WHAT I LEARNED FROM A PIRATE ABOUT WRITING
1. A Hook: Hooks grab the reader in the first few sentences or can be found at the end of a chapter to keep the pages turning. EXAMPLE: Captain Hook stood on the edge of the plank. Below swam a wide-mouthed crocodile, chomp, chomp, chomping at the air between Captain Hook and the sloshing sea.
2. An Anchor: A ship is afloat without an anchor. Your anchor is the story question. The story question keeps your writing focused. Will Hook make it out alive?
3. Navigation Tools: A pirate needs to know how to navigate the genre. Know your story structure. A play structure is going to be entirely different from a picture book structure. But each will have:
- A well developed main character
- A setting full of sensorial language (Why use lily-livered language when you can write like a salty pirate?)
- A story question that includes several attempts at a solution,
- A story answer that involves a physical and an emotional ending.
4. A Hearty Fight: A pirate cannot collect his bounty without first having to fight every step of the way. Conflict makes for a good story.
5. A Plank: Every story must reach the point where the main character’s toes are hanging over the edge of the plank with nowhere left to go. This climax should have your reader feeling that sorry bloke’s anxiety. Tick, Tick, Tick!
6. A Cutlass: A pirate has to be willing to use his cutlass. Once your story is written cut, cut, cut, down to the briny bones of a swashbuckling seafaring story.
7. A Treasure: When your reader closes the book make sure he leaves with a treasure he will want to come back to again and again.
Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton grew up on Lake Erie as a Rocky River Pirate. Her latest book, PIRATES DON’T SAY PLEASE, was recently released through Pelican Publishing. You can find Laurie at www.laurieknowlton.com.