Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

Stuck in the Middle

on February 14, 2014

It often surprises me that blogging needs to have a structure. Actually, each new genre that I try my hand at has a structure. Who Middleknew? For example, a good picture book has a beginning, a middle, and an end – just like any other kind of story. It’s such a simple concept but so easy to forget.

So, I had some very good teachers along the way, some of whose names I don’t even remember. (Well, one of them just came to me, but let’s pretend I still don’t remember.) I credit my senior English teacher directly with getting me out of freshman writing in college.

I went in to take the pass-out test. I had no clue what to expect, but I wanted to give it a try. One of the possible topics was to pick a book and argue that everyone should read that book. (Okay, those who know me well know I’m still doing this exercise.) I felt like I’d struck gold. But the one thing that got me through it, with the nerves and all that, was my former English teacher in the back of my head saying, “Subject, number, and order.” He drilled it into us.

Quick English lesson for the uninitiated. Especially when writing an essay, you say what you’re going to say, say it, then say what you said. In each section, you need to state your topics, how many points you will make, and in what order you will make them. Easy peasy, no?

Yeah, just about as easy as beginning, middle, and end. I feel I’m still working on my voice, (that may never end) but I do think I have a handle on this principle. The trick is remembering to watch for it with each story. Along with the tension, etc.  I’m not saying it’s never good to flaunt the rules. It’s just wise to have a reason for flaunting. I habitually get stuck in the middle, but I try not to panic.

I doubt I convinced anyone that day to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, but I did learn how important basic principles can be. And, BTW, I need to plan my posts a little better.

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