Sometimes I just can't get enough of school. Okay, maybe not school per say, but I do love taking classes on subjects I love. Yesterday I had my first class on Illustrating Books for Children. Now I've had classes on Illustration and classes on Children's Literature, but never specifically Illustration for Children's Books. Woot! Needless to say, I'm pencil gnawingly excited.
Last night, our teacher said something that made me think: Picturebooks often work as circles. The first page, many times, is the same as the last page but maybe from a different point of view. Sometime it's the same setting but with a different character...or vice versa. In WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Max is sent to his room without supper. When it ends, he's back in his room but now with (still hot!) supper. In MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS, the ducks just travel from one end of Boston to the other, all together in the beginning and all together in the end, but just in different settings. (I'd go into my daughter's room for more examples, but she's still asleep.)
Even though picturebooks are often not as complicated story wise as adult, YA or MG novels, I think this circular start to finish can be successful no matter the genre. Heck, one of the major goals of our stories is to find a way to CHANGE our characters from shy to brave, weak to strong, or bad to good (and sometimes the other way around. Hello, Dr. Horrible!) Sometimes good closure is found when our characters go on journeys, change, and then find themselves in the same situation as before. This doesn't ALWAYS work, of course, but rarely will we find hard and fast rules in the world of writing. (Except "don't be an awful person.")
It's the hero's journey all over again. Oh man, EVERYTHING is the hero's journey, isn't it? Caaaaaammmpbelll!!! (shaky fist)
Graph courtesy of the lovely Nancy J. Parra. And Joseph Campbell, of course.
So, fabulous readers, think of your WIP's first and last scene. Does your story move in a circle, putting the hero right back where they started, if not emotionally, then physically? Or does your hero find him/herself in a completely different world than s/he started in?
Spoilers from your WIPs not necessary but, as always, I'm interested in what you guys think!