Monday, October 6, 2008
Tales from the Conference: Agent Alyssa Eisner Henkin on pacing
What moves your story forward?
My mind must've been in Lala land this conference, because in addition to thinking about paper dolls being brought to life by us Good Fairies, I couldn't help but think of Slip~n~Slides when, Agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin spoke on the subject of pacing.
Alyssa suggested that a motif" can be like a roadmap to your story. A Character trait or some other motif can help move your story forward.
So, there I sat, thinking that the plot is like the slip~n~slide, the characters are the squirts of water from the hose and the motif is inflatable raft that takes the reader from the beginning to the end.
Once example she used was in "The Secret Garden" where the tantrums of the protagonist were a motif used to show us the progression of the the characters growth.
Well . . . I think the sovereign Lord of the universe is also sovereign over Blogland, because it just so happens that I picked up a copy of THE TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS by Tina Ferraro (hi Tina!) and I just finished reading it. Not only is it a fun read, but it is also a PERFECT example of using a motif to move the story forward. The motif is so strong, that it is even used in the title!
When Nicolette is dumped shortly before the Prom, she is left with a gorgeous dress that she does NOT want to return. So she makes a list of things that can be done with her unworn promdress. Nicotlette's mother encourages her to keep this humorous list as a good-natured way to deal with the disappointment.
The book isn't actually about the uses for the unworn prom dress. Instead, the list that she makes reflects what is going on in her life as she deals with boys, her relationship with her absentee father, her mothers inability to make mortgage payments, the strange behavior of her best friend, and all the other things going wrong in her life.
See, whaddidItellya! Perfect! So, study this book if you'd like to learn more about how to use a motif to move your story forward.
As always, I welcome any other "motif" suggestions or insights in the comment section!