mystery, but a wrong answer would further complicate it. Like he was navigating uncharted waters.
Kenzie had no clue. They were in such a comfortable place with each other now. What would happen when she admitted it? She tensed and gulped, "No."
Angelo carefully released the pendant and lowered his head. "It's one of a kind." Raking his hair back with his fingers, he breathed deep and long. "Yep. One of a kind. Just like you." (p. 375-6)
I challenge you to read TANGLED and figure out how many story lines are tangled and then untangled by the end of the book. I counted at least four. How many will you find?
For more information about Bonnie's books including curriculum resource material (she admits that the teacher in her doesn't know when to quit) and the inspiration behind each book, please visit her website.
For more information about Barbara O' Connor's books, please visit her website.
For more information on this aspect of the writing craft see Beginnings, Middles, and Ends by Nancy Kress.
GIVEAWAY: You can enter this giveaway twice! Leave a comment today and I'll add your name to the list. Leave a comment on next week's blog when I interview Bonnie, and your name will go "in the hat" a second time. Random.org will pick a winner for this terrific classroom resource on January 12.